Relax... You're Going to Die

RELAX… YOU’RE GOING TO DIE by Tai Sheridan, Ph.D.

To the Great Mystery

He not busy being born is busy dying.

Bob Dylan.


If you scratch beneath the surface, you will find that many of your anxieties, worries, and fears are associated with death and dying. Relax, You Are Going To Die is an invitation to examine your relationship with death and your ability to live with grace and dynamic vitality.

If we examine death, we usually ask: What happens when I die? What happens after death? Where did I come from? Will I be reborn? What role does God or deity play in life and death? What is the meaning of living and dying?

Buddhists ask different question. They ask: Who is doing the asking?! This question results in an examination of the ego, which is your accumulated personal and conditioned identification. When you lessen the hold that your ego has on the full experience of your body, heart, and mind, perhaps, you may glimpse your life as an integral part of the fabric of all of existence. The death of the ego is the birth of true living.

The question of death and dying is an inseparable part of spinning two headed coin. One side says “dying”, and the other says “living”. I wrote the poetic contemplations in this book in order to help you see the spinning coin more clearly and to help you deepen your relationship to the mystery of living and dying, which is the basis of living wise, kind, and beneficial life.

Death is the Root

Death is the root.
of your core anxiety.
Relaxation is the root.
of your core aliveness.
Until you make.
peace with death.
it is impossible to relax.
in the core of yourself.
Until you relax.
in the core of yourself.
it is impossible to.
make peace with death.
Your intellect can’ resolve.
this chicken egg existential paradox.
yet without resolution.
you will succumb.
to angst dread loneliness grief.
for not claiming your.
birthright of contentment.
Understanding living and dying.
is the core of deeply.
rooted spiritual life.

Dying is Ongoing

Dying is an.
ongoing event.
With every breath.
you are dying.
With every breath.
you are living.
Living and dying.
are present each.
moment of your life.
Being vitally alive.
is function of.
your awareness about.
how you live.
and how you die.
each moment.
Breathing and awareness.
are the gates to the garden.
of living and dying.
Being close to your breath.
transforms spiritual philosophy.
into spiritual experience.

Death Isn’ Abstract

Death isn’.
an abstract event.
Making it abstract intellectual.
belief or other worldly.
protects you from deep grief.
To make peace with death.
you need to make.
peace with grief.
It requires tremendous.
inner strength to dwell deeply.
inside the loss of those.
you dearly love.
It requires.
the same strength.
to dwell deeply.
inside the knowledge.
that you will lose.
your precious life.
You may tend to avoid.
accepting the biggest truth.
about living which is.
that everything dies.
Deep acceptance will.
change you forever.

Free Falling into Dying

When you are afraid.
of death you contract.
and thoughts muscles emotions.
become tense narrow hardened.
Fear of death is death itself.
You become desperate for.
soft cushion to land on.
to protect you from facing.
what you know will arrive.
There is no soft cushion.
there is only free falling into dying.
that is now that is forever.
it can’ be stopped or started.
because living dying.
being loving.
is life itself.

To Die Before You Die

To die before you die.
is the secret of the spiritually awake.
What dies is your self-centered ego.
and personal identification.
with the stories that you have told yourself.
for as long as you can remember.
about who and what you are.
as separate person.
which you have reinforced.
to substantiate yourself.
and which.
the world has reinforced.
to substantiate you.
you sadly have come to believe.
that the fiction you call me.
is the whole story.
our impoverished ego.
only knows how to protect itself.
from the mysterious truth that.
there is no substantiality whatsoever.
to hang on to and call me.
this is strange.
wondrous magical.
hard to understand.
hard to accept.
hard to realize.
but if you are committed.
to making peace with death.
then your journey will take you.
to understanding that.
who you call me is dream.

