I had a problem with my hot water cylinder so I phoned a plumber to fix it. In my bathroom were two signs one says, DEATH IS COMING WITH EVERY BREATH and the other, WHAT WOULD I REGRET IF I DIED TODAY?
The plumber was attending to the water cylinder and I was in the kitchen having breakfast. He asked if he could use the bathroom to wash his hands. He went out to his van a couple of times to get some tools and each time, I see him looking at me. When he finished the job he gave me some instructions and then just stood there looking sheepish.
I drank my tea.
Then he said to me, “that’s very interesting those signs in your bathroom.”
I drank my tea
“You know, life is for living, you don’t need to be depressed and think about death all the time,” he said to me. “There is joy out there you just got to go and look for it. If you think about death all the time that’s not good. I am a Christian and we don’t think about death we think about living. Perhaps you should try that.”
I smiled at him and explained, “Buddhists try and think about death as it helps us to live our lives in a meaningful way because we know that death is not something far away, it can happen at any time and we need to be ready for it.”
“I don’t understand how that helps,” he said to me.
“Well imagine you have an argument with someone, it may have happened in the early morning, but nine hours later you are still angry about it. So in my case when I would come home and look at the signs I would know that argument was nothing. All the drama and emotion that I attached to it is not important.”
“Ooh, I get ya. Actually, that’s exactly what happened to me I had an argument with my son. He said something he shouldn’t have and I did too. But I prayed to God to help me and so I phoned my son and said sorry to him and he said sorry to me too. So do you Buddhists just sit around thinking about death?”
“No, we have jobs, we are just like you, we try to benefit all sentient beings and not harm them.”
“Do you believe in angels? Do you Buddhists have any angels?”
“We call it another name, see that picture over there, that is an angel her name is Tara sometimes known as Kuan Yin.”
“Ooh,” he said, “well I better go, you know I’m going to Fiji to teach at the Bible College and I didn’t know what I was going to say but you’ve given me an idea.”
He walked to the door, and with a slight pause then he said, “you know that’s quite true, death is coming with every breath.”