"Much Ado About Nothing
Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity--but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our "biography," our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards. . . It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?
Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn't that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?
-Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying"
Rinpoche's words resonate with me, especially "an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet".
It is unnerving! I used to have a friend that said that their greatest fear was to find out that they were the hole in the doughnut.
I surrounded that feeling with kids, gardening, pets. Fill in any other noun you wish.
But here's the crunch; because everything is impermanent, those things leave and guess what I'm left with - no doughnut!
Paradoxically though, it's when I'm sitting alone with the "stranger" that I feel most comfortable and definitely not alone.
Practicising off the mat, however, is a whole other ball game!