‘Me’ Dying

When you think of ‘me’ dying.
it disconnects you from.
the fabric of your existence.
Which is the intimate bond.
you have with everything that is alive.
and with everything that has or will exist.
how could you possibly be separate.
from any single thing.
The fact is that.
if everything that exists.
throughout all time space.
didn’ exist as it is was will be.
then you wouldn’ be here.
The miracle is that your body.
is made of atoms and minerals.
formed in interstellar space.
the miracle is that who you are.
can never be separated from.
the totality of all existence.
Death is the door to radically changing.
your perspective on what is going on.
in the depths of your Being.

Death’s Door

You can’ think about death’s door.
without thinking about birth’s door.
These are the two doors of your life.
the one you came in.
and the one you will go out.
Which is half truth.
because although your body.
was conceived by man/woman.
womb grown and worldly born.
and although your body will decompose.
ashes to ashes dust to dust.
It doesn’ account for the fact that.
you are part of huge cosmic event.
that defines you as bigger.
than just the distance.
between these two doors.

Fear of Death

The fear of death is the fear of total aliveness.
which isn’ excitement or fulfilling dreams.
At the core of dynamic living.
is great presence not just of yourself.
but of the whole works of existence.
as it courses through your veins.
and pumps oxygenated moonlight.
through synapse and cell.
It is the certainty.
that you exist.
connected to everything.
your feet on the ground.
your breath flowing freely.
your eyes wide open.
celebrating the joyful.
shimmering of things.
In this great presence.
life and death soften into.
the warm embrace of whatever.
you call holy sacred divine.
blissful true real.

Relax You’re Going to Die

If you want full aliveness.
which is presence and deep peace.
which is acceptance of your living and dying.
within the very big cosmic living and dying.
Then take fresh spring breath.
and exhale whatever you are holding on to.
in your body emotions mind spirit.
and die into this precise moment.
Fighting death is fighting life.
if you have ever been trout fishing.
you know that fish on hook won’ relax.
how could he know about catch and release.
which is what the universe is.
always doing with your life.
There is only one mantra.
one string of sacred words.
that makes any sense.
which will relieve you.
of the sleepless nights.
locked jaws addictive habits.
anxious days depressed emotions.
beating yourself up.
Living as if your life.
isn’ the heartbeat of god.
the breath of buddha.
the prayer of allah.
the blood of christ.
the embodiment.
of everything.
you call holy.
In still waters golden light.
may you imbibe the gentle truth.
Relax, you’re going to die.

You Are Death

Everything comes and everything goes.
this is the law of reality.
Gathering atoms turn into shapes.
you give it name like cup or body.
it lasts second an eon thirteen billion years.
then it parts like wave from the shore.
strange voice in your head.
tells you to aim at some ideal state.
strong true kind perfect creative loving.
which is stupidity that will drive you mad.
and keep you from inner peace.
You can’ achieve any state that lasts.
especially relaxation so the best you can.
do is return again and again.
to that which will sustain and regenerate.
presence vitality love generosity.
breathing living dying.
Which allows you living to the max.
being yourself and nobody else.
then you are ready to die.
thousand deaths each day.
and celebrate the joyful stream.
while mourning autumn leaves.
and winter’s chill.
You are life you are death.
you are you and you are cosmos.
in this knowing you can stop.
calling it yourself calling it by any name.
in the silence of your inner heart.
the mystery magic of living dying being.
Your destiny is to sit in the theater.
watching the movie that you.
will never completely understand.
which makes it sacred blessing.
for which you can offer up your thanks.
and the whole of your life.

Death the Great Leveler

The desert fathers gave up everything.
to live in cell in the hot desert.
the benedictines chant vespers.
while the rest of us are sleeping.
zen monks walk through morning shadows.
without trace of themselves.
Rumi Hafiz Kabir.
lost in ecstatic poetry.
Whitman pounded the ground.
with the cacophony.
of body love humanity.
You have longed for truths heard.
why keep them distant.
why put your peace in another’s hands.
Give up everything.
which doesn’ mean sell it or go broke.
just stop your death grip.
on people places things.
stop claiming things as yours.
it’s just another way of avoiding.
death the great leveler.
Death is an invitation to simplicity.
simplicity is an invitation to clarity.
clarity is an invitation to relaxation.
relaxation is an invitation to presence.
presence is an invitation to living.
living is an invitation to death.

