17. The Uncertain Circumstances of Sudden Death
Longchen Nyingtik Meditation 17
Take refuge and arouse bodhichitta.
Meditate: A burning candle is by itself transitory and won’t last long; if a strong gale appears, it will die out instantly. Human life is the same. Although today humans may live to be 100 years old, few manage to reach that age. Devastating illness, car accidents, fire, and other causes of death can snatch life away suddenly, allowing not even a moment’s freedom to stay on.
Therefore, resolve: I am no exception; at any time, an unexpected situation will befall me and rob me of my chance of dying a natural death. After all, news of abrupt and violent death never ceases; who knows if or when I’ll join these ranks. As life is so brief and ephemeral, I must make a concerted effort to practice the Dharma.
Dedicate all the merit of your practice to all sentient beings.
A successful meditation on impermanence makes a conscientious practitioner. A poor meditation on it, however, makes an incurable procrastinator, reluctant to do any Dharma practice. Some lay people I know of are quite pitiful in this sense. With “being too busy” as an excuse, their Dharma practices are forever left in a gridlock, a pathetic plight that can never be compared with the diligence of practitioners in solitary places. I hope each one of you—whether living in the mountains or in the cities—will spur yourself on with the urgency of impermanence. Whatever practice is needed to do, just do it!
Or else, you’ll goof off like children without parental supervision. Lacking any self-control, you won’t practice the Dharma until you are nudged by your teacher or Dharma friends hovering over you.
Not many children do their homework voluntarily. Only in the presence of parents who forbid fooling around or watching videos do the children manage to drag themselves to the desk to scribble something, utterly begrudgingly. That is how ordinary people are; very few are willing to practice the Dharma seriously. Therefore, pray to your guru and the Three Jewels that you’ll have enough self-discipline to practice the Dharma well, and be vigilant about impermanence!