On Dying

Wayne Allan Dirks

My father died 2 weeks ago.

He not only had his will, his wishes, and his belongings in order, he also had his heart and soul in order.  He was ready to accept what life brought and to accept death when it came.  He was ready to take his last breath with a prayer of gratitude on his lips.

One of my final memories was sitting on Dad’s hospital bed, holding his hand.  He was in a lot of pain, yet his mind was incredibly sharp. I asked him what he wanted to happen in his pained, weakened state.  He looked at me with the smile I had come to expect and said,  “If I die, I get to be with Jesus, and if I live, I get to stay here with Nancy…either way I win.”

In the past two weeks, I have reflected not only on the example and inspiration of my father’s life and death, but on my own life and readiness to die.  In the yoga understanding that guides so much of my journey, life is thought to be a preparation for death.  The Sages teach that death is painful for those with regrets and attachments.  Death is painful when our own greed and selfishness have us so entangled in this life that we cling helplessly to it.  Death is painful when we have not learned to live well.

Whatever tradition we are part of, the teachings are in essence the same:  learning to live well. Learning to accept and let go.  Learning to trustfully surrender and to face our fears head on.  Learning to forgive and have compassion for ourselves and others.  As we nurture these qualities in our hearts and minds, we slowly become masters of our own life and therefore, our death.  As we learn to live well, we learn to die well.

People offer us mirrors to reflect upon our own lives, eventual deaths, and the qualities we our choosing to nourish on a daily basis.  Thank you Dad for the mirror you have reflected to me.  In so many ways you showed me how to live well and how to die well.

4 thoughts on “On Dying”

  1. I just found your book and watched your yoga international workshop. I am sure you have heard it before, but thank you! Yoga is transforming my life and your work on the Yamas and Niyamas offers so much clarity. Reading the about the ethic system is helping me know what’s happening! I now have more language for these new drives I seem to have! Even better, I can cultivate them! 🙂 It is a wonderful process and I am loving learning. Thank for the loving, open, kind way you communicate this important information. You are a blessing.
    I am sorry for your loss but am so glad for the spiritual understanding you apply in relation. Best! T

    1. Thank you, Tracy, for your kind words. Continued blessings in your learning, growing and transformation.

  2. Hey Deb

    I am starting another year of exploration of the Y&N with a group, using your book as a guide and found myself back on your site. Just wanted to say I was sorry to hear about the passing of your dad. My dad, too, taught me how to live and die well. We are blessed indeed.

    love Anne

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top