I went to talk to to my uncle yesterday (the one who is dying from cancer), because I had a couple of questions for him. For a long time we had been talking about spiritual subjects over whatsapp and in person, a good year and a half of discussion, but recently this had changed. As he got closer to his treatment being finished, he stopped talking about spiritual subjects. So I started by asking him why.
He said that as death got closer, daily life had become more real for him. A focus on the here and now had taken over. Then I asked him what spirituality had come to mean to him now. It took him some time to come up with an answer, because he said “it required him to think about what spirituality meant at all”. In the end he said it all came down to connectedness.
It seemed to me an interesting answer, that someone who had been so much into Zen would say that his spirituality was about connectedness. Of course he has had a lot of family visits over the last six months, and his son and daughter and their partners and children (his grandchildren, between the ages of 10 and 2) have been a big presence.
But for me from a Buddhist point of view heavily influenced by Ajahn Chah over the past five years, the perspective of spirituality as connectedness is a big change from the ideas of cessation and letting go. I wonder if I will feel the same when I come close to dying.