Motivation for practice

I'm going to die (TAN10) (from TAN10 -

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"And he goes to concentration on death -- the signs thereof; on life as it draws to an end; and on separation. So this is one way you can meditate on impermanence. That the first thing is: “I’m going to die.”

And this is Rinpoche’s favorite way of starting off talks with new people. I remember once in Hawaii, we were staying with a couple. She, the woman was very sweet. They were retired. And he was a hard-nosed engineer businessman, from aerospace, I think. And over dinner, he kept asking Rinpoche, you know, “Why is it necessary to practice religion? Why is it necessary? Well, what’s the point? Isn’t it all hocus-pocus?” So that evening in a public talk attended by about 400 people Rinpoche started it off by saying, "Well, some of you are probably wondering why you're here. So let me start off by saying that there are three kinds of people who don’t need to be here tonight. First, all of those, all of you know who you are not going to die, there is no point in you being here. So you might as well leave. Secondly, all of those who you know that when you die, nothing is going to happen. And if you know that’s the case, then you might as well leave, because I don’t have anything to say to you. And the third kind, the people here who know that when they die, if they're going to be reborn, it's going to be in something better than they have now. If you know that, that’s fine. But if you don’t know one of those three things, then maybe you want to stick around.” 
And then another time, we were in Vancouver. And we had this wonderful dinner in a very nice home. And it was a typical Vancouver winter night, it was just cold and rainy and miserable. And so after dinner the...the husband of this couple said to Rinpoche, “So Why...why is it important to practice?” And Rinpoche said, “Well, right now we’ve just had this lovely meal. And here we are sitting around. We have a nice fire, and it’s all warm. Imagine what it would be like if you had to take off all your clothes, go out into that cold, dark, stormy night and you know that you could never come back here. Well, death is much worse that that.”

And there is the case of -- who is it in Minnesota, the Zen teacher starts with a K? I can’t remember. Anyway, had this huge fundraising...fund-raiser put on. And so all of this...all of the glitterati of Minneapolis were gathered here. And they -- you know, the usual things -- they had been wined and dined. And now here comes the Zen master that they're all there to give money to. And so he comes downstairs, looks at everybody and says, “You know that you are all going to die, don’t you?”

And it is the probably the single most important thing to take in about your life -- that it is going to come to an end. And it is why teachers talk about it again and again. Because when you really take it in, you begin to relate to your life as your life. Not -- as we were discussing before -- as the life which society has conditioned you for. So, and it takes a lot of work to over...overcome all of that conditioning.

Then the second thing is attention to the signs of death. And the third here is to be conscious that life is passing moment to moment."