“Death is the only wise adviser that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, ‘I haven’t touched you yet.'” ~ Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan
I have been thinking of physical life as a stage in the process of our evolution, and seeing the end of our physical existence simply as a moment of transition to another educational campus. I imagine someone coming to me, when the moment approaches, and saying, “OK. Enough. You have learned the lessons you needed to learn and taught the lessons you were brought here to teach. There’s no need for you to stay here anymore. It is time for you to leave this dimension and go the the next one.”
I like to think that physical death is just another moment of transition on this evolutionary journey. It is not that we reach the end of our journey when we die; it simply continues in another dimension.
I can understand people feeling sad when a loved one dies. There is sadness in all separations. But this sadness, perhaps, is just because that person will not be around — at least not physically — and we won’t be able to enjoy their presence any longer. I can also understand the anxiety, fear, and the sense of insecurity one feels with the loss of a family member: many new challenges may arise for which those who remained may feel unprepared or incapable of dealing with. But in the end, everything will be OK, right? As the saying goes, “In the end, everything will be OK. If it is not OK, it’s just because it’s not the end.”
Many times people say that the person died too soon, that he or she had so much to live and give still, that his or her life was cut short, that now, after all the hard work and sacrifice he or she endured, was their time to enjoy life … But all these statements come from the assumption that the person would be happier staying here than where he or she is right now. What about embracing the idea that there is no better place than the one we go to after our physical deaths? What about rejoicing and celebrating the good fortune of the deceased?
What comes to my mind is the idea that babies are reluctant to leave the wombs of their mothers. They are comfortable where they are, so when the time of birth arrives, they protest and cry. They want to stay with the known because they fear the unknown. I can draw a parallel with the moment of physical death. We got accustomed with our lives in this dimension, and we don’t want to die. Just like the babies, we don’t want to leave the known to venture in the unknown. But who says that what we will experience is not immensely better?
There are other ways of understanding life. We can say that we exist because certain conditions came together and brought us into existence. We exist while conditions that keep us alive continue to exist. The moment that such conditions cease to exist, so do we: we die. This is a very liberating explanation. It’s an approach that invites us to consider that there is no ‘self,’ that there is no ‘I’ to be attached to, only conditions and circumstances that are constantly changing, creating and extinguishing phenomena.
We all die, right? Impermanence of everything is the rule, right? So, we must accept death with equanimity.
Some of my friends tell me that I shouldn’t talk so much about death; that I talk about death too much. For me, that’s not the problem. The problem is that we don’t talk about it enough.
So I would like you to know that I am happy, content and satisfied with my life, and thrilled with what lies ahead, both in this life and the dimension. I have had, and continue to have a rich life, full of great experiences and relationships. I am highly blessed and experience great abundance. I am able to see magic, mystery and miracles all around me. I feel blessed because I have learned to notice beauty: the beautiful sunrise, the scents in the air, the dance of the leaves in the breeze that caresses me. I am grateful for the life I have, and the people I share it with, especially my wife and sons. I am able to do what I like, and although I feel that I haven’t finished giving my contribution yet, I feel that I am leaving the world a little better than I found it, not only through what I have done, but also through everything my sons have done and will do. I am proud of my accomplishments. I have no regrets. I am at peace.
I invite you to read the excellent book Sunset Stories: Lessons from the Dying for the Living by Paul Veliyathil, and these two blogs:
Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect and write, and who not only aspires to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He leads mindfulness silent retreats and organizes Silent Peace Walks. He lives in Florida, USA. Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs (Sundays at 9:00 AM) and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach (Thursdays at 6:30 AM and 12:30 PM)
Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store
– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”