'Some years ago, walking across the Himalayas, I realized I would never make it over those mountains unless I let go of everything extra. I had to lighten up my mind as well as my overloaded day pack. It all came down to one simple sentence: Nothing extra! Just as these two legs carried me across mountains, those same words carry me through complicated days. They always remind me to let go. They also remind me of the weightlessness and ease of a whole and dedicated heart.
Like souls in Dante’s Purgatory, we carry the load of living and dying not simply to suffer but to learn to bear burdens lightly. The stones of hidden and silent wisdom become our teachers and companions along the way. They slow us down, ground us, and teach us about the weightiness and lightness of being. They ask us to stop and bend down low, touch the earth, and lift that which seems impossible to bear. Finally, making our backs strong, we open our eyes and discover that the stones are beautiful.
When the Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi was dying, one of his students went to say good-bye. Standing at his bedside, the student asked his beloved teacher, “Where shall we meet?” The old dying man made a small bow from his bed, and then the gesture of a circle with his hand. I think he was telling his student they were meeting right then, in form and in emptiness as well. Past and future were in that moment, and at the same time, the past and the future did not exist - and there was no place to meet that could be greater than the openness and intimacy of that very moment.
The radical optimist follows that intimate path, the path of impermanence through the great ocean on change. She is one with the ides of transition, unresisting. A true bodhisattva, she surfs on the waves of birth and death, with no destination in mind, as she rides along, no other shore to head for. Having realized unconditional acceptance and cast aside her expectations, she coasts on the crest of the wildest waves with effortlessness and total involvement. Choice has disappeared in her world. She is thoroughly alive, and she gives no fear.’
- Joan Halifax, Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death.