In Tibetan Buddhism, training in the four preliminaries are the basis for all that follows in working with the mind:
1. Remember your precious human life and the good fortune of your human birth which provides ability to come in contact with and take in truthWhen I think of Memento Mori, I am drawn back to these preliminaries. The following day another Memento Mori message arrived again, prompting me to write this. I met with a man who recently lost a dear family member to protracted illness. He said, “Is it strange to say I feel like thought of his death is a gift? I’m sad he’s gone. I feel like the hurt reminds me to live my life.” It made me think of a colleague and former group consultant who said “loss is the gift that keeps on giving.” The words stung at first. It seemed antithetical in that moment to place the two ideas of “loss” and “gift” together. As the concept worked in me over time, I began to realize how much of my adaptations to life were from finding the “silver linings” in the losses I had accumulated. This message is clearly present in every step of our Masonic journey: In the regularity of day and night. In the stages of life and degrees, especially the Third. For me, the message echoes through our mythos and allegories to break off the superfluous in our day to day and bring into brilliant relief that which is most important to each of us.
2. The reality of the certainty of death that can come at any moment
3. Being stuck in Karma: that no matter what you do, good or ill, furthers your entrapment in the cycle
4. The inevitability and severity of suffering for all sentient beings.
Hasten not the day of your demise
Nor shun it like an evil specter.
Honor its effort to ring in the reality
That your life’s abode is this moment:
Brother Erik Marks is a clinical social worker whose usual vocation has been in the field of human services in a wide range of settings since 1990. He was raised in 2017 by his biologically younger Brother and then Worshipful Master in Alpha Lodge in Framingham, MA. You may contact brother Marks by email: erik@StrongGrip.org