The Idea of Death
As a Guide to Forming Priorities
You only need this one idea: You could die at any time now. In the next couple of years, or in the next year, in the next month, in the next week, tomorrow, in the next minute. You just don't know. The only reasonable way to deal with this is to act with the idea that you could die at any time from the next minute on.
Make Death your constant companion. With that idea taken seriously you can set up life priorities which will be rewarding now in the relief from stress of worry about future regret and will give you at the end the satisfaction of having done your best to meet the challenges of life in a reasoned manner.
Setting priorities is also hugely rewarding in this material world. You accomplish much more and what you accomplish assumes an order which builds on your personal growth.
Do, for yourself, that which you wish to have done or think you ought to have done before you die. Or said another way, do what you would regret not having done before you die.
Deal with all beings as though it were the last time you would be dealing with them ... before they die ... before you die.
Some sub-sets of these might be: broadening and deepening one's knowledge of the Dhamma; training yourself not to deal with people dismissively (or worse); expressing gratitude; paying off debts; righting wrongs done; doing good works.
Setting priorities is a complicated process. One's list of priorities will change over time. Priorities will change in the context of your learning. Some priorities influence other priorities so changes in one set will force changes in another. Be flexible. Do not hang on to a set of priorities just because it has served you well in the past.
This one consideration, considering the idea of death, will serve well as an over-riding guide for the setting of most lists of priorities.
Who's On First?
#1. Yourself: If you don't take care of yourself first, how will you be able to take care of others?
Bhikkhus and holy men of good moral conduct
Real People face-to-face
Real people at a distance: over the phone, via letter, e-mail ...
Virtual people: via essays, books on or off-line, blogs, tweets
To one in need
when you are in need
to one arriving
when you are arriving
to one departing
as you are departing
when the heart feels the desire
The Eight-Dimensional Way
as A Set of Priorities
#1. High Working Hypothesis
#1. 'This' is Pain
#2. This Pain results from Thirst
#3. To End the Pain, End the Thirst
#4. This is The Way: High Working Hypothesis, High Principles, High Talk, High Works, High Lifestyle, High Energetic Self-Control, High Mind, High Getting High, High Vision and High Detachment
#2. High Principles
#1. Let Go
#2. Let Go Harming Living Beings
#3. Let go of Mental Cruelty
#3. High Talk
#1. Let go saying what is not true,
#2. deceitful speech, harmful speech, cruel speech, slander, distasteful speech
#4. High Works
#1. Let go harmful deeds,
#2. Taking what has not been given,
#3. Saying what is not true,
In your deeds, commerse, or working of magic charms
#5. High Lifestyle
Adopt letting go of what you can see for yourself is an unskillful form of behavior as a style of life.
#6. High Energetic Self-Control
#1. Restrain from unskillful things that have arisen in the present,
#2. Refrain from unskillful things that have not yet arisen,
#3. Obtain skillful things that have not yet arisen
#4. Retain skillful things that have arisen in the present.
#7. High Mind
#1. Live in a body, #2. in sense experience, #3. in the heart and #4. in the Dhamma, seeing these things as they are, seeing how they arise, seeing how they decline, seeing how they pass away, watchful and self-aware, letting go of indulgence in anger and depression, bound up in nothing at all in the world.
#8. High Getting High
#1. Learn to appreciate the peace and calm of solitude,
#2. Learn to enjoy the serene life,
#3. Leearn to enjoy the ease of living alert and recollected,
#4. Learn to appreciate the clarity of detachment
#9. High Vision
#1. See the Four Truths as they really are, understanding
'This' being, that happens;
with the absense of 'This', the absense of that.
#10. High Detachment
Seeing from the point of view of High Vision, let that go and form no new point of view and see the detachment from points of view as freedom and in this freedom, see the freedom of Nibbāna and know:
This is having left behind rebirth,
This is having lived the Godly life,
This is having done duty's doing,
In this way there will be no more It'n-n-at'n Me!