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This blog is about both scientific, societal/political, and yoga-related issues - individually and considered as different aspects of the same problem/solution. A longer description is found in the first blog entry, and all old posts are found in a structured way here. The blog is an extension of my main home pages and Twitter: @gunnarcedersund

To learn from regrets of the dying

karma yoga: life and workPosted by Mar 26, 2013 23:48
I am back again in Buenos Aires, the place where I started this South America journey. Many people come here, from time to time, and I have met many interesting and wonderful people on this journey. One person I did not meet, however, is Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who in the video above makes a presentation at a conference, during her visit to Buenos Aires. Kübler-Ross was a pioneer in so many things, but in particular she was one of the first who took it seriously to spend time with and learn from people who are dying.


I think that one of the main things we are missing in our life nowadays is to spend time across the generations. Most importantly, we are not spending time with people who are really old and dying. This has all sorts of bad consequences, and missed opportunities. First of all, this makes us fear death - and a life in fear is never a good idea. I also think that this fear of death is the main reason why we in our society are so fixated on youth, and everything that has to do with that: young bodies, teenage shows, marriages, etc etc. These ideals of the young are perhaps unconsciously done with the hope to bring our attention away from death as far as possible, but I think that the opposite strategy is much better: the tantra strategy of focusing on that which you fear, and thus seeing right through it.

In our society there are a few people who have done precisely that. One of them is Elisabeth Kübler Ross. She was a remarkable woman who truly lived to inspire and transform the lives of those she met. She is the woman in the two videos above, and it is just one of many videos and books about and of her that exists. As with so many other remarkable persons, hearing them speak does not blow your mind away at the first impression, but you do hear that there is some kind of presence in their appearance, something in the tone of their voice, which makes you listen. And then when you have listened for a while you notice that they are saying really meaningful things, things that really touch you. And the true test is that those things that you hear, those stories that they tell, are stories that you remember, and that you bring with you as you go about your life in the coming days, weeks, and even years and decades of your life. It is also not uncommon that such people, once they have caught your attention, and you have approached their vibration a little bit more, can say just a few words that will completely change your outlook on life forever. Elisabeth did just that with many many people, both of those lying on their death-beds and those still within the midst of their lives. It is precisly such a person I want to be, as I keep growing into and reveals more and more of my true self in this life.

What made me want to write now, however, was another person, who also has spent a lot of time with dying people: Bronnie Ware. She made interviews with many people as they spent their last days or weeks in life, to learn about what kind of regrets they had - to see whether there were common regrets that we might want to know of now, before we are at the point of dying, before it is too late for us to actually change the way our lives will be led. Bronnie started to write about these experiences and insights in her blog, but this eventually got so popular that she decided to write a book about it instead. I did not read this book, but I have read the list of regrets she has compiled, and I can thoroughly support considering these 5 regrets - to consider this book as a gift from all of those who have died, to all of us who still are in the midst of things!

Here list is as follows:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

These four things are described at her blog, which she ends with the following fifth item, and final comments, which I just copy-paste to here.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

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