Mindful Musings

                    “Death is a Passage not the End”What Does the Bible Say About Death? 10 Important Things to Know Over the years, it has become as good as living truth to me that we are more than our bodies. When we die, I have no doubt that some essence of who we are transcends the act of death and the flesh of the body. Of course, exactly where we go remains one of the greatest existential mysteries. Similar to both the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs on Reincarnation, I intuitively feel that each of us has taken countless births as males and females, as rich and poor, as oppressor and oppressed and even as faithful lover and duplicitous cheater. It is even possible, as Tibetan Buddhists believe, that we have even taken animal form in our previous incarnations!

Perhaps, the Universe’s grand intention for reincarnation is for us all to steadily build toward full awareness of who we truly are through the many experiences lived and lessons learned from each incarnation. Buddhists might call this awareness “nirvana”, Hindu’s “self-realization” and Christian mystics “infinite bliss”, but the same idea is implied. Through each passing incarnation we move closer and closer to realizing our total union with the One, God, Tao, the Universal Mind. It is true, that hardliner materialist scientists cling to the notion that when our bodies die we in fact die too. However, isn’t it at least a little bit ironic that the very cycles in which they study can easily be summoned to rebuttal such closed ways of interpreting our being?

After all, the seasons undergo an eternal cycle of birth, death and re-birth. The sun and moon partake in both an exquisite and cyclical dance of cosmic positioning. And, as theoretical physicists are just beginning to prove through reason and what sages have long known through meditation, the cosmos itself is constantly expanding, then imploding only to expand again. If we are truly one with all that is and comprised of the same universal matter why would our experience deviate from that same deeply profound and eternal law found everywhere else in our known Universe?

 

Mindful Musings

An eagle, a lion, a wolf, a deer and a bear sat around the campfire for their weekly respite from work. This week, their conversation focused on the foils of humanity.As the embodiment of freedom and the first messenger of the Creator, the Eagle was the first to speak:

“My brothers and sisters, the humans, seem to be deluded into thinking they’re free. They seem to think that one can achieve freedom through the mind’s subjugation of nature. Why, that’s preposterous! Is it not, dear friends?”

All nodded in emphatic agreement, as the Eagle continued to speak:

“Through severing itself from the sacredness of the wild, humanity has only enslaved itself. For all beings draw their physical and spiritual sustenance from the Earth. She is our direct access point to the Creator. No being can fully connect with the Supreme Consciousness without communing with the Earth.”

The Eagle paused for a moment and continued:

“So, humans can go on exploiting and desecrating the land with their towers of hubris, talking wires and toxic chemicals, but none of it will satisfy their desperate thirst for freedom.

“Man speaks much about God, but rare is the human who knows that the Great Spirit dwells within the forests, mountains, oceans, rivers and deserts. Sadly, with the exception of their wise native brethren, it seems that humans are destined to follow down their own self-inflicted paths of suffering.”

For several moments, the group grew silent as they nodded their heads in agreement with the wise and venerable Eagle. Finally, the courageous Lion rose to speak:

African lion's face

“It appears to me that freedom is not the only thing that humans are misled about. Humankind is under the mistaken assumption that true courage is to conquer through might, which by way of the Universal law, isn’t morally right.

“True courage isn’t sending young people to fight for the money and power of tyrants. Nor is it courage, to commission expeditions to far-flung corners of the world in pursuit of precious resources and minerals that should never have been dug up from the ground.

“True courage is to look within to the hallowed guides of our being for divine instruction and inspiration: The sun and the moon, the cycle of the seasons, the whispering chorus of the wind, and the ebb and flow of water’s epic journey to the ONE.”

The Lion paused briefly to clear its throat, before proceeding:

“True courage is to stand behind the divine principles of creation and to be shining examples of IT’s perfect heart in form and in spirit—even in cases in which our own moral uncertainty is present.”

Once again, all in the circle grew silent, until it was the loyal Wolf’s turn to speak:

“My brothers and sisters, it’s not just freedom and courage that humans lack. They seem not to comprehend the meaning of loyalty. Loyalty has little to do with one’s peaceful assimilation to conformist rules and structures. Nor does it have anything to do with the jealous guardianship of one’s dogmatic beliefs and lifestyle choices. True loyalty has everything to do with one’s dedication to spirited self-reflection and genuine service to others.”

