GL: Right, brilliant work. It's based on Stephen Levine's book A Year to Live and she teaches these workshops mostly in the Bay area, San Francisco Bay area. And she has like fifty or sixty of them going on throughout the year and these are small groups of people that she takes through a process of living as if this were your last year to live. Alright? And I just think that's one example of a way to practice a mortality meditation; another one would be regular strolls through church graveyards; another one would be the study of anything that throws the big picture into a spotlight; this can be the study of history, archaeology, anthropology, cosmology, anything that reminds you of your relative position in the scheme of things, I think can really help focus your attention and remind you that this is the time that I have.
Rob: That relative position, you talk about that too.
GL: Absolutely, it's sobering - I mean I fly a lot, alright? So I'm regularly, I mean a hundred days out of the year I'm getting the view out the window and I'm always sitting in the window seat because I want the view. I look down at earth and from even airplane distance, you know it's thirty thousand, thirty-five thousand feet, the individual is utterly lost to sight; no less orbital distance or you know, thinking of it from the big grand perspectives. And that never seizes to amaze me that even from a few ten thousand feet up, the individual is lost, no less all of my four hundred and sixty pages of precious writing and my impact in the world, you know? And I think these are useful, I mean, yes, they can be depressing initially but I think once you move past the depressive idea of it, it can be liberating, extremely liberating, and allow you to just take full advantage of the life that you have to love what you love, to allow yourself to love what you love and the people you love and the work you love and the planet you live on and I just think the mortality meditation's useful.
Rob: How is it liberating?
GL: I did a series of profiles when I worked at the Cincinnati paper on people who were forced to consult their deaths because they had a doctor tell them you're dying. So these are the people we've all heard about, who are told you have six months to live, right? And I wanted to know what that experience was like, so I did a series of profiles on people who were told you have six months to live. And fair to say they were all shattered by it upfront, but also fair to say most of them were liberated by and in really profound ways, and none more so than one woman I interviewed who said her cancer diagnosis was the best thing that ever happened to her. Now I'm in my mid twenties when I hear this, this seems inconceivable to me that of all the things that could happen to a person in the course of a life cancer could be the best? And this is what she said, she said hey, I'm no longer trapped by life, I'm free to - my passions and my loves are finally released. I'm free to speak my mind and follow my heart and rearrange my priorities, she said, so that they are no longer an insult to the brevity and the preciousness of life.
GL: That's what I mean by liberated. Isn't that powerful?
Rob: It's very powerful.
Rob: We're moving on here and I don't want to take too much of your time, but I want to talk about connection. You talk in the book about connection, that people hunger for connection to something greater than themselves and just connection in general, it's an area - a concept that I'm interested in -
Rob: When I hit that epiphany at three ninety-eight or something of your book, I started writing notes down about it because it looks like that. And I came up with this idea of connection consciousness and it's something -
GL: What is that?
Rob: You gave me the idea, hey you should know. No, connection conscience to me is remembering. It's actually - it actually is the way I pray, but it's not the term that I had used, but when I pray I pray to remember that I'm connected to everything. Ken Wilber wrote a book called No Boundaries and I try to remember how I'm connected to everything in the universe.
Rob: And I certainly want to remember that I'm connected to other people and to the environment and the way the phrase popped into my head was the idea that connection consciousness is what prevents greed and exploitation.