a strong positive balance of attending to life and death makes the most sense. The problem is that we are decidedly out of balance today. Paradoxically, letting go of life allows us to appreciate it more deeply!
The Buddha is actually an archetype representing enlightenment, an icon symbolizing inner wisdom, a pointer towards the possibility of a level of spiritual awakening embodying the fullest actualized potential of human beings.
First the good news: as Woody Allen so succinctly reminded us the other day in an interview from Cannes, when commenting on aging, "It's a bad business getting older, and I would advise you not to do it."
We rarely if ever look at the "I" that's making our everyday assumptions. Our meditation practice, rather then being theoretical or metaphysical, is extremely personal and direct -- it's highly experiential.
As we stumble through the fog of our sometimes overly discursive mind and say "I want to meet Buddha," if you shift that a little and say "I want to meet the awakened state of mind," then we have clarified what it is that we are looking for.
I've gotten a greater appreciation of how pain--the non-life threatening, localized, physical kind of pain that something like a back spasm causes--can be gateway into the world of moment-to-moment awareness.