Tag Archives: Stephen Levine

A Year To Live

a year to live

One of the first beliefs we come across is that the only reason we imagine we will die is because we are convinced we were born.

That’s the line I read this morning as I felt a moment of resonance. I looked up from the book at an empty schoolyard, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. After the pause I continued on…

But we cannot trust hearsay! We must find out for ourselves. Were we born? Or was that just the vessel in which our timelessness momentarily resides. What indeed was born? And who dies?

When we look into the contents of consciousness by which we define ourselves, we find that nothing lasts very long. There is no thought we have ever had that did not have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Everything in consciousness is constantly dying and being reborn. One thought dissolves into another. One feeling evolves into the next. There seems nothing permanent, nothing that is not already dying. And we wonder in the midst of such impermanence if there is anything “real” enough to survive death.

The book I’m reading is A Year To Live, by Stephen Levine. It’s part of a yearlong online course I’m taking at Spirit Rock. I love it, so far, and I love reading books like this. (There is no special reason I decided to take this course. I just stumbled across it and thought it looked interesting.) I’ll share the next paragraph…

Life lasts only a moment. Then another moment arises and dissolves into the flow. We live our life from instant to instant never knowing what the next unfolding will provide. But then something in all this catches our eye. We realize that every experience of our lifetime has been impermanent, except one. That there is an unchanging spaciousness in which all our changes float. How could we have overlooked the obvious so completely? From the moment that we became aware we were aware, whether at the breast or in the womb or the day before yesterday, there has been a single constant no matter what else was happening. There has been a constant sense of simply being. Not being “this” or “that” but the “thusness” into which our treasured this and thats cannot be prevented from disappearing. In fact, this underlying sense of being is as present as we are, and does not change from birth to death. It is the constant hum of being in our ever-changing cells.

Pulling away from the page, looking down at my black canvas shoes next to the green-ness of the grass. Acknowledging the space and body I inhabit, and what it feels like to slowly inhale cool air. Gradually, I notice someone walking their dog in the far-off distance. I just let my eyes follow them until they exit the field and are no longer visible.

I’ll skip ahead a bit and share the last line of the chapter…

We have gone mad looking for a solid center but there is none. Our center is vast space. Nothing to die and nothing to hang your hat on.

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