In honor of Día de Los Muertos, it seems pertinent to talk about death. After all, death is a part of life. This is true no matter how much we may not want to accept it. In times past, we had an easier time accepting it, because it was a part of everyday life. In today’s age, death has become sequestered away. It has become taboo and so has talking about it, which is a tragedy because death is something that each and every one of us will face. One day, as people, we are going to have to accept that you do not have to dread death in order to value life.
We have to take talking about death out of the box of taboo. The taboo around talking about death, which is especially prevalent in the Western Cultures of the world, harms people greatly. Society has created all kinds of cultural adaptations that are designed to keep people from being conscious of their mortality. The discourse around death reflects the attitude that death is bad and wrong and serves to perpetuate the idea that it is the worst thing that can happen and is therefore something to dread. As a result, many people are in a state of ‘death denial’. And this death denial contributes to a greater sense of wrongness, shock and pain when death suddenly does inevitably enter one’s life experience. In the modern era, due to our attitudes towards death, we have a very dysfunctional and ever worsening relationship with death, which is a natural part of life.
Part of this taboo surrounding death puts spiritual teachers, such as myself, in a rather difficult position. The taboo surrounding death suggests that the collective belief is that death is in and of itself bad and wrong and so is talking about it. If death is bad and wrong, that means that we are all inevitably headed towards a bad and wrong fate in the future. And this increases our fear of death as well as our fear of the future. It creates resistance. This extreme resistance to death can make the transition that is the process of death, one of deep suffering. It can also make the pain we experience when we lose someone to death, much more painful. It is rather ironic that the taboo around death is thought to benefit people, but it actually serves to make the experience of death more painful for people.
You’ll notice that our judgement of badness and wrongness is often less about death in and of itself, than it is about the circumstances of a death. For example, if a very old person dies, we tend to think that death is ok. We say things like “it was time.” But if a person who is not old dies, we think it is not supposed to happen and is therefore wrong. If a person dies saving another person’s life or serving their country in a war, that death is seen as honorable and therefore not wrong. If someone is murdered, that death is seen as bad and wrong. But if a soldier kills an enemy, that murder is seen as good. If someone murders other people, that person’s death is often seen as a good thing. After all, many people still celebrate the death penalty and many more of us still celebrate when the bad guy dies in a movie. The Samurai practiced seppuku. In this practice, it was considered honorable to commit suicide as opposed to falling into the hands of the enemy. Most of the Western World today views suicide as morally bad and wrong. But none the less, a debate currently rages on regarding physician assisted suicide, which is legal in certain countries. Even the debate around abortion is a debate around death. What all this means is that even today, given the right circumstance, many people believe that death is in fact good.
What I am doing by showcasing this confusion and mass mixed message we keep giving and getting about death, is trying to help you become conscious of humanity’s complicated attitude towards death, especially based on circumstances. It is important to notice your own relationship to the circumstances of death and how they influence your perspective of rightness, goodness, wrongness and badness relative to death itself.
The taboo around death also means that those of us who see the danger in death remaining taboo (and who are thus brave enough to talk about death), end up being demonized and expected to send some pretty mixed messages to the public. For example, we are told that it is ok to help someone who is dying of a terminal illness by explaining to them that they will experience it as relief, that it is ok to let go and that there is nothing to be afraid of. We are told that it is ok to tell someone who has lost a loved one that their loved one is at peace and is not suffering and that their loved one is not ‘gone’ in the spiritual sense. Thus, making death ok.
However, when we talk publicly about death, if we talk in any other way than to give the impression that we see death in and of itself as bad and wrong, period the end, we are at risk of being accused of being pro-death and thus, even worse, pro suicide. This could not be further from the truth. Take me for example, I do not glorify death. Instead, like every spiritual teacher who has come before me, I see the universal value inherent in life. I also see the universal value inherent in death. But this truth doesn’t matter because people have decided that death has no value and is bad and wrong. And that anyone who says otherwise, is a threat. I find this heart breaking because this way of thinking will harm them immensely when the time comes that death enters their own life experience. For this reason, I think it is important to ask yourself: What do you think about death? Is death bad and wrong? Should talking about death be taboo? What is the benefit and what is the harm inherent in death being taboo?
On top of this, you have the difficulty of talking to people about the reality of why death happens when it does; and trying to convey that reality in a way that does not make people feel guilty or at fault for a death happening.
