Are You Prepared to Die?

Excerpts from Stephen Levine, Who Dies?

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The secret of life is to “die before you die.”

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

How many people are so connected to some essential part of themselves that even death could not distract them? That's something you don't wait until death to find out. That's something you cultivate right now. There's no other moment to begin preparing for death.

In a way, it seems strange that we are so unprepared for death, considering how many opportunities we have to open up to what is unexpected or even disagreeable. Each time we don't feel well, each time we have the flu or a kidney stone or a pain and stiffness in the back, we have the opportunity to see that sooner or later some pain or illness is going to arise that won't diminish but will increase until it displaces us from the body.

There is no other preparation for death except opening to the present. If you are here now, you'll be there then.

If we are not open to anything that might happen, if we are closed to any possibility, any event whatsoever, our perceptions narrow to a kind of tunnel vision that excludes the unacceptable. If you made a list of everything you own, everything you think of as you think of as you, everything you prefer, that list would be the distance between you and the living truth. Because these are the places where you'll cling. You'll focus there instead of looking beyond.

Tomorrow could be the first day of thirty years of quadriplegia. What preparations have you made to open to an inner life so full that whatever happens can be used as a means of enriching your focus? It's an ongoing process of opening to life. The more you open to life, the less death becomes the enemy. When you start using death as a means of focusing on life, then everything becomes just as it is, just this moment, an extraordinary opportunity to be alive.


Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shall thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.

William Shakespeare