A Buddhist, an Atheist, and an Agnostic walk into a Sauna

I can’t think of a punchline because this is no joke.

Last night these three people, of which I was one, spent a good long time in my sauna. What started out as an informal holiday meal among friends ended in a cerebral conversation about death.

Three women — all middle-aged, college-educated, healthy, married, mothers — waxed philosophically about purposeful living, the inevitability of dying, and the choice on how to get from today to our last day with some degree of comfort.

We came up with a few conclusions:

  1. There is no way to truly know when or how death will come, which is a very unsettling feeling.
  2. There are things we can do to prepare for death which take time and mental energy of which none of us has a great surplus.
  3. One of the best things we can do is profess our ignorance in intellectualizing any of it.
  4. Be good and kind and compassionate every single moment of every single day.

Of the above four, the last one can be attained and measured. Each of us can go to bed at night and assess whether the day was spent with an open-heart committed to mindful compassion. The other three are “facts of life” over which we do not have much control.

So it seems that “letting go,” aka removing “attachment,” is the only way to manage #1, #2, and #3.

The best way to do that is to focus on #4.

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