"Death as Your Advisor"
by Michael Ra Bouchard, Ph.D.
Copyright 2015, Michael Ra Bouchard, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
(7,488 words, 25-30 min read)
November 2, 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Eternity,
Today on this “Day of the Dead” holiday honoring those who are gone but not forgotten, I would like to share a few homespun thoughts with you about living and dying.
While the topic of death is a conversation largely avoided in modern America, the remembrance of deceased ancestors and loved ones is a millennia old tradition amongst diverse cultures around the globe. Moreover, in these turbulent times of worldwide strife and devastating natural disasters, nobody’s lacking for reminders regarding the fragility and impermanence of our all-too-brief mortal existence.
Consequently, with heart-wrenching human misery, despicable violence and senseless bloodshed from near and afar daily flooding our senses, it’s essential we make every effort to direct our focus on the upside of life and—while we’re at it—on the upside of death. Whereas doing so won’t eliminate the downside, it provides perspective that helps balance it. A good starting point is to remind ourselves that every day is a gift, each morning a fresh beginning.
All yesterdays should be yesterdays, all tomorrows should be tomorrows. Sufficient is it to know that the way we lived our yesterday has determined for us our today, and that the way we live our today determines for us our tomorrow. And so it goes throughout our life until the day we “join the majority.”
Death is our eternal companion, always nearby, watching, and ever will be until that fateful moment it taps us upon the shoulder. It’s difficult to feel important or irritable when we remember that death is always stalking us. Indeed, a great deal of pettiness is often dropped and clarity of perspective gained when we catch a glimmer of our own death.
The 19th century Yaqui Indian Warrior and Man of Knowledge Don Juan Matus believed that death is the only wise advisor we have. He emphasized the importance of using our death to keep perspective, yet without sadness, remorse or worrying. Don Juan held that the only deterrent to despair in this short-lived existence is awareness of our impending death, and that this awareness subsequently gives us strength to withstand the duress and pain of our lives and our fears of the unknown.
He further advised that no matter what happens to us, no matter how badly we feel, when things are going wrong, even when we believe ourselves about to be annihilated, we need only turn to our death and ask if this is so. Don Juan insisted your death will say you are wrong, that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you “I haven’t touched you yet.”
What’s more, we must stubbornly refuse to live in fear of death, though it’s perfectly natural to fear what we don’t know. For those possessing faith in an afterlife forever reunited with loved ones on the Other Side, the transition from life to death can be less frightening—and for some, even gently beckoning.
It has been said, “What follows this life is an unfathomable mystery, an area of darkness that we the living reserve for the dead.” Not knowing what lies beyond the veil is yet another piece in this mystical life of ours puzzle. It’s the final surprise. Sooner or later and altogether conveniently, to unravel the mystery of death one only has to die.
On a personal note, I distinctly recall a huge wave of relief washing over me as a youngster when a kindly soul assured me that “Death is like jumping out of an airplane with no parachute, but there’s no need to be frightened, because there’s no earth either.” Whoa. Decades later this otherworldly vision continues to bring me comfort.
What’s certain is that death really is the end of the world as we’ve known it. To live with such unblinking awareness of our death is to live with correspondingly acute awareness of the brevity of our life. Enlisting death as our trusted ally can paradoxically serve to motivate us to make the most of our limited time alive no matter how long we shall live.
Few people live their lives with conscious awareness. Many live hypnotized, going through trance-like motions of safely existing. A life lived unconsciously—or rarely leaving your comfort zone by taking risks, making mistakes and pursuing dreams—forfeits its possibilities for joy and success. And in exchange for what, meager returns of stale sameness and the desperate hope for increased security and safety that will minimize suffering and failure? To call such a reality “life” is to confuse existing with actually living.
Life often requires of us to take leaps of faith and to make the hard choices without having all the facts or guarantees that everything will work out as hoped. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Win some, lose some, live and learn from your mistakes. It’s been noted that mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.
Like most things of real value worth having, you have to make an effort to prosper in life. You must choose to take intelligent risks and avoid taking foolish ones, which of course requires discerning the difference between the two and acting from emotional intelligence and mindfulness versus knee-jerk reaction and impulsiveness.
