The Misperception of Death

Who are you? What is the miracle that happens at birth? What is death? Is there anything after death? These are questions that have haunted human beings since they first walked the earth.

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Now, consider this. A single wave moves through the ocean, heading towards the shore, along with all its friends. As it crashes onto the shore, it disappears. “Where did it go?”, its living friends wonder.

We have called the disappearance of the wave ‘death’. We tend to waste our precious time on earth fearing that disappearance, spend our life trying to avoid it, and invent so many stories trying to explain or deny it. Many of our spiritual and religious teachings are designed to pacify our fear and anxiety surrounding it, to numb our curiosity with easy answers, distracting us from the obvious truth with promises of extravagant things to be revealed or acquired or experienced after death, and these theories may satisfy the mind but never the heart.

Where did the wave go? This is the key question.

The answer is, it ‘went’ nowhere at all, neither in time nor space. It did not go to heaven or hell. It did not go into limbo, or start another life. All of these ideas are based on a single but profound misunderstanding.

Let’s look again. When the wave crashed onto the shore, it simply dissolved back into the ocean. But even that isn’t true. Why? Because the wave was never separate from the ocean in the first place! The wave was always a unique appearance OF the ocean, a movement of the whole, not ‘in’ it or even ‘part’ of it. The whole does not ‘go’ anywhere at death, for there is nowhere for it to go. There is only itself. From the perspective of the ocean, when the wave crashes onto the shore, nothing has happened at all. Death is a non-event. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Only a dream has evaporated – the dream of separation, the illusion that there was ever a separate wave in the first place, a wave that was born, a wave that was about to die. At the exact point of death, there is no wave to die, for there is no wave at all. Understanding this removes all fear of death itself.

Death is not an ‘event’ in time. What is true upon what we call ‘death’, was true from the beginning. From the beginning, there was no separate wave. The wave was always absent as a separate entity. From the beginning, nothing was actually moving ‘through’ the ocean, through time and space. It was only ever the ocean moving, the ocean waving, not moving towards its destination, but always perfectly HERE.

Upon what we call death, as any illusion of self-contraction falls away in the vastness of yourself, as you relax into the Home you never left, all that is lost is that which was never truly You in the first place. All that is lost is any remaining feeling of burden. Your history, your imagined future, your beliefs, your theories, your certainties, your doubts, your fears, your regrets, your longings, your blocks, your sense of loss, your imagination of yourself and others, all dissolves clean away, leaving only that which never appeared in the first place – presence itself. You are stripped bare of all pretence, and dissolve cleanly into life. Death is pure life. Witness Jesus giving up the ‘ghost’ (the ghost of ‘me’) on the cross.

Knowing your own presence here and now – that is the key. Presence is the one ‘thing’ that has never been a ‘thing’ for you, the one thing that has never come and gone in your presence. Thoughts have come and gone, feelings have come and gone, dreams and hopes and fears have come and gone, images of past and future, beliefs, ideologies, religions, concepts of God and the devil, heaven and hell, light and dark, duality and nonduality, even life and death and the afterlife have paraded themselves for you, but what has never come and gone for you is the presence in which all of those appearances danced their dance.

You have never been aware of presence coming and going, ever. You will never be aware of the loss or disappearance of presence, ever. If you can be aware if it, if you can notice it, if you can know it, see it come or go, see it change or decay or pass, it was not really presence, it was your idea of presence. Presence is always ontologically prior to that which appears to be present. It is what we all are, what you are, and is sometimes referred to as an unlimited love without conditions that cannot die, even as the bodily attachment falls away.

In that sense, You, as in who you truly are, cannot die, and cannot experience death. All you can experience, all you can be aware of, is not death, it is life, the movement of life, the pulse and throb and flow and change of it, and in that sense even a near-death experience is not death, since it is still a happening in time or beyond time, held in the warm embrace of presence. The dying process may be painful or uncomfortable or even joyful, yes – it is in the realm of experience after all – but here we speak of death not dying, and we tell you that death is not your problem, it is never something you will have to do or prepare yourself for, it is not your concern at all. You will simply trust and relax into what you have always been. You will let the vast intelligence of the body take over, the intelligence that knows how to breathe right now, knows how to heal, knows how to pump blood round through the veins even in deep dreamless sleep, knows how to die. Its schedule is timeless. It has been doing this effortlessly for billions of years.

Who are you?

When you talk about ‘the end of my life’, what are you really talking about? What do you imagine happens when you die? Does it frighten you? Excite you?

Can who you truly are disappear? In your life, have you ever experienced the disappearance of You? If you did, who, exactly, experienced that? Are there two of you, one who disappeared, and another who experienced that?

Share your own experience with us and leave your reply in the comment box below.

This article was first published in September of 2013


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