The passing of a close family member should always be a time of deep reflection into one’s own mind. In my case, I’m trying to focus on something obvious that is also a subject we are all very good at ignoring.
“The beautiful chariots of kings wear out,
This body too undergoes decay.
But the Dhamma of the good does not decay:
So the good proclaim along with the good.”
(SN 3:3, I 71 <163-64>)
Living is, in all reality, a fight against the inevitable. The body will, without fail, succumb to the ravages of age, disease, and finally death. We can often prolong the experience of life by means of a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes even that cannot drag out an existence. Whether you believe it to be fate, God, or kamma, sometimes there are things that are not currently within one’s sphere of control that will influence the time and means of one’s demise. Genetic diseases, car accidents, and even the weather can be examples of those things which we can’t accurately foresee or prevent.
The inevitability of my own physical end brings me to the realization that not only can I do good in this life, but I must. What I do is the only thing I leave behind for the world when I leave it. At a minimum, my wife and children can benefit from my existing, and maybe in some small way I can drag the course of humanity collectively just a little bit closer to the light and out of the darkness.
Sometimes I don’t know the best thing, and other times maybe I just don’t have the tenacity to do the perfect thing, but if ever I completely fail to try to do right, I hope there is someone there to call me out on it. This, because not only is it the only thing I leave the world, but it is the only thing I leave for myself when I depart it.
Go good, and be well, friends!