There’s no point in pretending it’s something not to think about. We do anyway don’t we? But it’s how we think about it that matters – and how we feel about it, even more so.
Carlos Castaneda rivets our attention on the ever imminent reality in proclaiming the Shaman’s rule: that unless one can stand face to face with the unflinching reality of death – one is unsuited to the role of warrior traveler.
Now some might retort “We are not aspiring to be warriors anyway, so why make a big deal out of it?” OK, but let’s not confuse the more standard war-like connotation of that word ‘warrior’ with its further meaning as: warrior traveler.
You see the ‘traveler’ factor is very significant; it means something that moves, that is not static. It suggests a continuing exploration, a voyage, change an unfolding event, doesn’t it? Many reading this are no doubt warrior travelers in the making; brave explorers within the divine drama of life.
But many more might wish to be, yet feel a little fearful of the many unknowns that face the would be initiate. I suggest that we all recognize this dilemma and share the insecurities and questions it raises within us.
So, just like any of life’s innumerable hurdles, we can start by looking at ‘passing’ as a creative challenge. There is clearly an art to dying just as there is an art to living. The question is, what might that art be … and will we be lucky enough to have a generous and largely pain-free space of quietude in which to perform it? That would indeed be a blessing.
I’ll have a stab at answering these rhetorical questions, but please bear in mind that they are my particular take on this – and I don’t pretend to suggest otherwise. This is a flight of the intuitive led imagination.
If dying is an art, then the first thing is to recognize is that it is ‘art in progress’, as it were.
We are talking about ‘transition’ are we not? We are talking about moving through different states of existence. And so as to make as smooth a transition as possible, we can benefit from preparing ourselves in certain ways.
All artists have to embrace the discipline of practicing and developing their skills, otherwise their talents are wasted. So we too can benefit from some discipline as our prelude to the act of passing.
Thus the art of dying may be enhanced by arranging a few practice sessions before finding ourselves (our souls) on this journey – whether we like it or not.
I have explored the possible nature of this transition as an extension of the discipline known as Hatha Yoga – and have gradually come to sense what it could be like.
This comes through the widely practiced discipline of ‘complete relaxation’ which is performed at the completion of the various stretches that comprise the majority of Hatha Yoga techniques. Many, I’m sure, will already know about this relaxation technique.
‘Complete relaxation’ is about letting go. So, I believe, is transitioning. Lying on one’s back with arms out to the side, one let’s all the stuff of daily life fall away, to be pulled down to the centre of the Earth; using a type of downward gravity that applies itself to the abstract thought process.
These largely useless thoughts are then consumed by a fire at the Earth’s core; and the pure energy, stripped of its burdensome weight, floats upwards into the cosmos. The trick to releasing this energy is to abandon one’s self completely to Source; Divine, Supreme Creator – or whatever force one feels brought one into this cycle of existence in the first place. For it is that same force that will take us home.
While spreadeagled on one’s back one gives one’s self over to benign universal powers and requests to be cleansed and healed: to loose one’s “I – dentity”; the dispensing of ego. So as to let all the ‘I’ centred thoughts fall away, until a deep calm and lightness of being prevails and a subtle sense of becoming spirit gradually takes over. One might then experience a subtle sense of floating upwards, just as the weight of the physical body falls away.
It is here, at this gentle point of separation between material physicality and spirit ether that we get something akin to a memory of transitioning into the vastness of the infinite. Infinite love. A dimension state named ‘heaven’ in the texts of old.
On the first part of this journey the presence of brilliant rays of light become manifest. Soon those photons are experienced as a state of being. Light as a state of being. Soul and light conjoined as one; expanding in intensity on the vibratory notes of a swelling symphonic resonance.
The speed of ascent may then quicken as ‘spirit I’ is pulled rapidly towards a magnetic point of great radiant power. It is here where a profound cleansing is initiated, causing our soul seed to merge into a great pool of highly energetic fecund plasma; freed of all molecular Earth bound energies that were a requirement of dealing with third density worldly existence. It is here where the soul seed (what remains of ‘us’) is melded into the vibratory expression of Essence itself.
