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Embracing Death — What If Life Isn’t Precious?
I wrote today’s article several years ago directly following a California retreat I held where I was shocked to find myself — in addressing someone’s experience of grief — talking about the notion that life was NOT precious. This was surprising because, despite death being a popular topic, I had never been shown that particular spiritual perspective before — hence I wrote the article.
In reading it let me remind you that the basis of what I teach is that there is no absolute truth and that all perspectives have value — which is the inclusive teaching of “ALL as truth”. This is why I like to explore perspectives that are commonly rejected. Therefore, in this article I am not saying that the idea that “life is precious” does not hold great value; I am just exploring the often-overlooked value of the opposite perspective.
I want to share a beautiful moment from the Los Angeles retreat this past weekendFollowing channels on releasing energies held within the body and belief-systems, and then a morning on opening to allow ourselves to “feel everything”, a participant called Mike — a kind and humorous man — spoke of his fear of death. What followed was a powerful and beautiful sharing of emotion, a releasing of the past, and the transformation of his present feeling and belief.
This was a clear example of how the willingness to feel is all we need to unfold and reveal All-That-We-Are.
Mike: Well I don’t know. I’m afraid it’s just going to be nothing — nothingness — like you’re just wiped out. I don’t know who I am yet. How can I say I’m going to die when I don’t know who the “I” — the self — is that dies.
story: The best description I’ve ever heard as to what death is, the description that most resonates with me, is that death is like taking off a pair of tight shoes — that’s what it feels like. I’ve always had that feeling and it has helped me release the fear of the moment of death. It is through connecting with my spirit in life that I have freed my fear of death. When are the moments you most feel your spirit?
story: The way you said the word “precious” there, there was this energy of finiteness, that life is limited, that it only lasts so long. What about the idea that if you find this experience to be precious and enjoyable then you will just come back again?
Mike: Well, I’ve thought that intellectually.
Mike: It’s the head thing — science — my education.
story: Is it because you want to believe it? many people have an idea that if it is something you want to believe then you are just kidding yourself. What is the part of you that is stopping you from just relaxing and saying, “I don’t need to worry about death because I’ll just come back. I am eternal.” What part of you doesn’t believe you are eternal? What is the resistance?
Mike: When I was seven years old, I had a baby brother. This was the fifties. I heard my mother screaming. It was a crib death. He was there on the bed and there was this picture of Jesus. And I asked Jesus to not let him die. And he died. There’s no Jesus — there is no nothing — there is nothing because he died. I prayed really hard for him and he died. For no reason. Why should he die? Why? (Mike let his emotions flow which was the choice to fearlessly allow his full capacity to feel; to revisit and heal that moment.)
story: Wonderful to let this out. To feel this. What you are saying is that this is the answer to the question — THIS is the resistance. This is what you have been holding onto and you are letting it out which is letting it transform. This is what you have been carrying. So, let yourself feel it…
… because on the other side of the feeling, on the other side of the anger, the other side of the “why?!” is feeling his spirit. Your baby brother is the answer, because you can feel his spirit, and that is what I’d like to invite you to invite into your life — feeling his spirit — because he is the answer; he is the proof.
He is the proof that you go on. He is the proof you don’t go to nothingness — your connection with him, your strength, this feeling.
So, open yourself over the coming days and weeks to feel him, and when you feel him, you’re going to feel more of this grief, more of these tears, and that is releasing the wound. And then… once the wound has cleared and you have allowed yourself to come to peace with what happened, that is also the freedom of coming to peace with death and knowing you continue.
following other participants sharing, I came back to Mike and his comment that “life is precious”. On the surface this seemed such a beautiful, positive comment that it would be good for everyone to feel but, when Mike said it, I just felt the energy of “life is finite, and death is wrong” all around it.
life is everywhere. You can’t get rid of it. It is like a weed that is constantly coming up. You cannot stop this life. It is the opposite of precious. There is a plague of life. You can’t extinguish this life. You cannot extinguish life. You are eternal.
There is nothing you can do about this. You can kill your body. Your body can die, but you will go on. You can have all different kinds of bodies in all different kinds of life. Life is abundant. So, I understand the beauty of “life is precious”, and that knowing does not go away, but it is stopping the polarity of precious versus not-precious. What is not precious?
In talking about your brother’s death you are saying that something wrong happened, but it was not wrong. It was a choice made by all of you. When your brother birthed into your family, he knew, and you all knew. On the spiritual level you had all agreed that this would happen, and it played out. You all chose it and you all chose it for a reason and it was a beautiful reason.
So now the invitation is to integrate this understanding. It was painful, so this is also to see that pain is not wrong, that suffering is not wrong, which is then to see that “wrong” is a mental judgment we project onto our experience that gives it a negative feeling.
In revisiting this article, I am struck by two things. Firstly, how it beautifully demonstrates something I regularly experience, which is the realization that when I answer people’s questions they usually quickly tell me the answer they are looking for. So, Mike asked about his fear of death and then spontaneously told me about the experience with his brother. The main thing to recognize in this is how it would be very easy to see that experience as being the cause of the problem, instead of seeing how it was pointing at his answer.
Secondly, I remember how this particular retreat produced one of the most life-affirming messages about the beauty of human life that I have ever delivered. This is — of course — no co-incidence and I believe that it was only through delivering such a strongly life-affirming message the previous day about the beauty of life that I was able to then see this opposing perspective through which, at its most extreme, I was able to see life as an unrelenting plague. This points to the balance that occurs within our perception because of everything being fundamentally neutral with opposing viewpoints developing, in tandem, as equal and opposite reactions.