When the renowned poet and Zen master Ikkyū Sōjun traveled, he walked with a staff which had a human skull on the tip. When he arrived and passed through a town or village, periodically he would pause, lift his Zen staff, shouting out... a lion roaring... "We're all going to die!" Afterwards he would then continue on, and repeat this action as if for the first time.
"Let me respectfully remind you,
Life and death are of supreme importance,
Time moves swiftly like an arrow,
and opportunity is lost,
Each of us should strive to awaken...
Take heed. Do not squander your life."
The objective data points to the fact that life is incredibly short... fragile. Death often times arrives without warning or invitation. This reality tells us, there's no time to waste... there's no point in faking ones life... majoring in minor things. Personally I've never encountered anyone who once having died returned. No exchanges... No refunds... No chips to cash-in, to magically save us.
In the west, when it comes to such things, we can be detached and disassociated from the reality. Ideas of "Good deaths," and so-called "Bad deaths," can be strikingly immature ways of understanding our dilemma. It's a reflexive human tendency to rate and judge everything and every-thing... as it tends to give the mind a false sense of security. In truth there's only death. We exhale without inhaling, exhausting the breath... and the body drops away from Awareness.
On the other hand, there Is some Thing... that cannot come or go... It cannot be given, taken, or thrown away, only not appreciated or utilized. It is beyond stupidity, petty differences, and our idiotic conditioning. Another great Zen Master... Kosho Uchiyama, Roshi speaking of life and death related to his students...
"Water isn’t created by being ladled into a bucket. Simply put, the water of the whole Universe has been ladled into a bucket. The water does not disappear because it has been scattered over the ground. It is only that the water of the whole Universe has been emptied into the whole Universe. Life is not born because a person is born. The life of the whole Universe has been ladled into the concrete being called “I.” Life does not disappear because a person dies. Simply, the life of the whole Universe has been poured out of this concrete “I” back into the Universe."
Gyo! Gyo! Gyo! Zazen! Zazen! Zazen! Practice! Practice! Practice! Confirm beyond the bottom! No one and no thing can be give what is already ours, because it's what we are... but you could at least take the time to recognize and notice Universal Reality that doesn't end at the surface of your skin.
一We Are the Practice Itself