As a species humans are innately hardwired to be risk takers, pushing ourselves and our limits ever further as we follow our passion for increasing understanding, awareness of and dominion over our world, both within and without. It is our very Nature to expand upon what we know to better ourself, to improve our life and ultimately—for anybody who’s forgotten—to fulfill our own highest potential.
The quickest way for jumpstarting this process is to vigorously shake your soul awake! Many of us have apparently gone to sleep without realizing it. And electronic technology has only exacerbated the problem. We have far too eagerly replaced solid relationships and real experiences with flimsy online imitations to the point of ridiculousness. A person would have to be living in a dream-world to think a virtual “Climb a Tree” app could ever replace the visceral thrill of actually climbing the real thing itself!
Allow me to be a little preachy: Far too much time is wasted both on- and offline that distracts us from what’s happening and what really matters, namely living in the moment versus living vicariously, virtually or mindlessly running on auto-pilot. Alternatively, we must remember what it means to be fully human—time-limited as it is—by living with emotionally intelligent mindful awareness of our imminent demise. It isn’t hard to do.
Humankind’s most sacred duty is to manifest Life, Intelligence, Truth and Love.
When all is said and done, humankind’s most sacred duty is to embody goodness benefitting all sentient beings, which at heart consists of manifesting Life, Intelligence, Truth and Love in our thoughts, words, and deeds. There is no higher aim, no vaster problem, no greater purpose, no grander glory. And, in today’s mad-dash-paced world, perhaps no greater challenge.
Mindful awareness requires vigorously disengaging from our hypnotic state, and replacing it with conscious right-thinking and action that emancipates us from the bondage of ignorance, fear and distraction. Only thusly unshackled can we ever begin exercising free will to make better choices that bring us more of what we want and less of what we don’t. Simply stated, free will choice is freedom to decide things for ourselves. And as it is free will that imbues our world with meaning, it becomes essential that we daily exercise it wisely till the day we die.
Death has been called the great equalizer. No matter how long your life, we are all just passing through. No one lives forever. Life is unapologetically short, and death the irremovable companion travelling with us throughout our lifetime. Here one second—poof!—gone the next.
While it may sound cliché, you never know when your time will be up. Death can come to anyone without warning. At best, life is uncertain and death inescapable. This is what makes death the only wise advisor we have. The evidence speaks for itself: There are no survivors on this earth!
Believe it, accept it, and make a choice and commitment to wake up and mindfully live your life before your death touches you. Make it your habit to live and love like there’s no tomorrow because—while our personal expiration date is as yet unknown and hopefully far-off—it is an inevitability for every single one of us. Knowing we’re here for only a short while gives us all the more reason to “be here now” and make each act and every moment count. For as perceptively recognized two thousand years ago by Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius, “The longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.”
The unvarnished truth of the matter is that the continuance of our extremely time-limited existence is at best fickle, unpredictable, and uncompromisingly impermanent. The whole of our future lies in uncertainty. Case in point—
There is no guarantee that you will live another minute let alone another day.
Still more reason to take greater care in preserving and appreciating an existence which will inevitably wink out at an unknown point. Simply commit to making yours a good life, one that is justly lived and well loved, by taking intelligent risks and by reaching out to others with unconditional love, compassion and understanding. Spend time with those you love, and shower them with hugs and kisses. Bestow the milk of human kindness to strangers in passing through a warm smile or friendly greeting. Never miss a chance to engage in acts of unselfish decency.
Do the things you love. When opportunity knocks and you’re hesitant, thump yourself on the head while asking aloud, “What on earth am I waiting for?” Then push and keep on pushing against any fear or resistance until you break through it.
When you have life you have everything. To live with death as your advisor is to live with great enthusiasm, and most importantly, to authentically connect with people that matter to you. Don’t miss your chance! It will feel so good when you do and feel so bad when you don’t. Circumstances may never again be as favorable or even possible, and life’s too short to live in regret mode. At the risk of belaboring my point, don’t squander your life by living timidly. While it is indeed a risky thing to live deliberately, to live indecisively is riskier still.
Make time on this remembrance holiday as well as throughout the year to show respect for your loved ones who walk no longer upon this earth by fondly recalling and praying for them. Take comfort in keeping their cherished memory alive that your love for them will live on always—love truly is eternal.
Why not also give thanks today on this Day of the Dead—and on each and every day upon waking—that you are still here amongst the Living. Say a little prayer of appreciation for all the good in your life. Give thanks for your health, and for the ongoing health, happiness and wellbeing of those you care about deeply. By holding this “attitude of gratitude” everything we have feels all the more precious in this fleeting life of ours.