Essence, vibrating at such a high velocity that it forms an oasis of profound stillness. The omnipotent melding of the dual. That which encompasses both Alpha and Omega points as One. The One.
That is the culmination of the outward journey. And also the culmination of an inward journey.
The inward and outward journeys arrive at the same source point they started from.
From here is fired the ecstatic ‘birthing cosmos’ double spiral. The re-beginning. Blasting the seed of fresh awakening life, back out into the next great unfolding cycle: a further phase of the adventure of ‘our’ purified spirit. Either re-experiencing life on Earth as the baby emerging from the womb of woman; or proceeding on another journey, guided by Source, to perform a role which gives further service to universal awakening.
As regards our individual journeys; well, they will be determined by our karma. Each journey is unique, yet in many other respects, similar. But the transition from ‘material’ life to ‘spirit after-life’ and onward into higher densities – or back to third density material existence once again – has one thing in common for all of us: its astounding mystery!
An intriguing part of this mystery surrounds the question: who decides if we return again to planet Earth?
It is my belief that we decide. But only if and when we have achieved (or maintained) a state of conscious awareness during the majority of our time on Earth.
Anyhow, a joyful embracing of ‘the great mystery’ is itself a vital factor in moving outward, onward and upward. In saying this, I’m not advocating a denial of true scientific exploration. When genuine and passionate, this complements our intuitive awareness.
Not so long ago, such a sense of mystery echoed out from the well thumbed pages of little books of fairy stories. Our eager young minds were opened as were our eyes, by the sense of wonder and anticipation which these tales invoked in us. That sense of mystery needs to prevail throughout our lives and into our passing; in spite of the ultra crude attempts being made to flatten, denigrate and ultimately destroy the living joy which is our birthright and cause to be.
After all, is it possible to observe sparkling water, swooping birds and gleaming forests – in fact any facet of the bounty of nature – without a sense of wonder?
Where are we if we can no longer innerly rejoice at the miraculous emanations of the great cycle of life and death? Where are we if we cannot be overcome, from time to time, by the astounding wealth of diversity and mystery that underscores the unfathomable journey which we are all on.
Where are we if we see in all this simply the ordinary, the inert and the functional? Where are we if it all comes down to just some sort of routine mediocrity; some soulless daily ordeal?
As the epitaph on the tombstone in an English graveyard declares “Here lies John Adams. The fact that he died does not guarantee that he lived.”
And that’s just it. To die well we have to live well. That means fully and generously; seizing every chance we have to fully utilize our potentiality, imagination and creative aspirations. Using them to bring justice to an unjust world. To boldly confront deceit with truth.
That is the prerogative attached to being ‘human’, and that which makes us proud of being human. A state we cannot accomplish when cut off from our fellow earthlings or when seeking solely to secure our own self interests or narcissistic ambitions. That is a road which runs counter to our deepest callings.
It results in the fact that death becomes a much feared event. Feared because death most assuredly terminates the willful cravings of the ego. Most surely shreds the puffed-up vanities of narcissism; and most surely confers upon its carrier further cycles of atonement, before ‘the passing’ is able to bring about a true freedom of spirit and an onward journey of joyous exaltation.
Yes, to die well – we must live well; in which we include giving others a leg-up on the road of life wherever possible – so that they may have the chance to shine and find the divine in themselves. Giving a lift to those who can benefit from our help, whatever their walk of life, whatever their failings or seeming faults – that is a fundamental expression of service to humanity which we are bound to put into action.
For in the end that person and us are unified in our struggle, sharing the same emotional pulls, needs and internal and external agonies and ecstacies.
Is there not one great pool of consciousness in which all we ‘human’ beings find shared commonality? And isn’t it imperceptibly rising at this very time? Are not the walls of ‘difference’ steadily breaking down?
For, at the centre of this pool of consciousness, is the cyclic mysterious ferment which has no observable life or death, but just an ever expanding IS. And that is where we are heading at the completion of our temporal physical existence on planet Earth. And that is where we all came from ‘once upon a time’.
That eternal, supreme and boundless state; at once all time and at once no time. That is what death has in store for us. Rejoice in this, a great initiation indeed!
Julian is a writer, farmer, actor and international activist. Find out about his acclaimed books by clicking here www.julianrose.info