MY FEAR OF DYING, THE OBESE EGO, AND THE WALL OF SAND


Strange,
intense period. First, a hunger for more recognition (on my last post I said my ego
was obese. I like this as a title, too: THE OBESE EGO); or perhaps, first, an
acute sense of failure, all this in the midst of working on Malini, not knowing
if it is brilliant, as I hope, or trash. I stopped work on Book 2 of the Nanak
Series in the middle of Guru’s Nanak’s death and picked up Malini. I must admit
I myself am very pleased by it. This is how the ego functions: I am great! I am nothing! Duality is created by the ego, and it is the ego that fears death because it can’t comprehend the higher soul which is so above it. 

My
health has been fair, better I think than in the previous years, but something
triggered a severe episode yesterday evening. I am certain it was the cheese (I
haven’t been eating dairy), and perhaps also the delicious cabbage that Raju
made. But I really cannot attribute what followed only to bad digestion. After
two walks, I returned to our bedroom – which has become my main workspace
because of the rain and damp and cold; I stay in bed with the computer, hot
water bottle and in the mornings, the heater – feeling quite good, preparing to
take a bath, put away the washed clothes that Meera had put in piles, listen to
some kirtan. In the middle of taking the bath, I experienced the old and sharp
insight that this body was destined to die. It wasn’t a thought, it was the
same certainty that I felt when the doctors thought I had cancer in 2007 before
my hysterectomy. It was that this thing, this being I knew as myself that was
the center of my experience, the experiencer of itself, and of itself in the
world, was not permanent. I had an end. I pushed the experience of my mortality
away, I think, or brushed it off but it must have stayed with me because when I
got into bed I thought I was dying. My heart was hammering away in my breast, I
couldn’t breathe, and after lying about for what seemed like a long time,
thinking I was all alone in this, that there was no one I could call upon to help
(Payson was busy all day and was at his computer). I took  half a valium, 2 ½ milligrams, opened the
bedroom door, leaned down the staircase to his studio and said, ‘I need you. I
am dying.’ ‘don’t say things like that,’ he said. ‘I’ll be up in a minute.’
Well, I think he took six or seven and I lay in bed thinking how he would feel
if he came back and found me dead. I went through the whole scenario of my body
lying in the bedroom and wondered who from the family in Chandigarh would come up to
help Payson out. When Payson came back I was lying very still and he went about
brushing his teeth and I thought, what if I were dead? But soon he was in bed,
stroking me, and I took the other half of the valium and fell asleep.

I’m still here, obviously. But for how long? This life is brief. The ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur, called it a wall of sand. 

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