The Overcoat

I think.

I have memories.

I have desires.

I exist.

I am.

Who am I? What exactly is this “I?”

I think I know who I am, but the “I” that I am is certainly more than my body — or the many bodies I’ve been in. It has to be so because although the “I” is the same, the body keeps changing. As I look back at my life and think about it, my “I” has inhabited many bodies: the body of a newborn, a toddler, a child, a teenager, a young adult, and of an old man now. I ask myself, “Where are the bodies that I once occupied?” They don’t exist anymore. But I am still here. The “I” persists without those physical bodies.

I have recently learned that there isn’t a single cell in my body right now that was there seven years ago. I am dying all the time. Looking from another angle, I realize that while some cells are dying, other cells are being born. We are not only dying; we are also being born again and again. Both processes are taking place at the same time: death and birth. I keep dying and being born again.

Thinking about my final physical death, within this framework, I realize that death is not such a big deal: it is just one more death in the stream of deaths. I believe that the “I” that has persisted without the bodies it has once occupied, will still persist even without the physical body I may be ‘wearing’ at the time of my final death.

As my friend Bob once told me, “My body is just an overcoat. That’s all it is. When I got it, it was new and beautiful. The fabric was immaculate and soft. As years went by, it started to show some ‘wear and tear.’ It got dirty, and with time it came to  a point where I wasn’t able to wash the stains off anymore. The fabric lost its glow, and I couldn’t get rid of the wrinkles. Some holes started to show up. The overcoat lost some buttons, and I just went on wearing it without them. It will reach a point where it will be beyond repair. And then the time will come when I will have to throw the overcoat away because I will not be able to wear it anymore.”

overcoat

A lot of the pain and suffering we experience in life is due to our over-identification with self. But we have to come to the understanding that the “I” is just a construct of our minds, a concept that we have created, and that, as the Buddha has warned us, “nothing is to be clung to as I, me, or mine.” 

My friend Leslie, who had a near-death experience, tells that when she left her physical body she experienced an exuberant feeling of freedom. She tells that “the  feeling of freedom was combined with a deeper feeling of peace than I have ever known before or since…and exuberance/joy… And love. And the love was visible as the most beautiful white light imaginable. I was surrounded by love in the form of light. And I was in my true home.” She explains that in that moment she felt expansive, light, free, and realized how dense, heavy, and constricting the body was. Dying was, for her, a liberating and joyful experience. It was like removing a heavy overcoat. She says that although not comparable in magnitude, dying produces a feeling somewhat similar to taking off every single piece of clothing that may be bothering and constricting us after a long day of hard work, and going skinny dipping. It is a liberating and joyful feeling! She affirms that there’s no need to be afraid of death.

><><><><

Heaven’s Perspective is the tile of the book where Leslie Lott describes her near-death experience. Check it out. Here’s the link: Heaven’s Perspective

><><><><

Sailing to Byzantium
W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


 

Defeating Selfishness

Here we are, in this learning campus called Earth, enrolled in this course called Life, trying hard to get it right, so we can graduate and get the degree. Here we are, practicing to make the right choices, the ones that will bring Heaven to Earth, both at the individual and collective levels.

What have I learned so far?

I have learned that I am here to practice in order to become less selfish and more unselfish, less self-centered and more other-centered; I am here to learn to defeat selfishness. I have learned that it is all about making the right choices, and that the right choices are the ones inspired by love, while the wrong choices are the ones based on fear.

And how do I know love from fear?

Love takes the well-being of others in consideration while fear does not. Love is selfless. Fear is selfish. In order to make the right choices I need to pay attention to the thoughts in my head and determine where the motivation is coming from: love or fear?

I have learned that I can bring Heaven to my days, by practicing a few things, such as:

1 – I will decide beforehand that I will have a good day.

2 – I will give thanks everyday.

3 – I will pay attention and see Heaven all around me all the time.

4 – I will bring Heaven with me and share it with others wherever I go.

5 – I will choose unselfishness over selfishness.

6 – I will choose love over fear.

7 – I will perform acts of kindness, little and big ones, everyday.

8 – I will be the living expression of gratitude, kindness, generosity, compassion, patience, love, forgiveness, joy and peace.

Maybe this is what life really is… a passage through a place where we are given many opportunities to practice in order to master how to defeat selfishness.

I am practicing. I believe we can all get good at it!

DSCN3045

www.PieroFalci.com


 

 

 

A New Paradigm: We Are In Heaven!

We have been exposed to the idea that the world is imperfect and unjust, and that perfection and justice can only be experienced in Heaven. But what if we were told something radically different? What if we were told that we are in Heaven already? What if, instead of hoping to get to Heaven after we die, we were brought up and lived as if we were in the most blessed place in the Universe already? How would this impact life on Earth?

I now believe that in order to bring about a better world we need a sweeping new paradigm, and I feel called to offer my contribution.

Heaven is here! We are in Heaven!

IMG_1899

What if, instead of being told that we are in a ‘valley of tears, trials and tribulations,’ we were told something completely different, such as, that we are in a shared garden and playground? Imagine being greeted at arrival with this message, “Welcome. You made it! You are in Heaven! This is your garden. Enjoy its beauty, and take good care of it. This is your playground. Have fun, and improve it. And, by the way, share all toys.” What effect would that have on us?

What would happen if spiritual awakenings opened our eyes, enhanced our perception, and allowed us to feel the Divine Presence everywhere, see beauty and miracles all around, and realize that this is a world of plenty?

If children were raised hearing, “You are in Heaven,” what effect would that have on our relationships with one another and with all creation?

What would happen if we embraced the idea that we are in Heaven already?

IMG_1916

I envision the day when the prevailing idea on this planet will be that we are in a place engineered by the Creator to make us happy, and that those who made it here have won the biggest possible prize. Living here is a reward, not a punishment.

I envision the day when this new paradigm will lead us to organize life in this planet in such a way that everyone will have their needs met, everyone will be taken care of, no one will be left behind, and everyone will be totally supported to offer their best contributions to the world.

IMG_1915

Living in Heaven, and enjoying everything it has to offer begins with the acceptance of this new paradigm followed by the diligent practice of mindful attention, openness to be amazed by the wonders that surround us, and the practice of constant gratitude.

Here it is!

Enjoy Heaven, right here on Earth!

www.PieroFalci.com

www.opunited.org

www.SilentPeaceWalk.org