“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
The choice to empower your impending mortality as a trusted advisor is your own to make. While this admittedly unconventional concept may seem counterintuitive to some and outright weird to others, making an ally of your death releases your fullest innate potential for living and loving. Eventually, when the end finally does come, may yours be a “good death”—a seamless, painless and peaceful transition free from fear.
In the interim, it will help to keep in mind that despite appearances natural death is quite harmonious. Take heart when facing your inescapable end: For though your body dies your Soul Being blessedly lives on—just differently—so it is not really the end of life at all. We subsequently demonstrate an understanding of this transformation when we begin to view death not as the end of life, but merely as the end of the body we briefly inhabited this life, similar to our casting away a well-worn suit of clothing for another.
As mystics have been teaching seekers of Truth for ages, “We have a body, we are not a body.” Far from being mere bags of bones, they knew that in splendid reality we are actually beautiful Soul Beings of Light! Our body is a physical reflection of the individuality of our soul, which gives it life. And as our soul is indestructible, there is no death for the human soul; there is only the transition from the physical manifestation of an earthy individual to the spiritual.
Death is more of a metamorphosis, like a caterpillar seeming to die only to become a butterfly. There is something more to you than just your body and mind. Simply put, within each and every one of us exists a higher consciousness that is not subject to death and dissolution. Accordingly then, if we are to prevent losing track of our precious, never-ending, other-worldly transcendental lineage, it is imperative that we wake up and remember—
We are immortal souls having a mortal human experience.
The soul, the spirit of God in man, has been completely whole and immortal from the beginning. Moreover, as unreservedly believed by billions of people around the planet, there is an abundance of evidence supporting the possibility that the soul sojourns through multiple lifetimes—perhaps hundreds or even thousands of them—over numerous incarnations on the Wheel of Life, also known as the Wheel of Becoming. The wheel of transmigration turns from spirit to matter, matter to spirit, in cosmic tune with the Infinite Order of the Universe, until at long last we find our way back from whence we came never to be born or die again.
We are all part of the Grand Design. Through the mind of the One, we enter into materiality in the form of flesh-man that carnally dies, decays, and returns to dust so we may again be one with our Maker. Beginning with fertilization in the womb, the cycle of death and rebirth advances through the sequential stages of gestation, birth, growth, maturity, old age. All in Divine Right Timing.
In its most positive progression, the evolution of the soul through re-birth changes in each transitory episode of physical life to bring us nearer and nearer to our Source. Familiarization with the mystery of spiritual evolution of the higher Self, or Spiritual Ego, is what leads us to experience a harmonious existence of peace and love which—as divinely individuated yet never separated particles of the Whole—has been ours for the having all along.
For millennia secret mystery schools have assured students that when death is viewed properly, namely from the perspective of continuous existence versus complete oblivion, our fear surrounding it subsequently disappears. As it is the human condition to be afraid of what we don’t know or understand, there is great comfort to be had from knowing that, at our most essential, we are eternal spirits incarnated in ephemeral material form. Plainly put, we are trans-dimensional beings.
As we were rebirthed into the physical realm at the time of new life’s beginning, just so, then, at the time of our departure from the physical plane are we also rebirthed back into existence on the spiritual plane from which we originated. And so it goes, the endless cycle from one birth to another death, from one life to the next, from the physical realm to the spiritual realm and back ad infinitum. Thus life goes on in stages on different planes.
In Hindu and Buddhist practice this continuous cycle of life, death and reincarnation—from which adherents seek liberation—is known as samsara: Birth, sickness, old age, death, rebirth. To hold this perspective only requires a willingness to accept that there are different realms and states of existence other than what we are experiencing at the moment.
Consequently, as there is no death for consciousness, death is not the end of us but is rather “the breath of renewal.” Upon dying we release the body and return in spirit back to the real world. Have faith that on the day you free your luminous body by shedding your physical body to “cross over to the other side” back into Infinity you will be gloriously free from all the restrictions you have experienced in life. Understanding the truth about death and the changes that follow presents us with a more detailed road map of coming changes that naturally counters our fears of dying, thereby allowing us to gain greater acceptance and a sense of control about what really happens when we leave our body.
