The first question:
When the moment comes the leaf lets go its tender hold and greets its dying with inner grace. Is it then that the way is open for life to embrace its own e’er the leaf touches down?
Yes, that’s the secret of life and death both, the secret of the secrets: how to allow existence to pass through you totally unhindered, unobstructed, how to be in a state of absolute non-resistance. Buddha calls it tathata – suchness.
The ego is resistance. Let-go means disappearance of the ego. When you are just a hollow bamboo, existence sings millions of songs through you. It transforms you into a beautiful flute. But you have to be a hollow bamboo, utterly empty, so there is nothing to obstruct the flow.
A total yes is sannyas, an unconditional yes: yes to all, to life and to death – because death is not against life but is life’s ultimate culmination, its highest peak. Yes to joy and yes to sadness too, because joy cannot exist without sadness. Joy is possible only if sadness creates the background. They are joined together so intrinsically that they are inseparable. And man’s whole effort is to separate them. Man goes on trying to do the impossible – he wants to live without death. Now that is utter stupidity! Life implies death; death is at the very core of life. The only way to deny death is to deny life too.
So the people who have tried to deny death have died; before death has come they are no longer there. They have not lived at all. In denying death they had to deny life too, because the more you live the more you become available to death. When life is at the peak, death is the closest. Avoid death and you will have to avoid the peaks of life. You will have to live in a lukewarm way, neither dead nor alive, which is far worse than death itself.
And so is the case with all the polar opposites: destroy one and the other is automatically destroyed. You cannot save the other; they are like two aspects of the same coin.
Seeing it, a great understanding arises. One relaxes. One says yes, to life, to death, to darkness, to light, to sadness, to joy, to all that is without any choice. That choiceless understanding is enlightenment, is buddhahood.
You say, “When that moment comes the leaf lets go its tender hold and greets its dying with inner grace….”