In 1967, a young man named Robert McNamara was traveling by boat in South Vietnam. It was a sunny day, and the boat was making its way down the Saigon River when it hit a mine that had been planted by North Vietnamese guerillas. The explosion killed many of McNamara’s friends, but none of his family members died in the blast. The incident changed McNamara’s life forever—and it may have even influenced his decision to become secretary of defense under President Lyndon Johnson. In this post, I will explore how this tragic event impacted McNamara and what we can learn from it today.
1. What am I?
A funeral meditation is a kind of prayer that asks the question, “What am I?” You can ask this question to help you center yourself and get in touch with your ultimate nature. This can help you see beyond your limited perception of yourself as just a body or even just a mind.
This is how it works: First, sit down in a comfortable position with your eyes closed and breathe deeply for several minutes until your body relaxes and becomes still. Then say to yourself silently: “What am I?” Repeat this question again and again until something arises within you that answers it.
2. Who are you?
What do you want your loved ones to remember about you? What characteristics or qualities do you want them to know about who you were?
How would your loved ones like to be remembered? Do they have any particular goals for their life, such as traveling the world or finding a special someone? Do they want people to know how hard-working and dedicated they are at their job, or that they had a passion for helping others in need?
Where were/are your loved ones from originally, and what is their heritage (this could include nationality, ethnicity, or religious beliefs)?
3. Where are we?
- We are on a planet.
- We are in a solar system.
- We are in a galaxy.
- We are in a universe.
4. What do we exist for?
Our existence is to live a life of peace, joy, and love. To help each other in the journey of our lives. To make the world a better place, just like Mother Teresa said “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one”.
The reason why we are alive today is to give happiness to other human beings by sharing our time with them and helping them if they need any help from us.
It’s not about getting things for yourself but it’s about giving things to others even though you may have nothing left for yourself at that moment in time.
5. Where do we come from?
Where do we come from?
We come from the earth. We are made of elements that originate in the earth, and our bodies and minds are inseparable from it. When we die, our bodies return to the earth and become part of it again. This is a natural process that all living creatures participate in; even plants take in air and water through their roots, which extend deep into the ground to absorb nutrients provided by bacteria breaking down decaying matter underground.
The same elements that make up our bodies also make up everything around us: trees, animals, fish—everything on land or sea came out of the ground at some point. But where did Earth itself come from? The sun? The moon? Stars?
6. We exist in this world.
We exist in this world. We are part of it, and it is a part of us. It does not always seem so, but we truly do live in an interconnected web that is far more complex than most people realize. As beings who think, feel and act upon the world around them, we have an opportunity to make a difference in our existence by altering how we treat ourselves and others. When someone passes away from this life into the next one (or perhaps no other), it is up to us to remember their place within our sphere of influence as well as their impact on those who were closest to them.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it can be rewarding and fun to do. You’ll need to think about what you want to say for each section of your meditation, or if you prefer just one word or phrase per meditation, then go ahead and write that down too! If all else fails, start with the first section (What am I?) and see where it takes you from there.