The Buddha referred to the sights of sickness and death as two ‘Heavenly Messengers’. Why on earth would heaven send us such signs as these? Why not send beautiful angels to inspire and guide us? The answer is to help us to let go. Letting go of the body is not so easy. A friend of mine who is a doctor in an intensive care department once told me a joke: there was a man hanging on to the edge of the cliff by his fingers, about to fall, and he called out in desperation,
“Is there anybody up there!?”
Then God appeared from behind a cloud and said to the man,
“Do not be afraid! Let go and I will catch you!”
There was a pause and the man replied,
“Is there anybody else up there!?”
That’s how difficult it can be to let go. This is why we need such messages as the sight of sickness or death to motivate us while we are still able to practice Dhamma. If we can face these messages head on and learn how to let go we find heavenly bliss and security in the open, empty mind. All we need to do is to keep the mind calm and peaceful through meditation and keep looking and looking, and the process of letting go will happen, gradually, all on its own.
I offer this for your reflection