Facing Death, Impermanence and Climate Change: A practical introduction to Buddhist Death Contemplation
4 Mondays, August 17 - September 7; 7:00-8:30pm
Suggested contribution: $32-80 registration + teacher donation
Death Contemplation is an ancient practice in many spiritual traditions. In the Buddhist world, maranasati (literally mindfulness of death) is recommended to bring about clarity, bravery, equanimity and spiritual urgency. Put another way, we contemplate death not because we're obsessed with death, but because of the opposite: it's a means to keep us aware that we're alive now and remind us of the ways that we want to live, despite the messiness of life and its eventual ending.
In this course, we'll primarily explore death contemplation from the ancient meditation manual, the Visuddhimagga. Its eight death contemplations have been updated and related to our modern context. Emphasis will also be given to systemic awareness and change, helping us to look not only at our own death but at the unpredictable world in which we live, and, importantly, at climate change, which represents the potential end of life as we know it. After all, maranasati isn't just about death but about all experiences that overwhelm our everyday ability to grapple with what we're presented with.
As part of this work, we will confront our cultural and personal alienation from death. We'll review practices such as mindfulness of breathing and loving-kindness, which help create the right context with which to examine this emotionally intense subject matter. Finally, we'll also regularly question how we can bring more and more awareness of death into our daily lives.
Because of the emotionally intense nature of this course material, some previous experience with meditation is highly encouraged. At the very least, you need the ability to gauge your stimulation level and have tools to self-sooth if needed. If you're unsure whether you're a good fit for this course, please consult with a mental health professional or meditation teacher before signing up, or talk to Nick.