The end of death is simply the beginning of something else: “Death is but the natural process whereby all material forms are thrown into the crucible for reproduction in fresh diversity.” Personally speaking, I am expecting death to feel comparably similar to the sensation experienced upon kicking off a pair of too-tight shoes and stepping barefoot on to a lush green carpet of new spring grass—one of boundless relief, breathtaking delight and utterly unconstricted freedom.
Similarly, thousands of hospital patients who've had a “near death experience” describe never feeling more alive than upon hearing themselves being pronounced “dead” by a doctor or nurse as their disembodied consciousness “floated” above their lifeless body observing, and later accurately reporting, everything that was happening around them at the time. Many stated that the magnitude of love, joy, security and indescribable bliss they experienced while dead left them reveling in the lightness of being and newfound out-of-body freedom, and consequently, somewhat reluctant to return to their body having experienced death as a transition into a more—not less—desirable realm of existence. Afterwards, many commonly claimed to have utterly lost their fear of death having personally validated the continuity of existence beyond the grave.
Essentially, the spirit of you is—you.
Comparable anecdotal evidence reported from countless near death experiences strongly suggests that the “I” of who we are leaves the body when we die to rejoin our spirit. Thus we are one self living multiple lives. Without spirit we would be nothing. We need only recognize our spiritual power to activate it and use its possibilities. Therefore let us be of good cheer! For in as much as we now wondrously realize that our soul is eternal we can begin to readjust our perspective and completely transform our views of our own life and death, and of the lives and deaths of others.
Reincarnation is the idea of personal continuity from life to life in ever changing vehicles. The self appears in many forms yet its essential nature remains continuous throughout all alterations of time and space. Life after death and reincarnation are simply beliefs that the soul is eternal, appearing again at intervals in other physical bodies so that it can continue as an instrument of its own development. Energy never dies, it only changes form. Comprehending the wondrous reality of an everlasting spiritual self buoys your courage and assists in fundamentally reprogramming your thinking so that you no longer quake when you gaze deep and unblinkingly into the “complete nothingness” of the Great Abyss and it gazes right back at you.
It requires only our willingness to let go of and replace our “small picture” limited human expectations with “big picture” unlimited divinely-ordained expectations. It further requires that each of us till the psychic soil between our ears so that the germ cell of this profound “mind shift” can take sprout. In other words, if we are to bring about a deeper awareness in our moment-to-moment earthly experience, we must reintegrate the root of our immortal soul consciousness with the scion of our mortal human consciousness. We are made whole again by no longer seeking direction merely from our limited human senses, but also now from within, thereby permitting us to link up with a field of intelligent energy and unlimited cosmic guidance from on high.
For invariably, it is through communion with our subconscious soul that we are best lead to the taking of right action and a better way of living. Through the subsequent exercise of free will choice to conduct our life in this manner, we learn to practice and become adept at sowing and germinating mindful seeds of right-thinking and acting from an inner soul awareness that is in perfect co-creative alignment with divine laws and principles. As everything we think has a vibration, when we think with our highest mental vibration we raise the vibration of the thought-seeds we plant.
The mysterious power of thought enables it to produce external, perceptible, and observable phenomenological results. The ancients called this divine power latent in the will of every man kriyasakti, and believed that any idea will manifest itself externally if one’s attention and will are deeply concentrated upon it; simply put, that intense volition will be faithfully followed by the desired result. As such, creation is the direct result of will acting on phenomenal matter, the calling forth of the “holy seed” out of the primordial divine Light. Behold the mighty power of thought!
Every tree is known by its own fruit. Thus it is the quality and content of our thought-seeds and subsequent actions in life which determine whether we taste the sweet vibratory fruits of positive expectation and resultant joyfulness or the bitter vibratory fruits of negative expectation and resultant misery. Thought which is in harmony with the Universal Mind will bring about corresponding conditions, whereas thought which is destructive will likewise produce corresponding conditions. We cannot plant one kind of thought and reap the fruit of another. And as mental creation brings about practically everything in our lives, pleasant and unpleasant alike, it is impossible to overstate the importance of clear and balanced thinking that naturally aligns with the better angels of our nature.
Thought is the universal language, and is the creative atmosphere underlying the universal principle of Cause and Effect in our lives. Most importantly, thought is the connecting link between the Infinite and the finite; it is by thinking and acting from our innate spiritual awareness that we trigger the unfolding of our own higher consciousness and learning the way of living harmoniously with our eyes and hearts open with no fear.