The Wolf paused for dramatic effect, before completing its thought:

“In our wolf packs, we’re loyal to one another through thick and thin. We’re loyal to one another for precisely this purpose: we’re all on this same journey through the wisdom of form. As far as I can see, humans have yet to learn the depths of this kind of loyalty.”

Wolf pack in the snow

All stared adoringly at the Wolf for a few moments, until the compassionate Deer assumed the mantle of inspiration:

“Friends, it’s quite apparent to me that the two-leggeds don’t appear to have an adequate understanding of compassion, either. One can’t live freely, be courageous or extend loyalty to others if they’re unable to open their hearts.

“Why, whenever we deer are forced to bury our kin in the ground, owing to another murderous sport hunter, I cry out in vain to the Creator and ask if man has a soul. For how can one kill their earthly brethren for entertainment? “

The Deer wiped a tear from its eye and continued:

“And it’s not just the murder of its own kind! Humans plunder one another in their petty contests for power and domination. How sad and senseless, indeed! The humans fail to understand that compassion extends both inwards and outwards in all directions from the heart, and washes over all beings without exception. True compassion, then, is to see the peace within oneself reflected in all creatures.”

To a jubilant chorus of “Amen,” the majestic Deer bowed to its beloved friends in the circle before sitting back down. At last, it was the faithful Bear’s turn to speak:

“My children and fellow teachers, I have sat here in a most grateful silence and listened to all your lamentations about modern man. I must say that I think your comments are wise and accurate.

“However, I would like to add that our lost human friends are lacking a fifth quality that fully explains why their conceptions of freedom, courage, loyalty and compassion are so sorely lacking. That missing quality is faith, and without it, they can’t understand what it means to be free, courageous, loyal or compassionate. “

The Bear paused for a moment to take a puff of sacred herb from his pipe. He then passed the instrument counter-clockwise and continued:

“Faith is at the root of our being. Think of the faith that bears must have each winter! For months at a time, we go into hibernation. We have tremendous faith that the wisdom of the universe will enable us to pull through the winter and experience the bounty of another springtime in bloom.

“Though mankind may lack a similar faith in themselves, it doesn’t imply that they won’t one day find it. We must not lose faith in humans and turn a blind eye to their suffering. For, as we know all too well, the ill-fated actions of man have an impact on our own quality of life.  It’s up to us, the animals, to show them how to live. We must inspire them all to look within themselves.”

At the exact moment that the Bear finished speaking, the group heard a rustling in the forest. All turned in amazement as two human teenagers walked through the woods, with big smiles on their faces.

Two teenagers smiling in woods

To the joy of all those gathered, the boy and girl proceeded to sit down in the Lotus position, next to a large stone. Hidden from plain view, the animals watched in delighted silence as the humans recited a moving prayer to the Earth:

“Great Spirit. Mover of the Cosmos. Lover of Morning and Night. We offer you, Mother Earth, our blessings and pray that you enlighten our souls with your compassion, peace and wisdom.

“You’re the essence of beauty and the source of all clarity.  Your life-sustaining rain washes over us with all its soulful purity. Your mountain peaks make us humble and reflect the vastness of your inner presence. And in your sacred forests, we feel the truth near and have nothing to fear.

“Earth Goddess: We pray for your protection and for the illumination of our human family. Peace. Peace. Peace.”

Mindful Musings

“An Encounter With the Spirit of Death”

By: Forrest Rivers(originally published on the mindfulword.org)

Two seekers of wisdom spent all day climbing a formidable mountain. After many hours of walking, the duo finally arrived at the summit, where they were greeted by an old mountain goat.

The two startled humans stared uneasily at the mighty being before them, and nervously shuffled backward. In turn, the mountain goat stared back at the pair with a look of amused bewilderment. The seekers grew exceedingly frightened and turned to run away. But before they could move, the mountain goat gently spoke to them through telepathy:

“Why do you have fear?”

The mountain goat conveyed feelings of great compassion through its inner voice, as it awaited a response from the still-terrified humans. After a few moments of stunned silence, the first seeker gathered up the courage to speak:

“Illustrious master, we feared for our lives. Your form is both wild and intimidating.”

The mountain goat warmly replied:

“But why did you fear for your lives at this very moment? Did you not just encounter the spirit of death all along your pilgrimage up to this hallowed peak? And did you not unknowingly stroll past a den of hungry bears and circumvent perilous cliffs on your way to this summit? Why did you not cower in fear then? One step closer to the den and you would’ve met the wrath of an imposing mama bear. One misstep along the rugged trail to the pinnacle and you would’ve plummeted to your death!”

