Meditation on Death
Thich Nhat Hanh
Vietnamese Buddhist monk
Nobel Peace Prize nominee
The meditation on death is the meditation on life itself.
When the cloud is about to be transformed into rain, it does not panic, like us. Knowing that being a cloud is a wonderful thing – the cloud is also aware of the fact that becoming green is another wonderful thing. So when the moment comes for the cloud to become green, it will sing happily at becoming drops of water falling on the vegetation, becoming part of the river, penetrating into the earth, and becoming a source of life for many other kinds of beings. It is a very beautiful adventure also. And then, sometime later on, it may resume the form of another cloud. No fear.
One autumn morning I was contemplating one beautiful leaf that was about to fall down. The leaf was very beautiful. It had the red color, the yellow color…. I was standing there, in a meditative mood; I was looking at the leaf; I was questioning the leaf, and to see whether the leaf was afraid of falling down to the ground. I heard the leaf saying that it began to appear in the spring. It had been on the branch many, many months. Through spring and summer it had worked hard to nourish itself and the tree.
It is now not like spring. It has done a lot of things in order to nourish the tree, and it could see itself in the tree. A leaf is something like a factory, fabricating a kind of sap, using sunshine, using gas; using water and mineral substance brought up by the roots – in order to manufacture that kind of sap that can nourish the tree.
Somewhere I read this statement: It takes 30 good leaves to make a good apple. It concerned an apple tree. An apple, in order to be a good apple, would need the support of at least 30 good leaves. Every one of us would need at least 30 leaves in order to be a good apple!
And so the leaf has worked hard in order to nourish the tree. And now it is about to fall down. “I am not afraid,” the leaf said. “I am in the tree; I am the tree; this is only a small part of me. I know that when I fall down, I continue to do my job. And when I decompose and become the soil, I continue to be with the tree. There is no fear.”
And there – a little bit of wind – and the leaf left the branch, went to the ground…joyfully, like dancing.