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  • Daniel Rodman

Death

Traditionally death is seen as the ultimate extinguishing, becoming nothing, the end of life. For that reason it was a source of great fear and instinctively we are built to avoid it at any costs. There are many theories throughout history that have tried to understand death in a different light. Some believe that after death we may go to a better place, like a heaven. Others think that we are reborn into a new life until we are spiritually fully developed. Some thought that we become one with everything after we die, or that we live with our ancestors in a different realm. Others still believe that we become a part of the earth where we are buried, and the life that come out of it.

Death has much to teach us, primarily our impermanence and therefore the preciousness of life. Meditation on death has a strong power to make people not sweat the small stuff, and to cherish life and others more. Death brings us humility, knowing that there are forces that are out of our control which will inevitably bring our end. We learn to accept these forces willingly, which brings surrender to our hearts.

The physical death of the body is nothing to be afraid of. If our love is something so natural and innate to us, and death is a natural part of life, then death and our love share a common source. That source is in the nature of our love, since our love comes from it, and for that reason we need not fear death, no matter where it leads. But even if death was the literal end of our being, the meaning of life itself extends beyond our individual life. When we deeply feel the meaning of life itself, it is always beyond us, and always true, even unto our death. In that meaning our hearts can find rest, knowing that meaning survives us. Besides the physical death there is a death that we are at first resistant to but eventually welcome. That is the death of the ego. This is the moment in our spiritual life where we finally and truly let go of our ego, what we think we are, and surrender to the spiritual identity within us. The ego will fight it, feeling weak and under-appreciated. But once we go beyond the threshold and let go, our true identity is experienced as boundless. For so long it has lived in the confines of our own conceptual cage, what we think we are. Now, we are free, true, and limitless. This is the death of the ego.

There is a place in us that is literally deathless. We could call that place the nature of the mind, the Divine Within, the Kingdom of God, or pure consciousness. This place is the real ground of our spiritual being, and is the consolation of all worries. We may never fear death in the knowing of the deathless. In meditation we try to hear the whisper of this presence within in the stillness of the mind. What we hear may be faint, but it resonates in all things. May you come to terms with death, let go of ego, and realize the deathless in you.

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