Death In The West

I was thinking about death. I do that allot lately.  So many people I know in my family and circle of friends have been afflicted by cancer or in other cases by simple misery – causing them to commit suicide. My husband suggested that it was because we were getting older – so of course more people were going to be dying.  But i know in my case that’s not really true. I have known allot more death than others, and with the recent loss of my brother and my friend it got me to thinking about how we see and handle death in our culture and what a mess we are.

Here in the west, we don’t spend allot of time with the idea of death. We ignore it, we institutionalize it, we avoid it and we misrepresent it in a million zillion ways.

Let’s talk a little logical Buddhism now.

Living is all about impermanence.  There is absolutely nothing, not one thing, on this earth that is going to remain for all time. I’m sorry if that is a shock to your system, or perhaps your mind is trying to figure out why I am wrong, but it is true. You’re going to die. Your dog is going to die. Your friends will die. Your parents will die. Your children will die one day too, everyone in their own time.

Impermanence is the first law of the universe. Everything must continue to change, pass through, and evolve. nothing is static. Everything is always evolving.

Sound logical?

Of course. Except that your mind and every cell of your body has been trained to believe otherwise.

Our culture is hyper-geared towards denying the continuity of change and the sureness of death.  We spend our entire lives waking up to fulfill desires that we believe that help us feel better so we can continue to deny the fact that we are going to die.

The average Western life is a travesty of delusion:

 First of all we invest our time on earth in jobs to buy things we can’t afford, like houses with mortgages that we spend our lives repaying. We spend our days buying things to impress our neighbours. We put countless hours and thought and energy into taking care of those things – manicuring the lawns, painting the walls and filling houses with useless things that require dusting.  Finally, if we are “lucky”, we get old and sit amongst the dust and memories of our “things” pining over the past which was fleeting and temporary – never guaranteed of permanence.

Not exactly a live-in-the-moment culture. Meanwhile our media pushes the importance of eternal youth as the solution to lasting happiness, and we imbue ourselves with technology, so we don’t have to have real relationships.

For God’s sake.

You can’t seriously wonder why the Donald trumps of the world are so popular. He epitomizes all I have just said.

Of course, Eastern philosophy is very different than here in the west namely through a significantly lower focus on material, and higher on spiritual goals in daily life; death is not a frightening mystery to most easterners.

I was watching a television show about Varanasi India,  a 3000 year old city in India and a place where many people go to die or be buried. It is believed that if you are cremated in a certain place in Varanasi, you can avoid certain aspects of reincarnation and become an enlightened being more easily.

I watched body after body, draped in colourful cloth and dotted with flowers and other symbolic items be carted to fires to be cremated.

What caught my attention were the children, trailing behind the procession of bodies, laughing and skipping merrily behind. They were not dressed in black made to weep with bowed heads.

“And they’re not traumatized”, i thought to myself. they look happy, and light and unconcerned with the whole thing.

We don’t show children in our culture death in this way, do we?  We don’t represent death as the normal transition – the beautiful life lived – the awesome way nature recreates itself through us, by letting us live the cycle of life.

Instead what do we show them about death?

Video games and movies.

Don’t let this be the first understanding of “death” that your child has!

We show them death in horrible horrendous ways that have nothing to do with reality.

We bring them to Ultimate Fighting Competitions where we let them watch humans beat each other like starving animals.

We hide the dying away in palliative care centers.

My children were surprised at the peacefulness of the experience of my mother dying. Although it is always painful to watch the end of a loved one’s life – it is in no way the dramatic and terrifying experience often portrayed in the media.

But we are so programmed. My mother asked me to die at the farm where I live – I am sorry today that i did not allow this to happen. The idea of it was so foreign and frightening to me at the time, that I simply could not entertain it. The irony is in how much I have learned from her death.

Dying is not a shameful act that needs to be institutionalized.  We are a culture terrified of the inevitable. We create religions that support our fears and cause us to do all manner of harm to one another in this life, for fear of what we don’t know about the next life. And we educate our children about everything under the sun – except who they are, as a creation, being and their own consciousness.

I remember most vividly H.H.the Dalai Lama in Perth saying that if we did nothing else differently after his talk, to go home and meditate or “contemplate” our own death, for ten minutes, every day.

At the time I thought it was the most bizarre suggestion i had ever heard, especially in my state of grief over the death of my mother. But I did it, because he seemed to be the most genuinely happy man I had ever seen, despite some very difficult circumstances, so i figured it was worth a shot.

