There is no death. The Son of God is free.
How could there be death to that which is eternal? How could Love create anything other than what is like Itself? In a vast universe of potentialities and possibilities, these two questions lead us to pause the egoic cycle of death, and anything like it, pointing us towards the Truth; the Truth that the essence, and makeup, of Who and What we are is that which is eternal and the mirror of Love incarnate.
Death, as the Course discusses in Lesson 163, is any shade of darkness: “sadness, fear, anxiety or doubt, as anger, faithlessness and lack of trust; concern for bodies, envy, and all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you” (ACIM Lesson 163 1:2). It is not merely regarding someone who has “gone to heaven,” but it is the underlying root of all shades of fear and darkness. In an ever-changing world, the mind is aware that at any moment there is a potential for loss.
Most of us can wrap our heads around the fact that since we were born, we have been in a process towards death, from cellularly to the entire shell of the physical body. We can even understand, through basic science, how each moment our cells our dying and replenishing themselves. It happens so quickly and on such a microscopic level that it is easy for the mind to not get attached to it. However, when we get to the end of a job, a way of knowing ourselves, a relationship, the end of a season, or a specific role we have in someone’s life, this often does feel like a physical death of sorts, and it is in some ways.
The Buddhist philosophy explains that our cause of suffering can be boiled down to craving and aversion. We either hold on too tight or we resist. Our human eyes look upon a world where life can change in an instant, thus we fall trap to the cycle of suffering by either holding on too tight to life or we resist the end of it. If we are eternal beings, how can there truly be death of anything? If we take this question to heart, we can start to regard what we think as “death,” as really an opportunity to awaken to what is Real.
Alan Watts, British philosopher, once said, “Death is the source of life.” We die to ourselves to see that there is no death. All the experiences of death that we witness give us the beauty of realizing what it is really Real and what really matters. In this, we are truly free; free of our place in the world, free of our perceptions, free of our roles and masks, free of outcomes, and free of the limitations of this world. Each time we can greet death from an eternal knowing, we prepare ourselves for the death of the body and to transition from this world in a much higher, more free state.
Paula D’Arcy, writer and retreat leader, is woman who has experienced the emptiness of death while also countering the joys of birth. She was three months pregnant when she was in a serious car accident with a drunk driver that left both her husband and, then, 18 month old, Sarah, dead. She truly battled with thoughts of despair while also trying to be a vessel for this incoming child. In her book, Gift of the Red Bird, Paula describes how in the moments before the birth of her child, Beth, she struggled with her thoughts on God. She mentions that she clearly heard the Voice of God asking her to desire God above all else. At this point, she realized how closely she was holding onto her unborn child and how much she was trying to control everything in hopes to no longer feel pain.
“Without trying I am suddenly seeing my life through a different set of eyes. I see clearly that my daughter, Sarah, has been my god. Yes, I loved her, as a mother should. But I also clung to her. I thought I owned her. I made her my purpose for living. She was not a soul with whose care I had been entrusted. She was someone I believed to be mine” (D’Arcy 39).
In her divine discovery, she began to feel free, more importantly her body began to release tension so that she could give birth. Shortly after, Paula went into the delivery room where she gave birth to Beth and while holding her in her arms she thought,
“She is amazing, but the real birth today was my own. As I look at her I see that she is a gift. She is mine to hold, but not to possess. It makes all the difference. You treat a gift differently than you do a possession” (D’Arcy 41).
Paula’s inspiring journey of life and death, give us the unique opportunity see that we truly possess nothing, not even our own kin. It takes courage to release others and ourselves. We are merely gifted with moments, but how do we spend those moments? Can we see God and the Eternal Truth in each moment, even what we think of as death? Can we see the perfection in passing and the opportunity to start anew?
It is important to say that there is a time to process and honor the feelings that arise around death. It is a very natural and unique process. It is also important to be mindful of the process of others, not just during a physical death, but also with the death of what one used to be. Everyone in life, on a spiritual journey or not, shift and change. Sometimes relationships change, jobs, roles, etc. Although you may be the one changing, and that in and of itself is important, understand that others have also depended on you to hold a certain space in their lives. You may be celebrating your newness while others may be nourishing their feelings of sadness because you have changed. This often makes some feel guilty or like they should hold themselves back. I encourage you to continue you walk forward. You will see that there is joy in your awakening for everyone and how your courageous steps ignite the journeys of all. By releasing who you thought you were, we all LIVE much more fully.
“There is no death, for death is not Your Will. And we abide where You have placed us, in this life we share with You and with all living things, to be like You and part of You forever” (ACIM Lesson 163 9:5-6).
Being present to the passing of each moment, without attachment or craving, is the ultimate spiritual practice. If you really want to know how you feel about death, notice the next time you nearly miss getting in a car accident or something of the like. What were your thoughts in that moment? How did your body feel? Were you able to feel the freedom as the Daughter or Son of God? Were you able to be okay in that moment knowing that whatever happened, what is Real about you remains eternal?
In closing, I leave you with a short dialogue given by Alan Watts entitled, “What if when we die we wake up?” We recognize in today’s lesson that in focusing on what is Real, we have the freedom to explore this world in a whole new way. We have the freedom to be playful Children of God, giving others the permission to do the same. Namaste.
D’Arcy, Paula. Gift of the Red Bird. The Crossroad Publishing Company. 1996.