The first seeker thought for a lengthy moment and then responded:

“I suppose we didn’t have fear in either case, because death didn’t seem imminent. We didn’t come face to face with a bear as we did with you. Nor did we fear the treacherous road up to this point because we’re seasoned climbers.”

The mountain goat pondered the first seeker’s words, and again replied:

“I see. But you still haven’t answered my initial question. Why do you have fear?”

A look of mild exasperation swept across the face of the first seeker, as they retorted:

“I think I answered that question already. We felt fear because we believed our lives were in immediate danger.”

The wise mountain goat looked firmly at the first seeker and said:

“You must learn not to fear death—imminent or not. No matter how hard you try to push your fear of it away, you’ll encounter it. “

The mountain goat paused for dramatic effect and then continued:

“I call your attention to a famous inscription on an old tombstone that reads: ‘Dear friend, please know as you pass by, as you are now, so once was I. As I am now so you will be. Prepare yourself to follow me. ‘

What this inscription teaches is that rather than live in fear, it’s infinitely wiser to embrace death as part of the natural cycle—or way—of being. The degree to which you can consciously come to terms with this existential inevitability also determines the depth to which you live this life. “

The second seeker, who’d been silent, finally chimed in:

“Oh, venerable seer, my soul knows the truth in your wise words. But my mind is frightened at what lies beyond the end of the body. Please tell me, what is death and what’s in store for us beyond it?”

The mountain goat carefully gathered its thoughts before explaining:

“Death is, and death is not. Death is taking off the tight shoe. Death is the entrance into a world without beginning or end. Death is the continuance of a sacred cycle in which the soul drops the body and continues its quest to enlightenment. Death is the survival of pure awareness beyond the contours of the flesh. And death is the inner realm by which the soul reflects the light of its own luminous essence.

“Death is to reunite with the eternal Brahman and the one within all. Death is the entrance into the deepest realms of consciousness and where one goes interminably in preparation for rebirth in a new body. Death is a karmic bridge between the memories of yesterday and the promises of tomorrow. Death is to be fully present and clear of illusion. Death is to merge in complete union with the Eternal One—who alone is true.”

Monk and layman walking across bridge

The second seeker looked in awe at the mighty being before them, and asked:

“If death is all this, wise master, and elemental to the way of being, why are people in my own culture taught to fear it?”

The mountain goat fixed an emphatic gaze on both seekers and said:

“Delusion! People in your culture live in Delusion! Well maybe not all the people of … but surely those with any measure of influence and power. Your teachers and celebrities contribute to the cloud of delusion surrounding death. Your media spokesmen and politicians, too. And even your very parents … those inspiring souls who raised you with tender love through your innocent youth.

“However, none keep you more blind to death’s true nature than your high priests, rabbis and preachers. You see, here in the West, there’s a peculiar and arrogant tendency among your religious figures to attach their own fears and insecurities about death to their sermons and interpretations of scripture.”

The second seeker grew silent as they digested the sheer honesty of the mountain goat’s words. Finally, after a few moments of reflection, the first seeker spoke once again:

“Oh Noble One, how may we learn not to fear death?”

Before the mountain goat could reply, the second seeker quickly added:

“And how shall we, oh Illumined Being, come to accept death as part of the way?

The mountain goat stared lovingly at both seekers of wisdom and replied:

“What’s required now is for both of you to find the courage to prepare for the inevitability of your own deaths. Only through such preparation will you discover the truth of how to live right now. Be brave, learn how to sit still and meditate upon death. Make meditation a daily practice and come to study the sacred cycles of life and death in nature.

“Stroll through the woods in all four seasons and observe the unique qualities of each. Note the innocence of spring, the vitality of summer, the crispness of autumn and the stillness of winter. You’ll come to feel that each are beautiful, each are transcendent and each are interrelated. Finally, come to experience death not as an end but as a return to your purest essence.”

The wise seekers raised their heads up and looked reverently at their great teacher. The mountain goat bowed its head to both its disciples and suddenly transformed into a soaring eagle.

Both humbled aspirants burst into tears as they watched God’s first messenger fly above the enchanted blue mountain range and into the heavens. As the eagle flew out of sight, the last words that this soulful duo heard were:

Look within. Be free. Fear not the inevitable approach of death.”