I pictured myself on my death bed – at the point where the voices of the people I loved were fading around me, and I wondered what i would be thinking of right before “lights out”. I wondered what i would see, if I would see my loved ones, if my kids would be OK…I wondered…

The questions that came up on my “before lights out” tour of imagination, would translate into a focus for the day.  These contemplations had the effect of making me appreciate the moments of my life more. They were not morbid at all and over time this “meditation” has become a habit which has brought me comfort during times of grief.

When I consider every single thing that ails our culture and communities, I am able to bring it back to a fear and denial of our inevitable death.  I believe the Dalai Lama was right when he said that the solution for our planet lies in the individual efforts of everyone to focus on finding out who and what you are.

Something which you already know – but have covered up with what you have been taught.

It’s hard to find out what we have been taught about the world and what is important and not important is completely wrong. Of course we want to deny that and keep going the way we are, because that is easier. And we like easy.

We are all about easy, because we have desires and wants and we get up every morning and do everything we can to fulfill those desires and wants. That’s it.

The irony of our desires and wants is that mostly we don’t know where they come from or what need they are really fulfilling.  We are unconscious of them.

But the world in general is becoming more conscious.

There is no coincidence that there is a surge of interest in meditation and discussion around different forms of Buddhism emerging in western culture. All happening alongside a new interest in Hinduism, and “the Nouveau hippy” culture – (I think they call themselves “hipsters” – a materialistic form of non-materilaist (to be covered another time…it’s too good to pass up 😉) – but whatever form it takes, it is clear that the west is waking up (finally) and expressing a desire to know itself in a fundamentally new way.

 

 

YOU ARE ENOUGH!

loveWe all know there is a difference between religion and spirituality in that religion is a way of thinking, and spirituality is a way of life.

The way you come to have a spiritual life is by willingness – a willingness to move within the parameters of something which can never be fully understood by the human mind – capable of 10% functionality in the best case scenario.  There are things that must be felt and understood at a level that far surpasses the limitations of human cognitive comprehension – or – 5 sensory comprehension.   The reason why twelve step programs work is because they help to facilitate a mystical experience in individuals willing (by imposed circumstance) to keep their minds open and see the world in a different more connected way. The twelfth step is the connecting point where the individual brings their experiences to share and contribute to the larger community. In effect, twelve step programs are a working applied model of methodology steps am processes for expanding global consciousness.  It is no mistake that the founder of this movement was influenced greatly by his use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD – used in those tiems as experimental treatment for bi-polar and other emotional “disorders”.

How do you arrive at a spiritual view of life?  Usually the hardest way possible. For some it happens like it did for me; a mystical experience as a lucid dream.  And like most people who have these types of experiences, they originate from emotional pain and an absolute requirement to give up personal will and fully surrender. I am convinced that people who commit suicide are a second away from a moment of enlightenment that would lead them to understand that all pain in life is a gift of potentiality. In my case, this experience encompassed a momentary timeless connection with an extremely loving eternal source. A shifting of all I understood to be “true” in the world occurred. I was reminded and shown where we all come from and where we are all heading back to – where we have never really left. As a result of this experience I came to understand things in my own terms; God, our life, the reason for us, our world and the time we spend in life – in a very different and beautiful way.

I love and reject equally all religions.
I love all religions because they always have something to teach me ~  I reject all religions because I believe God has no rules

For example: The reason I Am not Christian is because Christianity teaches us that God is an entity outside, separate and apart from us – like a temperamental, condemning judging presence. I simply did not feel this was the truth in my heart.

The reason that I Am Christian is because the fundamental politics-aside teaching of the religion are that God lives within us and the purpose of our lives is to be kind to one another and of service with whatever gifts we were endowed with when we were born. This sounds like Truth to me. Most religions and spiritual ideologies carry the same message: The Golden Rule – Do Unto Others.

We are born with understanding of our divinity. I think children have an inherent knowledge of their own divinity and that we as a culture work very hard to eliminate it before we send them off into their lives. Even our religions all teach that God prefers certain people to others, depending on their behaviour or who they are. So, instead of God being used to teach children about their personal power, we have structured religions to empower conformity and disempower creativity and unique expression. Until recently I think most people have remained relatively unaware of the impact of this in their lives. Something like social neutralisation, making large masses of people easier to control, I suppose.

