Death is an often taboo topic in Western society. We do everything we can to not only avoid the subject but pretend that it doesn’t even exist.
The reality is, this is really unfortunate and in no way helps us lead better lives. Becoming keenly aware of your own impermanence and deeply understanding the nature of death with regards to our interconnectedness are both things which can help us find great peace.
In Buddhism, students in many sects at one point or another “meditate on the corpse” as it were (a practice which is said to have originated at least as far back as the Buddha’s lifetime).This is literally what it sounds like. They meditate on the image of a corpse slowing decomposing and imagine that process through to its end, eventually resulting in a deep and profound realization about the true nature of death. That might sound a little intense to you, but the truth is if you live your entire life acting as if you’re never going to die or ignoring your own impermanence then you won’t ever be able to find true peace within yourself.
You don’t necessarily have to meditate on the image of a corpse, but simply opening up to yourself about death so that you’re no longer shielding it from your mind (which you’re likely doing unconsciously, as that’s how most of us were brought up in the West) can begin to be a great source of peace and help you appreciate the many joys in your everyday life.
A true appreciation for life can never be fully realized until you come face-to-face with your own impermanence. But once you do this, the world opens up in a new and profound way.
Peace and Love, Jim