You know its funny, Death has never been a big motivator in my spiritual practice. For some people, maybe most, that is what it is ALL about. But not me.
I had a conversation today with someone who just could not understand how I could be a Buddhist and Christian both. Their whole problem boiled down to whether I believed that I got reincarnated or sent to heaven. I answered that that concern pretty much avoids the major issue of BOTH religions, and has been used to rob both of them of their true message and what makes them unique.
Buddha did not seek to establish a complex system of rebirth. He taught an answer to the problem of suffering. That is the main message of Buddhism. Yes part of that involves not re-incarnating, or rather being trapped in the cycle of Samsara (Mahayana leaves open the probability that even when not trapped in it, you will stay in it until all beings are enlightened.) but for the most part the message is about doing something here and now FOR the here and now. It is about ending suffering. When you start getting into what different people get incarnated as because of what Karma, the whole things looses its real essence and gets into yet another legalistic nonesense.
Christ, I and many other are convinced, did not come to establish a way for people to go to heaven when they die. He taught an answer to the question of how to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. The Lords Prayer does not focus on heavenly reward. It asks that “Thy will be done ON EARTH, as it is in heaven”. The Kingdom of heaven, we are told again and again, is within us.
All motivations to practice something now for fear of what happens after death have always been lost on me. I did not mind the 10,000 years before I was born, and I am pretty sure I won’t mind the 10,000 years after I am gone. What happens happens. I know lots of different death practices meant to steer rebirth. I may use them or I may not. Part of me is just skeptical that we have enough time and wisdom in this life to really nail down the best way to tinker with the primal process of death and whatever-the-fuck-happens next.
I did a traditional 3 day meditation oh created corpses once. It was one of the best things I ever did. I got comfortable with the idea that I am going to die. Far from spurring me onto a frenzy of practice the way some people think it does, for fear that I am wasting a precious human rebirth or my one god given chance to believe the right thing, that meditation made me ok with the fact that I can only fuck it up so much.