Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Death Is Good

Scott Bradley

"It is precisely because I consider my life good that I consider my death good." (Zhuangzi 6:26; Ziporyn)

In a previous post I discussed this declaration by Zhuangzi; I entitled it "My Life Is Good". This is the "B" side of that single, that singularity.

But I really have little I wish to say about it. Instead, I simply wish to suggest it as an object of contemplation.

I sometimes make mention of my 'mantras', words or phrases I use to help my mind consider an other-than-usual way of dwelling in the world. "Yes!" is one. "There are no conditions to meet", is another. "My death is good", is still another. These are more than strictly cognitive exercises; their intent is, through imagination, to facilitate a more transcendent point of view.

Rather than 'mantras', perhaps I might call them conceptual koans. A Zen practitioner is meant to constantly worry a koan, like a pebble in the mouth, until she suddenly gains insight into the significance of its non-meaning. Conceptual koans have a similar aim, but they are more immediate in their rewards and they are more an application of imagination than of the cognitive mind.

A koan proper has no 'answer'. A conceptual koan is the 'answer', though, like a koan, it is often something at which the mind stumbles. Herein lies its power. It begins with an understanding, though it is immaterial whether that understanding is 'true' or not. Forget 'true' or 'false'; experience dwells elsewhere. Experience is 'true' irrespective of how it got there. (You don't need to get it right, to get it.)

My death is good. Exploring this understanding through imagination, can be transformative in terms how one lives. It expands one's horizons. And, considering the fact that 'we' spend a great deal more time dead than alive, those horizons are vast indeed.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.


  1. What is the difference between your conceptual mantras and similar principals used in positive thinking? Aren't these methods you are using just a way to "think yourself" into a positive way to approach situations? Is "thinking yourself into a positive outlook" a true experience?

  2. Good question, Shawn. It's all so...cerebral. I think this is why meditation, qigong and other practices are important, to take us away from the cerebral.


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