Every morning I sit quietly with a reading from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo to act as my compass for the upcoming day. This treasure of daily contemplations was a gift from dear friends, affectionately called my Tribe of 5. As it turns out, they gave it to me at just the right time in my life. It always works out that way.
Today’s reading began with a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, which means you already know it’s going to be good:
Enlightenment for a wave is the moment the
wave realizes that it is water. At that moment,
all fear of death disappears.
…fear of death disappears.
I closed my eyes to ponder this quote. In my stillness I visualized a wave rolling across the surface of a vast ocean. Fueled by the wind and the ocean itself, the wave gained momentum and force before cresting and thundering back into the water from where it came. Molecules of the wave were immediately consumed by its source, commingling with the ocean’s water molecules, no longer distinguishable as a wave despite its formidable presence just moments ago.
Does the wave still exist?
From water the wave is born and to water it returns. Ocean waves continually rise and fall, so isn’t it reasonable to conclude that some of the wave’s dispersed molecules will surge to a crescendo again? Of course this particular wave will never exist in the same form it had been previously. But if some of the wave’s molecules gather with other molecules from the sea to once again roll, rise and crest, couldn’t we say it has been reborn?
Our five senses are how we experience everything on this plane of existence. We may not be able to perceive that all matter is in motion, but science has demonstrated that everything in the quantum world is made of energy. The smallest particles beyond our comprehension are in motion with energy compressed into unfathomable potential. As permanent as the manifestation of reality around us may seem through the limited scope of our senses — think of a mountain — all is ephemeral. Here today, gone tomorrow.
Like the wave returning to its source, matter returns to matter. It is a law of physics that energy is transformed, never lost. Energy returns to the Universe. The form as we know it dies, but energy is eternal.
These thoughts have been dancing in my consciousness because two weeks ago I underwent hip replacement surgery. Having a body part fixed profoundly changed my relationship with my physical form. Like a much loved car with 6 digits on the odometer, I wore out a part that needed to be repaired. I took this body of mine to the hospital to have some parts replaced. The work was done, the hood was shut and I was sent home. The mechanics of this clinical event were anything but spiritual, but something shifted.
The shape and form I have always identified as “me,” I now recognize as simply flesh and bones. I am grateful for all my body has allowed me to experience in this fulfilling lifetime, and hopefully there is a lot more to come. It’s of no consequence whether I have a good hip or a repaired hip. “I” am only temporarily inhabiting this body.
My surgery elevated me to the level of being a witness to my life. I, my true Self, exist in peace and love as I observe myself navigating my life on this planet, just as we all do. From this perspective, I hold enormous appreciation for this gift of life, yet I no longer cling to the preservation of my flesh and bones. I no longer fear death.
Of course I will continue to care for my body, but I don’t fool myself into thinking it won’t need to be fixed again for one reason or another. What happens with my physical form does not mar, dent, inhibit or constrict the expansiveness of my Spirit. My true Self, that part of me witnessing the story of my life unfold, is pure love, infinite and eternal.
I am no more attached to my body than a molecule of water is attached to a wave. These physical forms are temporary, but they are mighty! This body of mine has been loved, driven hard and continues to allow me a magnificent life. When the time comes, as it will, that we run out of replacements and repairs to make, I will be ready to relinquish this body and return to my source, just as the wave returns to the ocean.