Buddhist deathbed practices in Tuesdays With Morrie
August 27, 2004 12:47 PM   Subscribe

In Tuesdays With Morrie, there is a passage in about ones relationship with death: Morrie answers, "Do what the Buddhist do. Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks 'Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?' " Is there really such a practice in Buddhism? I haven't been able to find one non-Morrie reference anywhere.
posted by 4easypayments to Religion & Philosophy (6 answers total)
Well, this is supposed to be our attitude about death, but I don't think the bird is absolutely necessary. At least I hope not, since my cat on the other shoulder telling me that napping is key to happiness would eat it.
posted by dness2 at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2004

I think I had heard this as a Native American myth--like a variation of the "Today is a good day to die" philosophy--but I'm also pretty sure it came from a Carlos Castaneda book, which would make it clearly suspect.
posted by LairBob at 1:25 PM on August 27, 2004

I remember my mom reading this when I was a kid. Not sure if it helps.
posted by yerfatma at 4:00 PM on August 27, 2004

Roman generals returning home after a great victory were awarded by the Senate with a Triumph - a massive procession through the streets of Rome. Before the victorious general was marched the prisoners, looted booty, models depicting captured forts, actors reenacting the great victories, examples of the beasts and fruits of the newly aquired territory, trophies, medals, honors, and splendors of all kinds. It was a massive, wonderous procession that lasted hours and sometimes days.

The general rode in a chariot gilt in gold and pulled by four enormous war-horses. He wore triumphal garb and was surrounded by his personal guard and lieutenants. Before him was led the defeated general in chains.

Throughout the procession, his personal slave held his truimphal crown above his head for all to see, while at the same time whispering in his ear, just loud enough to be heard above the celebratory din, a warning: "All victories are fleeting. Do not believe you are more than any other man. Death will come even unto you."

[/answer to a question that was not asked.]
posted by ChasFile at 6:09 PM on August 27, 2004

In Tibetan Buddhism a typical daily practice involves remembering that everything is impermanent and that having a properly functioning human body is not always a given. No birds, though - I think that's a bit of licence being taken by the writer.
posted by zadcat at 6:16 PM on August 27, 2004

In Tebetan Buddhism, birds eat you on the mountaintop after they dice up your corpse - "sky burial".
posted by crunchburger at 7:32 PM on August 27, 2004

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