Questioning religious authority has never been greatly encouraged. Questions seemed to indicate a gap in faith- which was, in our church, unacceptable – shameful even. Raised catholic, I remember asking the priest why I had to “talk to the vice president( Jesus) rather than straight to the CEO (God)”. Not having a ready answer – Father Fitzpatrick was not impressed. My question was considered indolent and rebellious.I was made to go to Sunday school and write out the ten commandments over and over until I could recite them by heart. Soon after I was sent to a convent where my inability to be able to process what they were trying to teach caused me a very short three week stay before even the nuns had to admit that this was not where I would ever fit in. I was only eight years old at the time, but something inside me clearly knew the difference between true and untrue.

I never really mistook the God of judgement and church for the God I knew inside myself. But I explored every conceivable avenue from paganism, Wicca, to Judaism, Jainism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and mythical folk tales from many originating cultures. I discovered that the bottom line of each of the serious religions is the same– divinity lies within the soul-space ofeach individual.The key to understanding this is self discovery through study of major religions and spiritual practices. where you put your mind– your life will follow. I do not consider Satanism or Wicca even a serious religion as they seek to control the uncontrollable and manifest wants and greed– this is not spiritual living. It is simply a slower route towards self discovery.

As my awareness grew in study things started to happen more and more in practice.  Synchronicities, coincidences, inexplicable congruencies.  One day I began to actually pay attention and respond consciously to unconscious signals. I had deep and moving conversations with people…and I really started to HEAR them. In most cases I learned to identify what FEAR looked like and I saw it clearly through them, in myself. Fear, I concluded, was the opposite of love – and living in a state of love was a much happier way to live.

I discovered that people can choose to handle life’s inevitable pains in one of two ways: They can either grow or they can shrink by it.A difficult experience can kick you into high gear and you can be motivated to  make extraordinary changes in your life which place you closer to the life path your soul intends. Or you can avoid it (meaning the emotions of the difficult situation) and fill the empty spaces in you with false comforts and temporary fixes, and stay stuck in the misery that is all in your head. Misery comes only from not accepting something for exactly how it is.

Sometimes our thoughts, as captain of team ego, lead the way in moving us from soul choices to fear choices…
The soul is the part of us which IS God. Not God apart…God inside.
Once you live with the possibility that you don’t need to have a relationship with GOD – but one with YOURSELF in order to feel happy and balanced in all circumstances, your choices can’t help but change.Once you fully process the implications thatyou are an EXPERIENCE that God is having, you will find that necessarily things around you change. You make conscious choices, not based on fear, guilt and remorse, but based on solid self knowledge and boundless love.

God has ALL the knowledge, but we both know that knowledge and actually LIVING something is very very different.

We are THE LIFE and the THOUGHT and WISDOM of God.
We are God.
And every life is incredible.

The great pay-off for all the psychological work we do is that your perception of your past and “troubles” will completely change. You will see that really you had NO TROUBLES!! They were just experiences – and the experiences you had were directly related to what you were calling into your life.You will begin to loose your sense of “right and wrong” and “good and bad”. Guilt and self reproach will melt away in the light of consciousness.
Self Forgiveness will come more easily and more necessarily.
Maya Angelou always says “If you would have known better – you would have done better!”
This is true.
All guilt, anger, resentment, fear and jealousy melts away.

This is my experience only…
Even the depression I had suffered with most of my life since young adulthood suddenly lost its hold on me. This all happened not in a day, but over progression and a continued desire to keep experiencing whatever life threw at me in a way that was geared towards understanding myself – not changing the way the world worked or the people in my life thought. I knew my days of trying to change the unchangeable were coming to a close. What a relief!

I began to melt away – I began to lose my “self-identity”.
For example, in the past I had been a very strong political idealist. I have a university degree in Political Science and a great deal of my identity was based on how smart I could sound when I was telling you my opinion about everything. And I had many opinions and felt passionately aligned with many concepts. When talking about these things, my heart would beat faster, my palms would sweat, it would become a competition of who could outsmart who – and who could get the “killing shot” thought in that would nullify the validity of the other person’s argument. One day, I didn’t care about anyone opinions, and I didn’t really have many of my own left. A few, maybe healthy opinions, like those based on my intuitive feelings about people causing me to make choices about who I do and don’t spend time with. And even after having been born raised and weaned on politics in volatile eastern French Canada with my family and very involved father, I found I no longer even had an attachment to my nationality. I wasn’t Canadian, or white, or female or a mother or a wife… I was just ME. Not me woman, or me Canadian or me mother or me wife – just ME. And for once…that seemed to be ENOUGH.

