When I received this note from Mind Oasis teacher, friend, and donor Shari Pitts on July 4, 2018, it caught me completely off-guard.
This Friday when I received the message, “Our dear Shari has spread her wings.” I felt some mixture of both sadness and relief. Shari’s end of life journey extended far beyond what she and her doctors expected. It offered her a “fascinating” peek into the death and dying process (her word), but I suspect was also an exhausting journey for everyone involved (my words).
In her infinite selfless way, within a day upon news of her terminal illness, Shari had asked her friends to donate to Mind Oasis – and by the end of July 2018, there was nearly $1600 in donations received towards iRest teacher training scholarships and the Shari Pitts Fund was born.
A basic tenet of Tibetan Buddhism is the contemplation of the certainty of our death and the uncertainty of when death will come for us.
One of my practices that I stick to on a regular basis is a daily contemplation each morning. It goes something like this.
Yawn. Stretch. Yay! I’m alive – so grateful.
No matter what happens today, life will be glorious (Inner Voice: Yeah Right).
Today could be the day that I die (Inner Voice: No Way) –better live it well.
For me, living it well means:
Living with purpose by prodding the mission of Mind Oasis forward.
Living with compassion and loving-kindness for others – that one is tougher as a reformed tough girl, type A, only child.
Steeping in meditative practices that incite wisdom and equanimity. Easy – thanks to Mind Oasis.
Finally, keeping it real by being in and of this world as a householder (the antonym to a monk) – no caves for me!
In solitary retreat, we give ourselves the bountiful gift of quietude and a solitary practice. As householders, we then take the realizations from these spurts of isolation out into the world.
Shari, in her divine wisdom, understood the power of her final retreat as she moved towards her death. Because she lived with grace and presence, we have so many lessons to learn from her journey to the Ultimate Retreat: Living with purpose, compassion, and loving-kindness. Steeping in meditative practices up until the end. Keeping it real ~ what is this present moment gifting us right now?
Master Shantideva writes:
We spend our days in gentle walks and thoughts of helping others,
Here in the silent Peace of the forest, flowing in soft breezes;
We live doing as we please in our mansion of a wide flat rock,
cool with the touch of moonlight and sandalwood scent of the holy,
Living deep within the woods of peacefulness, completely emptied of conflict and the afflictions.
May you too have many gentle walks filled with the peace of the forest – completely emptied of conflict and afflictions, dear Shari. So too, may your family and friends. May we All.
Om Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.
Peace. Peace. Peace.