As I mentioned yesterday, I sat with my father for the last three days as he died.
This is a kind of inner and outer work that can only be appreciated through experience; the impressions one takes in are ruthless and uncompromising, and attention of the utmost kind is required. It reminded me quite exactly of attending the birth of children; but there is no need to rhapsodize about either event. Neither is brutish or elevated; they are simple facts to be appreciated, each of which brings a depth of experience to respect and even cherish, since without them we cannot possibly begin know what this life is.
At both birth and death, I realize I cannot know what this life is except only through the living of it, which is, the ancient sages and masters recognized, the one absolute. I can only know Being itself; all else, I graft onto it as an accessory. Yet it's always the grafts I treasure, thinking that blossoms and fruits alone give justice to the vine. The vine is where all the strength lies; the rest is sweet but temporary.
My father's struggle, of course, made a great impression; but so too did the enormous compassion and support of all the souls that gathered around him as he died. At our best, we humans have capacities for love so great that even angels look on in envy; why, then, do they so often fail us? It is a mystery. Perhaps it's our mortality itself that lights this fire in us, and nothing else will do; if so, death's well met, since it produces so much wonder.