Death is an Invitation

The only way to learn relaxation.
is to learn how and when.
you tense up forget the why.
Catch yourself stumbling into.
tight shoulders clenched fists.
sucked in belly gnarled forehead.
Headaches heartaches backaches.
bone aches muscles aches.
so many things make you want to shout.
I can’ stand it anymore.
In this tension is your death.
which is an invitation to relaxation.
which is your life.
which is your rebirth.
from now to now.
from frozenness to suppleness.
from rigidity to softness.
from you to everything.
from ego to buddha.
From complicated confused existence.
to simple alive flowing life.

Philosophy of Death

If you want to relax.
in the dream of living dying.
consider your philosophy.
because it keeps you.
stuck insane or free happy.
Your fear of death.
keeps you from being truly alive.
so why not embrace dying.
your fear of life.
keeps you from jumping in.
with both feet and experiencing.
the infinite array of your own potential.
so why not make room.
for the totality of you.
Scrambling after wealth fame love.
all the goodies you think.
will make you happy.
is death sentence.
Why not grab the key.
hanging in your brain heart.
on tree moon in child’s face.
Bathe in the fresh night breeze.
breathe out until there’s nothing left.
allow the gap to close between.
your living and your dying.
until you are set free to roam.
green mountains walk city streets.
sit still in rocker as the lights dim.
in the magic of being.

Dying into Redwoods

I often lean against redwood tree.
and die into the bark.
my spine rising.
into the blue of sky.
My legs become roots.
journeying down.
into unseen waters.
my breath slows softens.
my eyes open in wonder.
great cumulous clouds.
dance over the mountain peak.
Soon I’ll return.
to kids computers stress and modern plagues.
but for this moment I choose.
to let what I conveniently call myself die.
and I dwell in the house of relaxation and peace.
where you and I are inextricably entwined.
in the living and dying of all things.

Wish for the World

May All Beings Be Happy!
May All Beings Be One!
May All Beings Be Free!

About the Author

Tai Sheridan is poet, philosopher, and Zen priest. He transforms ancient Buddhist and Zen texts into accessible and inspirational verses. His Buddha in Blue Jeans series offers contemporary approach to Buddhist philosophy and awakening.

Books by Tai Sheridan

Buddha in Blue Jeans Series.

Buddha in Blue Jeans: An Extremely Short Zen Guide to Being Buddha.

Relax… You’re Going to Die.

Secrets of True Happiness.

Buddhist Classics in Modern Verse.

Celestial Music: Sutras of Emptiness.

The Lotus / Diamond / Heart-Wisdom / Loving Kindness Sutras

The Bare Bones Dhammapada: Big Mind Big Love.

Buddha’s Essential Teachings

The Buddhacarita: Modern Sequel.

The Poetic Saga of Buddha’s Life From Birth to Enlightenment

The Zen Wheel of Life Mantra: Song of Luminous Wisdom and Love.

Based on the Bhavacakra — The Wheel of Life Mandala

Zen Classics in Modern Verse.

The Light of the Ancient Buddhas: Ballads of Emptiness and Awakening.

Based on Keizan’s Transmission of the Light

Rice Eyes: Enlightenment in Dogen’s Kitchen.

poetic version of Dogen’s Tenzo Kyokun on enlightened living and practice

Snow Falling in Moonlight: Odes in Praise of Dogen’s Shobogenzo.

Twelve Poems based on Dogen’s Shobogenzo:The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

Warm Zen Practice: Poetic Version of Dogen’s Bendowa.

Whole Hearted Way


Buddha’s Light Body: Collected Works of Tai Sheridan.


Published by Tai Sheridan.

Copyright 2012 Tai Sheridan.

Kindle Edition.

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Sheridan Tai