So, now that I’ve said all that, let’s have a real conversation about death. The first thing that is important to know is that death is experienced so differently from one dimension to the next. For example, from many of the higher dimensions, there is no such thing as death. There is no ended-ness. There is only recycling of consciousness and energy. There is also a much different perception of time. One lifetime occurs like a blink of an eye. One lifetime is only a very small snap shot of existence. Like walking into and out of a movie theatre. Of course, we all know that the experience of death in the physical, facing death ourselves or having someone we love die, is quite different than that. Most people absolutely do experience a life as all there is, and as lasting a long period of time. We experience death as an end and as a deep loss.
Death is very similar to slipping into a dream. So is coming into life. You will close your perceptual awareness to one reality and open it to the next. I want you to recall that in a dream, you’re so attached to what is occurring, as if it is the only reality. But then you wake up and it suddenly isn’t all of who you are and isn’t as important because the truth of you is so much different, bigger and more. Death, first and foremost is a transitioning. It is a drastic change in perspective.
When you die, the stream of consciousness that is feeding and continually creating your thought form (the idea of you that exists separate from your physical embodiment) as well as your physical body, will withdraw. First from the physical form. When it does this, the body (no longer fed by a stream of consciousness) will begin to dissipate. It will de-manifest. We experience this on the physical plane as decomposition. It will also withdraw from the thought form which is your identity. And that too, will dissipate. It will withdraw all the way back to collective consciousness. It essentially goes through a process of dis-identification. You become part of “oneness” again. You lose a sense of separateness. This is experienced, in terms of felt perception, as returning back to love.
This process of dissipation of a thought form, just like the dissipation of the body, is not immediate. Which is why the ‘ghost’ of someone sometimes still has enough energy in it to influence things in the physical dimension. We call this a haunting. This is especially true if the thought form is “charged” with energy due to a sudden death or unfinished business with someone in the physical plane. Most of the entities that we call ghosts are these dissipating thought forms. They are not being fed by a stream of consciousness, so they must draw energy to maintain themselves from somewhere else, such as other people’s focus on them or electric currents or energy generating minerals etc.
The first form of manifestation into the physical dimension is light. For this reason, when beings de-manifest from the physical dimension and reverse this process of manifestation, they will experience this “light” in death. When a being goes towards and into the light, they are reversing the process of manifestation.
The process of re-incarnation for most beings is a mix of determinism and free will. It is not very different than your choices in your waking life. You are in essence “choosing” things in life, but there are so many unconscious factors that determine the choices you make. And so, they aren’t really conscious choices. On top of this, the law of mirroring (often called the law of attraction) applies to the process of re-incarnation. For example, you may subconsciously be acting with only yourself in mind. And this may cause you to choose a certain life that you believe will benefit you on a conscious level, while also deterministically lining up with a life where the environment is ‘every man for himself’. This is one reason why the process of awakening, awareness and becoming conscious in your life is important as it applies to your successive incarnations. People looking to master enlightenment step out of determinism and into a position of free will and conscious choice relative to their incarnations. Soon, even incarnating at all into a separate identity within the collective consciousness that we call “God or Source” is in and of itself, a choice.
For death to happen, it must actually be a choice. In fact, no matter how badly the body is damaged, the consciousness (nonphysical perspective) must still choose to withdraw from the physical. It often does. But sometimes, this is why ‘miracles’ relative to near death experiences happen. And it is also often the spiritual reason why people slip into comas instead of die. Essentially, their temporal and non-temporal aspects do not yet agree upon death or coming back into life.
Do not worry for someone who has died. They are not suffering. They experience themselves as being closer to you than they were in their separate physical forms. All the concern should be for those left behind… Those who in their separate physical forms, are feeling separate from the one they love. Those who are experiencing loss and grief.
To understand death, you must above all understand that death is the ultimate change. Death is not ended-ness. Death is drastic change. It occurs when no further expansion can take place without changing perspectives and forms. There are many variables that add up to making it so that the only way further expansion can happen is through death. But the sad reality is that people have a huge power relative to making that be the case or not.
