Die Wise, While There is Still Such a Thing as Wisdom
August 20, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - August 22, 2021 @ 12:00 pm
This is not a training, not a qualification, not something you might get for yourself instead of the standard schooling.
This is disqualification. This is something you might get for yourself because of your standard schooling. This is disillusion of the stoutest kind. Linger over ‘disillusion’, though, and you might catch the spirit of radical investigation, relentless uncertainty, naked wonder, that will inform our meeting. You might in these few days together find a willingness to get out from under what brought you to the work and to the system, what keeps you there, so that the work might serve. So that you might serve the God of Dying when the mystery days come round.
Drastic descriptors, true. Accurate, though, and faithful in their faithless way.
The focus of our work together won’t be psychological, not intrapsychic, not ‘spiritual’ in the usual way. We will work on being redeemers of a death phobic, grief illiterate culture.
Death trade workers – those inside and outside of the standard medical systems – are first and foremost culture workers. Like the dying people they work with, death trade workers inherit the ragged poverties and prejudices of their times, and their repertoire for intervention and for sanity comes from there.
So this meeting is for anyone in the death trade, as worker or patient, now or in the time that’s been or in the time to come. It is for anyone who’ll fail to live forever. It is also for anyone haunted by the recurring murmur in the mind that says: There’s got to be another way – a wiser way – to do this.
Die Wise – A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul is Stephen’s latest book about grief, and dying, and the great love of life. (2015 Nautilus Award Winner.)
Die Wise Video Trailer
A good death is everyone’s right. The idea makes no sense in a culture that doesn’t believe in dying at all. Grief is the radical etiquette needed by a death phobic, grief illiterate time. Dying is the fulfillment, not the end, of life. From a young age we see around us that grief is mostly an affliction, a misery that intrudes into the life we deserve, a rupture of the natural order of things, a trauma that we need coping and management and five stages and twelve steps to get over.
Here’s the revolution: What if grief is a skill, in the same way that love is a skill, something that must be learned and cultivated and taught? What if grief is the natural order of things, a way of loving life anyway? Though addicted to security, comfort and managing uncertainty, this culture could learn to honour, teach and live grief as a skill, as vital to its personal, community and spiritual life as the skill of loving. In a time like ours, grieving is a subversive act. Dying can be – and must be — the fullest expression and incarnation of what you’ve learned by living.
How you die is the proving ground, the cradle, and the grave for every conviction you may have about justice and mercy, about the meaning of life, about what love should look like and what it should do.
Dying is not the end of wisdom, and wisdom is not exhausted by dying. Dying well is a spiritual obligation, and a moral obligation. If you love somebody, if you care about the world that’s to come after you, if you want somebody to be spared the lunacy of what you’ve seen, you’ve got to ‘die wise.’” This session begins to imagine another way of doing so.