Harmony in the world within means the ability to control our thoughts, and to determine for ourselves how any experience is to affect us. For every right-thinking person, harmony in the world within is the foundation of health, and is essential to all greatness, power, achievement and success. Self-improvement and personal development only occur as an improvement of the quality of individual thought and the ideals, actions and conditions that arise as a consequence. By using that power both constructively and creatively, we tap into the great Cosmic Intelligence to best fulfill our ambitions and aspirations. Thus it becomes imperative that each of us studies and understands the creative processes of thought and its righteous application in how we think and live our lives, as human thought is the spiritual power of the Universal operating through its creature man.
In like manner, perception of the Universal within, along with its ideal visualization and execution, develops best in silence. Spending quiet time beyond the noise and endless distractions of modern life restores our nervous system, re-energizes us, and conditions our mind to be more adaptive and responsive to our environment. It also preserves our sanity. Making ourselves unavailable every now and then for short periods of time by “unplugging” from everything stills our mind and is essential for mental health and spiritual wellbeing.
By cultivating time spent stilling our mind in sustained silence and productive solitude that harmonizes the individual with the Universal—through silent meditation, prayer, and quiet immersion in the fresh air of nature—we allow for Universal Mind to reach down into human mind and endow it with new, wonderful and marvelous sacred qualities. “Through prayer we speak to God; in meditation God speaks to us from within.” When life gets challenging, make time and space to quietly connect with your Higher Self for help and guidance, as doing so is your birthright.
It is an unfortunate reality that we have forgotten who we are, and we have forgotten what we came here for. To awaken from our “spiritual amnesia” requires us to remember that who we really are is a spiritual consciousness beyond the human level. And what we really came here for is to learn the way of love and thereby assist one another in spiritual development. Thus all relationships have the opportunity to become a purposeful experience. The main thing is to work on yourself and to understand yourself.
Indeed, the ultimate purpose of every relationship is spiritual development. This includes twin souls, soul groups, and kindred souls, which gather together forming pairs and large groups as mates, family members, close friends and members of a community in order to mutually assist one another. These harmonious souls help balance and provide one another with companionship and an ongoing learning process, both positive and negative, so as to develop greater awareness, as it is by increasing our self-awareness that we purify our character and discover our connectedness to one another.
Thus it is by living life in conscious awareness of our glorious, perfect, and limitless divine origin that we unify and harmonize our ego-consciousness with our soul's super-consciousness. And in so doing, we are best able to fulfill our soul's spiritual agenda, which is to experience, learn, evolve and improve through a curriculum of personal growth and development. In like manner, as was noted last century by world renowned mystic and “sleeping prophet” Edgar Cayce, “For when the purposes of an entity [person] are the more in accord with that for which the entity entered [this life], then the soul-entity may take hold upon that which may bring to its remembrance what it was, where, when, and how.”
Correspondingly, only when we have learned to surrender and willingly realign our present ego-driven self-serving transitory desires with our immortal soul’s in-service-to-all eternal desires does it becomes possible for us to discover our true purpose and greatest happiness in life. Moreover and beneficial to all: We finally grasp it is by working for the good of others that we may best find our own as well, and by learning to lose ourself in others that we ultimately find our true Divine self. We come to realize that it is by living deeply and evolving spiritually that we develop the faculty of recovering from our spiritual amnesia.
Life is a self-mastery experience. And finding ourselves is an essential part of that experience. By putting proper emphasis in the proper places—through unity consciousness and the self-mastery journey to rediscovering yourself—we gain right understanding and opportunities that assist us in evolving to be in service mode and to living our lives with greater compassion, love and gratitude. And it all begins with loving and accepting ourselves and everyone else unconditionally. In the end, what we call life is about gaining as much knowledge and having as many experiences as possible so as to remember and reconnect with the Divine birthright of our multidimensional mind/self.
The time has come to wake up and stop sleepwalking through life! On this earthly plane, it is a strange law of Nature that the higher Spiritual Ego is in bondage to the lower human ego. We must therefore make every effort to shake off our spiritual shackles by mindfully practicing consecrated thought, deed, prayer, and meditation so as to fully regain our Soul Awareness. The whole purpose and meaning of life is for us to learn, evolve and continue to grow onward and upward, incorporating our mind with our spirit and the one complete Whole, all the while remaining conscious of our own separate individuality.
