From My Journal – June 2007

November 18, 2009 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

When the sun shines, and the air is warm, I close up my office and head out to my local cemetery to do Tai Chi Chuan. There’s a battered green bench where I can rest my things, and in the grass behind I do some warm-ups and then a tai chi form (or two).

“Isn’t that a bit morbid?” is the comment I’ve had more than once, when people hear about this predilection of mine. But I fail to see what’s morbid about it. The trees surrounding me while I do this graceful flowing dance are old and broad, the nearby bushes green and leafy, and the grass underfoot is lovely and soft (except for the odd twig which pricks my sole). There are birds singing, butterflies floating by in summer, and apart from the lone dog walker there is no one to disturb my peace. The dead beneath their paving stones don’t bother me, and what could be better than sharing their tranquillity.

What does ‘morbid’ mean anyway? The dictionary says morbid is either ‘having an unusual interest in death or an unpleasant event; gruesome; and relating to or characterized by disease; pathologic.’ The word Morbid comes from the latin morbidus –sickly, which comes from morbus – illness. Now I’m interested in morbus- illness – because I want to avoid it. But I’m not at all interested in the gruesome and I don’t have an unusual interest in death. The reason why we think that cemeteries are morbid is because we have a fearful and irrational attitude towards death. Our fear of death is our primal fear, from which all other fears stem, and most of us are in varying states of denial about it. It’s my belief that one of the reasons why we get ill when we don’t have to is because this emotional fear lodges deeply in the body, which lowers our resistance to illness. If we had a better and healthier attitude to death, we would have a healthier, better and longer life. To deny or ignore ageing and death means that we won’t be prepared to deal with them when they come, and we won’t be able to put into effect timely measures to prevent the worst effects of ageing.

The way to get beyond the duality of life is to seek a unity that transcends these dualities. This means to experience the feeling of oneness that all spiritual beings (and that means all of us) would like to attain. Why would we like to attain it? Because it satisfies our inmost longing for a feeling of purpose and meaning to our lives. Without it all we sense is the world of appearances, which seems increasingly meaningless the older we get. To spend our lives chasing pleasure, money and status cannot sustain us into maturity. Eventually we want to make more sense of our time on earth, and feel that there is more to life than just materialistic selfish pursuits. We want to know the answers to the big questions: Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? We may never be able to answer these questions, but just to ask and reflect on them expands our view of life and initiates spiritual growth.

Entry filed under: My Old Journals.

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Reflections on an age of anxiety.


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