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Death: The End of Self-Improvement

By Joan Tollifson

When the future disappears, we are brought home to the vibrant aliveness Here and Now, the only reality there ever actually is. Whether it is the personal death that awaits each of us, the looming threat of climate extinction, the inevitable planetary death in which the earth itself will be no more, or even the end of the entire known universe, death is the single reality that most clearly informs us that the future is a fantasy and that all the things we have been so concerned about are like fleeting bubbles in a stream. When we believe that a single, fragile, impermanent bubble is all we are, we live in fear of death. And yet, paradoxically, we long to pop the bubble of apparent encapsulation and dissolve into the vast, unlimited wholeness that we intuitively know we are.

Instead of denying aging, avoiding death, or fantasizing about some after-life for “me” (the bubble), Joan points to fully embracing the total disintegration and loss of control that growing old and dying—and living and loving and being awake—actually entails.

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