What Death Teaches Us About Lovers, Friends And Family
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What Death Teaches Us About Lovers, Friends And Family

When facing deaths heartbreak, we realize hidden values. Death debases pettiness and brings out what we may habitually overlook. Death makes us more conscious. I met this relentless teacher before my 10th birthday, an accident killed my, 19-year-old sister. A daily routine and habitual expectations, make it easy to take people for granted. Let’s not miss someone worthwhile, only to realize their importance when they're gone. Tomorrow's don’t exist in endless supply. I felt closer to my sister than any other and on one occasion, I withheld affection to punish her. You see, like any loving older sister, when she found out I smoked cigarettes, she told our parents and I felt betrayed. When she left, I refused to speak to her, vindictively relishing how sorry she would be. I turned my back on her and with anger I un-truthfully said, "I never want to see you again." And I never did.

The time I enjoyed with my sister, especially feeling her embrace, remain the best memories from my childhood. Death showed me in a painful way that people don't exist to play any role I assign. And this lesson still holds true and includes family, friends and lovers. I suggest we question what we value in our affections so we don’t miss a treasure chasing after tinsel.

While inquiring into affection, let’s avoid a mistake. We might miss a beautiful affection because it possesses little or nothing useful beyond it. Let’s not dismiss affection for its own sake. We judge a means according to achieved results. We cannot judge affection the same way e.g. after a death, does our heart grieve losing a person or losing their cooking, money and etc.? Since affection possesses intrinsic value let's inquire into values a little more.

If we stumble across Aladdin's Lamp and the Djinni invites us to make wishes, knowing the difference between means and ends will be important. Money, power, prestige, and long life are a valuable means, but what will we do with them? If those means simply enable us to spend our time loving people as best we can, perhaps we don’t need a Djinni to enjoy such love. Maybe such love exists around us. Let’s not miss the things here and now, by trying to achieve some roundabout way to accomplish them in the end.

Let's remember deceit debases affection as a whole. Do we value the people or only our goals? When we deceive, we destroy other people's opportunity to make choices based on the truth.

  • "We may be tempted to view the pursuit of truth as a way to achieve the results that we hold in our minds. The problem with viewing veracity as means instead of part of a whole is that it suggests that what we desire has the value separate from anything true. Without understanding the loss, we may abandon the truth to pursue what we think precious. If we seduce a lover with lies, we abase the merit of the situation as a whole. Moreover, an exposé of the truth becomes a threat. When we achieve ends without integrity, we lose something extremely valuable. For example, let us imagine two men, Mr. West and Mr. East, who both love a third, whom we will call Mr. North, who is an unscrupulous rogue. Mr. West imagines Mr. North to be decent and harmless and has the satisfaction of having a splendid friend in him. Mr. West inadvertently misleads others by misrepresenting the rascal as benign. Mr. East also enjoys his love of Mr. North, but disapproves of and criticizes his many faults. I suggest that Mr. East is more fortunate then Mr. West. Moreover, Mr. East’s love has greater value because it is rooted in the truth, not only for him, but for others as well. The truth does not threaten Mr. East. Anyone who agrees with this judgement admits that truth and love form a whole with greater value then love without truth."

Excerpt: The Relevance of Kabir, by Todd Vickers

The distinction between means and ends becomes clearer considering a journey to see a rare meteor shower. For those people who go for the experience and nothing else, they view the event as an end. An astronomer who attends the same event may value the experience as an end AND as a livelihood which is a means. A photographer attending the event might simply view the celestial phenomena as a means to make money and feel indifferent about the experience itself.

We miss higher values if we habitually (unconsciously) judge according to goals. A dear friend, who I will call Gregg, described meeting a young woman. On the couch, their honesty orbited sex. Her beauty induced his longing, but her unrealistic expectations stopped him. Their evening passed in intimate conversation only. Similar experiences made Gregg consider himself a sexual failure. I know his lovers personally so this conclusion made no sense. He’s a scrupulously honest, non-monogamous man. He judged himself against pretentious men who seduce women, often using lip service to expectations, including monogamy. I asked Gregg if he would imitate the less-than-honest men and he said, ‘NO’. Obviously, he valued integrity and affection as a whole more than any deceitful sexual conquest. He mistakenly judged himself using a lower standard, according to a goal. If goals become blinders, we miss the value truth adds to affection as a whole.

Remember ends and means may overlap, but don’t think them the same. If we value relationships because they bring us prestige, money, security or power, then we may mistake good circumstances for love. But those things might exist excluding affection. Achieving our goals while using relationships as a means involves prediction. How often do we see such prediction fail? Now let’s assume we attain our goals; these goals may not yield the satisfaction we imagined, or if they do, only for a brief time.

Our thinking habits cease while encountering extraordinary events e.g., death, danger, orgasm and meditation. In each case, apparently reliable concepts, including our identity, simply evaporate. We can venture beyond the limits imposed by those ideas. Our willingness to explore love beyond our expectations can reveal values we would not otherwise see. And if such discoveries make life worthwhile, let’s embrace such willingness and enjoy with others while they live. end

Download a free eBook copy of The Relevance of Kabir here, a limited offer. Simply click on the cover of the book at the website and download a copy from Smashwords


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