Death confronts all of us at one point, whether we face our own mortality or the mortality of someone we’re close with, but most people don’t know that it isn’t the end of life. We’re conditioned to think our loved ones are gone when they pass away, when in reality, they’re just as alive as ever in a different place.
We empower death when we fear it, and we can transcend that fear with the understanding that we live in a deeply spiritual reality and our plane of existence is just one out of many, which all boast life in different forms.
There are lower and higher realms of consciousness beyond our reality, which we can access with meditation and other spiritual practices. When we begin to approach enlightenment, we start to understand that there is no death as we perceive it – there’s only the move from one state of consciousness to another.
If we achieve enlightenment in this lifetime, we can transcend reincarnation altogether and assure that we never have to come back to this sphere again.
We can still come back if we want, but I’m sure most of us will remain on the higher vibration we’ll have finally reached. After all of our hard work to get there, I’d imagine the last thing we’ll want to do is come back to earth and start the process all over again.
Bodhidharma reminds us that this life, and everything in it, is an illusion that we can understand and subsequently transcend with awareness.
“Life and death are important. Don’t suffer them in vain. There’s no advantage in deceiving yourself. Even if you have mountains of jewels and as many servants as there are grains of sand along the Ganges, you see them when your eyes are open.
“But what about when your eyes are shut? You should realize then that everything you see is like a dream or illusion.” (1)
He also encourages us to steer clear of distortion and delusion.
“Don’t hate life and death or love life and death. Keep your every thought free of delusion, and in life you’ll witness the beginning of nirvana, and in death you’ll experience the assurance of no rebirth.” (2)
To ‘transcend life and death’ is to open up to a higher sphere, he tells us.
“Transcending life and death is leaving home. Not suffering another existence is reaching the Way. Not creating delusions is enlightenment. Not engaging in ignorance is wisdom. No affliction is nirvana. And no appearance of the mind is the other shore.” (3)
Keeping the mind open, which purifies the thoughts and allows us to access the heart, will help us steer clear of any illusions that try to take us off of the enlightenment path, and it can be easy to lose ourselves in the earth’s convincing distractions.
It’s worth pointing out that this reality does offer some things that can help us along the journey, but we’re learning to steer clear of the things that hurt us as we keep our ultimate goal – Source consciousness – in mind.
We aren’t here to lose ourselves in the glimmering materiality that confronts us on a daily basis. We’re here to access our higher consciousness and use the awareness that results to show the way for others, and if we stay diligent and work hard to awaken the world, we’ll be ‘rewarded’ for our efforts when our mission’s complete.
The reward will come in form of an inexplicably pure, blissful state of existence, and we can introduce ourselves to this existence with tools like meditation. In doing so, we’ll begin to wipe away the convincing illusions that have kept us from traversing our path, and we’ll help others do the same.
Ramana Maharishi reminds us that no fear – even the fear of death – can touch us when we’re truly aware of our spiritual nature and the interconnectedness of all things.
“How shall the wise man, who desires tranquility, wait for old age, when he knows not when the time of death will be?
“When death stands ready like a hunter, with old age as his weapon, and diseases scattered about as his arrows, smiting down living creatures who fly like deer to the forest of destiny, what desire can there be in any one for length of life?
“When does that fear seize you? Does it come when you do not see your body, say, in dreamless sleep or when you are under chloroform? It haunts you only when you are fully ‘awake’ and perceive the world, including your body. If you do not see these and remain your pure self, as in dreamless sleep, no fear can touch you.” (4)
Only when we’re ‘awake’ (i.e. an active part of the waking, earthly world) do we fear death or anything else.
When we’re submerged in our higher consciousness, which takes place in dreamless sleep and deep states of meditation, we have no fear because we’ve returned to the center; the nothingness that we came from and will permanently return to when we’re ready.
It’s hard to fear death when we realize that emptiness is our true nature and the true nature of our creator (the Father). The Father is the most transcendent consciousness that could ever exist, and the labels ‘transcendent’ or ‘consciousness’ don’t describe Him very well.
No labels can describe the Father’s transcendent emptiness, and at some point (which is determined by our inner work), we’ll return to this infinite nothingness.
Almost every genuine spiritual source throughout the ages has told us this, and dreamless sleep is one of many things that allows us to temporarily reconnect with the Father and His emptiness, which reminds us that we have nothing to fear.
Fear is a product of the physical illusion we’ve convinced ourselves is reality, and the transcendence of fear is the first step to developing our greater awareness.
The best way to kick start the process is to realize that we’re infinite spiritual beings who are eternally connected with the Divine Father and Mother, and things will crystallize from there as long as we commit to the path.
Concluded in Part 2 tomorrow.
- Red Pine, trans., The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma. Port Townsend, WA, Empty Bowl, 1987, 6-7.
- Ibid., 29.
- Ibid., 24-5.
- S.S. Cohen, Guru Ramana. Memories and Notes. 6th edition. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1993, 39.
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