My current client as well as a dear friend, both entered hospice just weeks apart last July. As an end of life care-provider, it feels as if I step onto a knife-edged ridge while walking towards the Light of our Formless Home with friends and clients. On this voyage Home, it feels to me, at times, as if precipices adorn all sides of the path and return to human form existence is unlikely.
There is really no going or coming. We are always what we have forever been.
Yet, various body-mind symptoms have flared up strongly during these saunters towards the always open Gate of Heaven. Sometimes my body and brain become quite debilitated.
During each encounter with those who are in the dying process, the idea of death is being put on trial. Will the fairy tale of death’s doom be believed?!
Spirit uses everything to wake us up from our mistaken identity and clouded vision. Yet, the most widely held assumption ‘I-am-the-body’ clings to us.
The Universal Source is always pointing us towards Reality, opening our Spirit eyes, shining the light beam on our hearts and helping us to realize our true and ultimate purpose, which is as one Indian Swami use to say:
Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate and Realize— who and what we really are.
My wife has been encouraging me to inquire more deeply in areas related to death and dying. As if I am not immersed enough, ha! She’s heard phrases coming out of my mouth more than a few times, like:
“How much longer will this body keep going?” Or, “I wonder if this body’s going to recover or die? These sentences unfurl from my mouth more often when an acute health situation flares up while escorting the dying.
She will respond: “Make it a good death.” Or sometimes she asks, “what makes a good death?” The one clear expression that really brings the juice happens when she exclaims:
“Lie down and really die right now. See yourself receding, dropping the body…”
Over the last decade, my human frame has undergone intense purification and I realize that ultimately there is no death for our True Nature but all body-vehicles will eventually run out of breath, have a moment when the vital force is withdrawn completely from our form.
How to live life fully and have a good death then? Both of these seemingly paradoxical questions are answered the same way: to forget or look between the thoughts that make up our idea of self, or to become disinterested in ideations of the mind and let go of the notion that we are restricted to one body.
The task before us entails inquiring into and letting die these false beliefs and concepts, while continuing to tear down the veil that obscures and seems to have imprisoned us. This work requires a 24-hour a day vigilant meditation and is done only to remove the covering that obscures Divine Sight.
Our entire life, all the most essential elements that we grasp at during our waking states, fall away during deep sleep and also at death.
I’ve lied to myself at times by believing ‘if only I knew the body was truly in a dying phase…had one month or one year left, it would be easy to surrender completely. Not knowing when the body might drop and being forced to pay rent, continue working when the body is barely functioning is difficult.’
We must see that every instance where a ‘sense of difficulty’ is perceived comes from our limited mind, a mixture of various thoughts and beliefs. In this awareness, we , realize the truth…’I’ was never doing anything, never the one making money, working, not even digesting food or anything else.
This last sentence might be disputed. “What do you mean, I do many things…”
Each form is compelled to do things (By God’s Will); no persona or individual actually does them. This is the truth which many find impossible to accept but pay a steep price through the device called suffering.
Each body and every aspect of the Universe is being moved about by the Divine Impulse, some call Consciousness, or the Absolute. Everything is God’s doing, the Divine tends to every detail. All that can be done is to be in awe of the unfolding, play a part by witnessing the miracle and by responding with kindness, compassion and love.
This is done through surrender.
So this inquiry my wife suggested, looking deeper into death, was a truth rocket launched directly at mistaken identity. Whenever we have a conundrum, difficulty, problem or issue, a tiny movement ‘I’ has appeared and attempted to fool us into believing that we can control an outcome or that ‘I’ must do something.
This game always begins with ‘I’…
That’s why the great Indian sage Ramana Maharhshi would tell devotees to use the inquiry “Who am I?” or What am I, really? For this returns one to the natural state. The sincere search for the ‘I’ -which can never be found- has been compared to a salt doll dissolving in the ocean. And in this dissolution, one does not die but returns to pure awareness, silence and peace, to what they have always been. We are always the divine presence, whether this fact is directly known or veiled by thoughts and conditioned patterns. Peace seems to be restored but in truth is always here and now. In this way, the inquiry ‘who am I’ severs the root of all problems, that of the illusory ‘I’-thought itself.
Before ‘I’ can claim doership and responsibility, the so-called ‘I’ is investigated. The pseudo ‘I’ relies on deception, misdirection and complication but recedes and dissolves under close scrutiny.
The path of Truth, to realize the Eternal, is generally bypassed and ignored by most humans. Instead we take notice of the fleeting appearances that promise profound experiences and dynamic entertainment or get lost in habitual nightmare scenarios and spin stories.
The simple, uncomplicated and subtle Current of Reality is not interesting to the mind, for egoic-mind does not exist there- only the pure mind or Self does. No grand experiences or rewards are given once Divine Sight is restored. Freedom from the tyranny of the mind is no reward, it is the living truth and our heritage, the armor of God.
Truth-Reality is only for those who are earnest and sincere, human-beings that understand silence and refuse to stamp ‘I’ as Reality. Once we return to our True Nature as enduring awareness, we see what does not come and go and are perfectly content to rest in and witness the Immaculate Mystery no matter how it appears.