Eight End-of-Life Reflections

This website features reflections, and other content, in the context of (1) growing older, (2) nearing the end of life, as well as (3) dying and death. May it serve visitors in preparing for their own inevitable end of life.

The website began to be created during the author’s 70th birthday weekend (November 1-4, 2019), and is intended as a gift to others who are also nearing closer to the end of their life. It is organized around the author’s spiritual path, which began to crystallize during the 70th birthday period. It comprises eight aspects:

Four Realities (Causes)

(1) Precious Human Life: Appreciate deeply the preciousness of human life.

(2) Impermanence and Death: Accept the impermanent and transitory nature of all life – and that death can unexpectedly occur at any time during any given day.

(3) Karma: Understand the nature of causality – how cause and effect unfailingly operates throughout one’s life.

(4) Suffering: Recognize and accept that life in this world is inherently unsatisfactory with its pain, suffering, and dissatisfaction.

Four Outcomes (Effects)

(5) Preciousness of human life inspires appreciation: to have equal love for all beings, not swayed by attachment or aversion.

(6) Impermanence and death prompts urgency: to be prepared for dying and death.

(7) Cause and effect elicits personal responsibility: to practice responsible stewardship in all areas of life.

(8) Inherently unsatisfactory worldly life motivates seeking spiritual realities: to find and earnestly embark on a genuine spiritual path.

This website is a gift in the sense of giving back to humanity a small legacy in appreciation for all that has been gratefully received over a lifetime of 70 years. May this legacy take the form of leaving a vaster vision for life than that which a consumerist society offers.

While dying is certain, its timing remains uncertain. Death strikes both the young and old (a walk through a local cemetery can vividly remind one of this reality). “Death does not wait to see what has been done or is still to be done.” (Shantideva)

May visitors take from the website whatever spiritual gems are relevant for their life and speaks to their heart.

All backgrounds and faith traditions are honored. Nonetheless, the website reflects the author’s background: Originally from a Christian background, and studying theology, he later extensively studied Buddhism (from 2012 onward). Recently he has also been lightly exploring the spiritual richness of Indian spirituality (particularly Hinduism [Vedanta]). There is a clear leaning toward the Tibetan Buddhist faith tradition reflected in the website.

Three Criteria for Belief

1. Does it make sense? [reasoning, logic] HEAD

2. Does it speak to my heart? [intuition, commonsense] HEART

3. Is it of use? [practicality, helpfulness] HANDS

“BELIEVE nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
Thoughts of the Buddha (affirmations.com.au)

Photos on the website are intended to provide a peaceful, natural backdrop for content which may prompt contemplation and meditation. All photos were personally taken by the author (unless otherwise credited) and may be freely used by others (with acknowledgment). Each photo has an accompanying reflection/quotation to ponder.

A 70th birthday can be a time of deeper and meaningful reflection, such as:

First, one may well begin to have a more sober view of life. There simply is not that much time left in life, compared to the 70 years that have elapsed. (Ten years on, and one might find oneself in a nursing home at 80.)

Secondly, a person no longer has the same energy levels enjoyed in their forties and fifties, as well as early sixties.

Therefore, the need to focus on what is truly important in life becomes paramount. The following words are a timely reminder as to the preciousness of time:

“Every moment of our lives has tremendous value. Yet we let the time go by, like gold dust running through our fingers.

What is sadder than coming to the end of one’s life empty-handed?

We need to be aware that every second of our life is inestimably precious and have the intelligence to decide to make the best use of it for our own good and the good of others.

First of all, we need to get rid of the illusion of believing that we have ‘our whole life ahead of us.’

This life passes like a dream that can be interrupted at any time. We should take care of what is really essential without further delay so as not to be filled with regret at the hour of our death.

It is never too early to develop our inner qualities.”

Source: Ricard, Matthieu. On the Path to Enlightenment: Heart Advice from the Great Tibetan Masters. Boston: Shambhala, 2013. p. 19.

Four Realities (Causes)Four Outcomes (Effects)
[1] A Precious Human Life[5] Equal Love for All Beings

Spiritual Practice:
Taking Refuge
Altruistic Love and Compassion
[2] Impermanence and Death[6] Prepared for Dying and Death

Spiritual Practice:
[3] Karma[7] Responsible Stewardship in all of Life

Spiritual Practice:
Merit and Wisdom
[4] Suffering[8] A Spiritual Path

Spiritual Practice:
The Spiritual Master

Again, the heartfelt purpose for this website is to share reflections and insights in relation to the end of life, including dying and death.

May these reflections, and other website content, encourage and inspire all who are also slowly, but surely, nearing the end of life.

Alexander Peck (November 4, 2019)

[Updated March 3, 2020.]

Reflecting on the Preciousness of Life by the Seaside
May these four reminders – (1) the preciousness of a human life; (2) impermanence and death;
(3) karma or cause and effect;
(4) dissatisfaction and suffering in life – lead to
(5) equal love for all; (6) being prepared for death;
(7) practicing responsible stewardship; and
(8) embarking on a spiritual path.
(Alexander Peck)