Accordingly, once you recover your soul memory, to say “all things are possible for you” is by its Divine nature not an overstatement. We must therefore work hard to retrieve it, and give thanks and praise to our Maker and Giver of life for this bountiful blessing upon its recovery. The importance of reconnecting to our soul memory cannot be overstated, as it is only through our personification of this Divine awareness that we come to learn what it is to live authentically in a state of grace with dignity and direction.
The natural laws under which we live are solely designed for our advantage. All conditions and experiences that come to us do so for our benefit. Difficulties and obstacles are necessary to develop wisdom and spiritual growth through an exchange of the old for new. Difficulties and obstacles will continue to come to us through the Law of Attraction until we advance in understanding and absorb their wisdom.
When we make it our conscious habit to adjust our thought processes to cooperate with natural laws it serves both our permanent immortal and impermanent mortal well-being, as happiness is best obtained through a conscious cooperation with natural laws. In the glorious scheme of life, it is by cooperating with the continuous forward movement of the Great Whole that we best fulfill our soul's purpose. And most wonderful of all, it is upon realizing our rightful destiny that we come to know and rejoice in the Oneness of All in the power and the peace of the One Infinite Creator.
For in the process, we learn it is by letting go of our fear of dying that we correspondingly let go of our fear of living. We need simply release all worry, anxiety, depression—and most importantly—our judgments, which are the ultimate love blockers invariably leading to pain and separation. Once having fully awakened to our true God-Given eternal nature, we evolve to possess and personify a greatly diminished fear-based consciousness and greatly enhanced happiness-based consciousness.
We delight in discovering that by living each day with genuine humbleness, and by being less concerned with our own needs than the needs of others, a deeper, fuller, and clearer meaning to our life develops, the better to realize our most cherished hopes and dreams. We learn to nurture and manifest that which is truly spiritual—by being kind, caring, harmless, and giving to all. Let yours be a spirit made holy by operating from a heart of compassion. Your reward will be the exhilaration of knowing what it is to walk with a song in your heart and a spring in your step whatever the distance your path to Reality takes you through the valley of the shadow of death.
Fear not the Reaper—really it's okay, breathe—for existence is continuous.
Death is a part of life. And fear is the strongest emotion a human experiences. Considering that the fear of death—and the corresponding need to suppress that fear—is much of what drives human behavior, learning to let go of that fear is a very big deal. It is no exaggeration to say that letting go of our fear of death is nothing short of “life-changing,” as our mindset about death determines whether we are pro-actively “living at cause” verses re-actively “living at effect.” In short, either we act from balanced and conscious free will choice or we react from imbalanced and unconscious inferior thought-programs.
Living at cause is freedom in action, whereas living at effect is the mental equivalent of spending life in bondage wearing chains of our own making. In actuality, it is the mindset we each hold which determines our personal perception of people, events and circumstances, and not the people, events and circumstances themselves. Understanding this reality gives us still further reason to throw off the fear of death shackles that bind and prevent us from living and loving without inner reservations and nagging uncertainties.
The river of life never stops flowing. While everyone fears death, this fear is unfounded, as life is a continual experience. In actuality, neither fear nor death is real. Think of death as warmly returning to the home you belong to. Once you come to realize yourself to be the Light Bodied Immortal Soul you really are, all you have to lose is your worry and your terrible fear of the Great Unknown.
For most people, actively contemplating our eventual demise—rather than unwisely suppressing the very thought of it through pursuits of pleasure, mindless distractions or worldly success—can make death less frightening. Embracing death reminds us that everything is transitory, a realization which can serve to make each day of life more meaningful. “Death destroys a man,” E. M. Forster wrote, but “the idea of Death saves him.”
It is thought that by actively contemplating our eventual demise we make death real and present which, in turn, leads to habituation that transcends our fright of it. It is said that when we deprive death of its strangeness, we deprive death of its greatest advantage over us: We get used to it.