As it applies to humans, both individuals and social systems (such as family, culture and society), create stuck-ness that can lead to death. For example, so many people tend to cope with what is and encourage others to cope with what is instead of to change what is. The problem is that one of the main purposes of life is expansion. It is an exercise in collective consciousness (what many call Source or God) knowing itself. If this expansion does not occur within an individual and within a system because the pressures to change are met with adaptive coping mechanisms, the people’s thoughts, words and actions will continue to keep things that are not supposed to be as is, as is. And that stuck-ness invites death. The person who dies, then expands through shifting perspectives and forms. And that person’s death serves as pressure put on the other people in the social system to start expanding again by making changes to their life.
For example, imagine a family that is dysfunctional. That dysfunction prevents all members from lining up with what is truly highest and best for them. For example, say a mother continues to be codependent to a dictatorial father. He is enabled in his dysfunction, which is preventing his expansion. She thwarts her own progression by virtue of being too afraid to lose the marriage. They both distract themselves from this pain by hyper-identifying with their son and by forcing him to live the life that they want for him. By doing so they train him to prevent his own life purpose and cope with the pain of doing so. If this state of being (which goes against the progression of all members of the family) is maintained, this son could become a match to death. The Universe is not against him or the family when this death occurs. Instead, death became the only open door for him to experience the expansion that the variables of his life were opposing. And his parents no longer have him to focus on, so as to avoid their own dysfunction. His tragic death calls them to question everything about their lives. The universal hope is that this questioning will lead to them getting back on track with their own personal expansion. Death of any perspective is not beneficial to the universe when expansion is still being served through that perspective.
And the sad truth, especially when it comes to suicide, is that so many people believe themselves to be stuck and believe that no improvement or progression or expansion can take place in their life, when the reality is quite the opposite. They are simply suffering from the severe limitations of their individual perspective.
To generalize, the universe itself does not want beings to die. There is too much value in them being alive. If there wasn’t, no being would come into existence with their instincts and biology wired for survival. It is in the best interests of the universe at large for a being to stay in their current form, as long as expansion and enhancement is actually occurring through that perspective… As long as the reason for life to exist in the first place is being actualized through that perspective. The value in death is really all about the value of drastic change, especially in terms of a drastic change of perspective. And the truth, whether you are aware of it or not, is that it is in your hands to continue to create that expansion forward.
Having said all of this, when death happens around you, it is absolutely a calling to re-examine your life. It is a calling of your life and of life itself into question. And you would be very wise to let it be that and to get on board with this powerful objective process of re-evaluating everything.
One of the most life enriching things that you can do is to live with your mortality in mind. What so many people who have had a near death experience or who have overcome suicidality or who have grappled with a terminal illness will tell you is that the facing of death brings an invaluable gift for life. What they will tell you is that people should face death (this essential feature of life) in order to live a more rich, meaningful and authentic life. It is all too easy to get sucked into the drama of temporal day-to-day life. It is all too easy to behave as if life will last forever. It is all too easy to lose track of what really matters in the grand scheme of things. Facing death and living with the awareness that you will die one day, can break you free from the way that you have been sucked into the small picture of your temporal life. It has the power to re-connect you with the bigger picture of your life here on earth.
Facing death will cause you to ask questions like: How will I feel about this thing that I am doing after I am dead? How will I feel about having spent my time on earth in this way after I am dead? When I am dead, will this thing matter? Am I really living? What does it mean to really, truly live? Will I choose from today on to really truly live? Will I choose to live like every moment of my life matters? What does it mean to make the most of my time here on earth? Am I making the most of my time here on earth? What would I do differently so as to make the most of my time here on earth? If I accepted that I am going to die one day, and so the goal of life cannot simply be to stay safe, so as to survive, what might I be brave enough to do differently? Contrary to popular opinion, thinking about life within the context of death will cause you to make drastically different decisions and to live both fully and bravely.
We must know that even if, at a more objective level of reality, death is just a change in perspective, it is quite a different experience here in our temporal forms. We should not be invalidating our physical life experience and perceptions with higher dimensional awareness, like so many people seem to do. One does not negate the other. This means we need to hold BOTH the reality of loss and of no loss. Death and no death. Don’t expect or allow your awareness of the bigger picture of death to negate the physical life experience of death. Let that awareness ‘caretake’ your pain, not invalidate it. And see death for what it is… the ultimate change. It is my deepest hope that this awareness will help you to live the fullest, most meaningful and most joyful life possible.