Please let me tell you what I have learned about SOUL MATES!!

Soul mates are not nice happy fluffy loving…big moment of romance, candlelight and sparkly stars…la la la…easy love people.
Nope.
Soul mates can be the ones that tear you to BITS.
They cause your soul BE PRESENT by WAKING IT UP and pushing the ego aside just long enough for you to hear clearly how it feels to listen to your most inner self. They blast open spaces in you, and sometimes the process is abit shaky, but nothing much changes in stasis. The work is worth it because in the end , you find YOU. And that’s the best part. All worth it 🙂

Everyone goes through this to some extent. The difference in the journey is what direction they decide to take when the inevitable difficulties in life rear their heads. That’s where “free will” comes in and sometimes that much freedom can cause us to question and feeling alone. It’s part of the human process…akin to the “walk in the desert”…etc.

Your points of reference for spiritual connection that worked in the past…may no longer be working for you. I think it may be sometimes even more difficult for people who had strong religious ties to find the true feeling of God within themselves than it is for an agnostic or atheist who is expecting very little or nothing from the divine.
The bible was an important book, but needs to be read with some intelligence and awareness. Not blindly and fearfully. It seems that the Bible has been a game of “pick and choose” since the very beginning.

Did you know that there were many gospels hidden away because they didn’t fit in with the MALE dominated ideology of the church…(EG: Nicaean Counsel 367ad and 368ad consisted only of and handful of wealthy male Cardinals. Any gospel which gave women power or individuals self governance over their relationship with God were dismissed and put in a cave in Nag Hamadi Egypt. Later to be discovered only in 1947 as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Catholic Church took until 1967 to acknowledge their authenticity, finally renouncing its incorrect claim that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, changing the course of how and why women are viewed the way they are in history forever.  If this sparks interest in you, I recommend you look up the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene” and read it for yourself to expand your current idea of the Bible story. All holy books though, have been misused by man to control the minds and hearts of the masses. The current planetary shift in consciousness energy is causing the individual heart to break loose of the limitations imparted on us for so many millenia. It is a necessary step forward and the only logical way to move ahead and past our current violent and ecologically self absorbed mindset.

And if you’re in a bad place REMEMBER!!

You haven’t lost God…you have just lost your sense of SELF for a little while.
Be ok with whatever place you stand in. Just be WONDERFUL YOU!!

And don’t be HUMBLE about that! Peacocks aren’t HUMBLE…they strut their stuff unabashedly. 🙂

NOTHING in the universe has EVER been made exactly like YOU.
You have unique talents gifts and abilities which are designed SPECIFICALLY to work in some way towards your personal ability to work on God’s behalf in this life.
That’s all.

It’s not even COMPLICATED!!

But religion made it seem VERY complicated. And ridiculous at times.

Timothy 2:12 says women are not allowed to teach about God in church and never to men.
Please. Who believes such nonsense.
Women are the creators of people!
We need to find the God within ourselves to HEAL this planet.
And rememeber:
We are ALWAYS changing.
Relationships go stale in energy – sometimes quickly for some people who are not settled in themselves. People look for FRESH energy – that’s where affairs come in.
But if you are lucky you learn that there are NO special relationships…there are no LOVES higher than the ultimate love and it is POSSIBLE to be in LOVE and not rely on a poor faulty human to fill what you need inside yourself. We have to learn to fill the spaces inside of ourselves with the resources around us. Imagine!! Love, sex, security, friendship, intellectual exchange, creative inspiration –
THESE are fundamentally important to growth and development and spiritual expression.

You are not your thoughts.
You are not your body.
YOU are not your emotions
YOU are not your actions
YOU are not your past
YOU are not your relationship

Get it?
YOU just are!
A beautiful empty space – a container – full of unbelievable untapped potential! YOU are the listener of your thoughts, the thinker of your mind…that place behind the obvious out front you – is your essence. That’s your soul. Quiet, waiting. You don’t need to “believe” in it, you don’t need to do anything…you can just BE for your soul…and that is ENOUGH.

God made us all ENOUGH.

~Namaste~