While none of us really knows how many days we have left, or what those days will bring, it becomes oddly comforting—and deeply empowering—to look our mortality in the eye. For within its murky gaze bides “the inevitable hour” that awaits each and every one of us at the end of all earthly glory. Being reminded of our unavoidable date with death actually makes us more likely to make better decisions about how we live our life. If we are to live as authentic human beings it becomes essential to regularly project our life onto the horizon of our death, as consciousness of our mortality helps to shape and fashion our sense of self and view of this world which in turn influence the choices we make while living.
Hence the vital importance of frequently remembering, personalizing, and contemplating our ever approaching departure, as nothing lasts forever, and we are in fact going to die someday. Thinking of death regularly can add a sense of urgency to our process. It is therefore good to think about your death, to look to the end, as it makes you get on with things while you still can that might otherwise hold you back.
The sooner your death anxiety and feelings of dread over ceasing to “be” loses its hold upon you and how you live your life, the sooner you will live with greater feeling, zest, lightness and freedom. You will no longer be controlled by what you are afraid of but by your true self—the real you—and by what is right. Possessing this deeper awareness of death changes the way we live, and is what begets real life by helping to keep everything we experience in perspective. As timelessly observed over 2000 years ago by Roman philosopher Seneca, “Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die.”
It is for similar reasons that mystics and ancient spiritual teachings teach that by living with death as our advisor we who come to accept death fearlessly come to accept life fearlessly, having realized that our true consciousness—what we really are—doesn't end with death. On the contrary, we come to understand that the true nature of death and reincarnation is remarkably akin to stepping through a dimensional portal into another plane of existence of Light and Love that awaits, beautiful beyond description.
The immortal soul of each individual passes through many lifetimes, and each death is simply a doorway into another existence, within a new material body. Life after life after life the Spirit guides the soul to higher levels of Awareness and Being, to greater self-fulfillment, until the soul no longer needs the mortal body as a vehicle. Upon the soul’s complete merger with Spirit the soul blissfully fulfills its eternal desire to reunite and experience seamless Oneness again with Spirit.
Death is only an illusion—life never ceases.
It is impossible to overemphasize: Life survives death. Death is but a transition and is not to be feared, as the essence of you comes back. The body wears out, yet the soul does not; the wonderful truth of it all is that there is no such thing as death—for our true nature is spirit, not body—thus are we eternal. Birth and death are but cycles of one continuous life, so why worry about it? Especially as what actually awaits us on the other side when we die is for our Spirit Self to bathe in the indescribable Light and Oneness of the Universal Spirit!
In the meantime, the best way to live this mystical life of ours—fleeting as it may be—is to simply identify with the inner bonding force of love, which in actuality, is the purpose of life. Then boldly let your “little light shine” as you go about your everyday affairs. Be quick to lend words of encouragement or a helping hand to others whenever needed.
And don’t be afraid of being powerful. Nurture and amplify your spiritual connection to Source for your soul's better development so as to fully realize what you came here this lifetime to accomplish, as time is growing short. All the more reason while you still walk upon this earth to break free from the hypnotic lull of only concerning yourself with the external aspects of life, such as wanting to live above others and accumulating money or fame out of vanity and ambition.
Beware the “disease of more” which keeps you chained to a hedonic treadmill constantly chasing pleasure, fame, and fortune to your detriment. The same holds true for pursuing domination, greed, and materialism, especially when it negatively impacts the betterment of your fellow man and creatures that share the planet—don’t do it, as they all repel the divine nature in you. Steer clear of these deceptive siren songs, as their seductive allure is no more than “fool’s gold” and completely worthless in life’s Big Picture. Fueled by insatiable consumption and compulsion, pursuit of these perishable “riches” only squanders your precious time and perverts your true purpose in life.
Rather, let your driving force come from the wellspring of love and service to the greater collective by making your life a mirror of the spirit of universal love. Concern yourself with acquiring the inner treasures of worthwhile knowledge, qualities of tolerance, the light of humility and the blessings of understanding which polish your spirit. Develop your powers of perception, wisdom, intuition, and soundness of judgment which cultivate your character.
It is by learning to channel virtue, compassion and unconditional love that we connect with the Holy Spirit and divine inspiration within. For those who seek to know the very depths of God, consciously cherish and appreciate every moment, every experience, and everyone you meet along the way in service to all, in service of the One. Your life will feel gentler, sweeter, and happier when you do. I venture to say these are the very reasons you are incarnated here now—at this unbelievably exciting, pivotal time of planet-wide consciousness awakening!
No matter what comes your way: Make it your habit to love and forgive everyone unconditionally—especially yourself. Loving and forgiving comes from self-loving and self-forgiving—you can’t do what’s right for others if you can’t do what’s right for yourself. The more we learn to love and forgive ourselves, the greater grows our capacity to love and forgive others, as both love and forgiveness multiply themselves. Push through any stubborn resistance you encounter within to granting the balm of self-forgiveness or forgiveness of others, for in full forgiveness lies the stoppage of the wheel of karma and the renewal of opportunities to ascend in consciousness.
Accordingly then, make every effort to overrule any stubborn tendencies that hold you back by denying forgiveness or rejecting offers of restitution from those whom you have deliberately shunned out of hate, hurt, blame, judgment or misunderstanding. Likewise, take responsibility and make amends for your own past misdeeds with those you’ve hurt. Let it all go—nothing good can ever come from indulging in sad things and destructive thoughts. And for good measure, refuse wrong-headed urges to indulge in disturbing thoughts or speech, as getting upset is not constructive and anxiety will be of no use to you.
It is far better that we should undo and completely release all animosities and antipathies, and reconcile with our trespassers and adversaries so as to alleviate suffering and remove the inner heavy burdens of past wrong-doings. We must learn how to settle disputes and mend fences for everyone’s benefit. In this life the effort of righting wrongs is everyone’s task. Be quick to offer others a sincere apology when it’s in order and equally quick to accept apologies offered by others. The practice of compassionate forgiveness is an undertaking that demonstrates right understanding for our fellow man and respect for Divine mercy—no matter what, we must never forget every person is a seed of Divinity.
And just so there’s no confusion:
Nothing is more worthwhile in your efforts to eradicate personal karma
than is loving and forgiving yourself and loving and forgiving others.
Moreover, while forgiveness is ultimately an inside job, it nevertheless benefits everyone it touches with immeasurable grace when we reconcile with those who have injured our person. You express as mercy personified when you make it your habit to forgive quickly and easily. Eventually, fully formed adults must learn to lovingly forgive and forget with those around us or inevitably we shall suffer being isolated and otherwise left out in the cold alone.
In order to evolve and be of service to others, we must learn to practice compassion, love, gratitude and forgiveness for ourselves above all else. Otherwise we will be of no help to ourselves let alone to anybody else. When all is said and done, we can only treat others as well as we practice treating ourselves, so the kinder we treat ourselves the kinder we treat those around us. Exercising the healing power of compassionate self-forgiveness frees us from the judgments we place on ourselves, thereby allowing us to connect more deeply with ourselves and everyone else. Thus you can rightly think of applying gentle self-compassion as practicing healthy selfishness for the greater good!
The time will never be more favorable than the present for improving and expanding yourself—for your own good and the betterment of the collective whole—by loving yourself and working on your thoughts, actions, ideas, and goals so as to create a better tomorrow for all. Proceed in this fashion and the rest will take care of itself. And for anyone wishing to be a positive change agent in the world, it’s as easy as rolling off a log: Simply take every opportunity that comes your way to be more inclusive, less damaging, and more compassionate with everyone you meet. Even if you do nothing else, make every effort to connect with others in loving kindness, especially when they aren’t making it easy. Their spirit—and your own—will thank you.
Well, what are you waiting for? It's later than you think. Refuse to allow the mystery of the unknown and the destructive vibration of worry to continue attacking and suffocating your soul. To favorably advance your personal emancipation from the enemies of fear and dread, boldly make up your mind to use your impending demise as a catalyst to transform your life and your concepts of death, starting today. “If not now, when?”
There is no future. The future is only a way of talking. As the finish line of your life draws ever closer, resolve to make the most out of the path yet to be traveled, beginning by not taking for granted the time you have left until the close of physical life. And what better way to live in the moment with conscious awareness of your impermanence than by honoring and fondly remembering departed family and friends, all the while as you joyously celebrate another day of life amongst the living.
To be sure, nothing could be godlier—or more human.
Michael Ra Bouchard, Ph.D.
* Dedicated to Paul R. Allen. Rest in Peace Dear Friend. *
Michael Ra Bouchard, M.A., Ph.D is a professional mental health counselor specializing in sex therapy and marriage counseling for all sex, relationship and intimacy concerns. You may reach him at email@example.com or 808. 965. 8800
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