Number 83.– To Live Looking at Death
A commentary on Teaching number 2, “Meditation on Death”, Course “The Way of Renunciation”.
Today we are seeing more death than ever in the history of Humanity!
Just with TV news and photos in newspapers, particularly during the recent war in Middle East , it is enough to feel fed up with shows of death and eventually insensible with these images repeated beyond imagination.
Every day we are seeing death of our fellow men. News and papers do not save space to show it; these images are best-sellers. At a time, their meaning was something trivial; unknowingly, we refuse to think that those who die like that are souls that as the result of it shall undergo a violent end.
In a parallel way, and as a gigantic contradiction, in personal life, and also in family and relationship life, our present society tries to deny death as a part of life. Today it is not only of bad taste to speak of death, but even to grow old and die. These situations concealed behind excuses can be admitted only in a society that, being misled, mainly appraises perishable things, possessions, youth, vitality, and entertainment.
Recently I read a report referred to a research about the attitude of Humanity before death throughout different ages. Regarding our times, it says that in twentieth century, the First World War triggered a radical change: it is since then that death started being concealed and transformed into something shameful and censurable. People die by stealth, many times alone in an intensive care room. We are before a prohibited death.
Today, man has been deprived of death. Previously, information about our impending death was an inalienable right. Today, a sick person should not know his true state; he is deceived as a child. Previously, it was taken as something fearsome to end up without chances to be prepared. But today one hears of people saying with a sort of relief: “At least he died unknowingly”.
Current society refuses death and its precedent aging processes. On can see this attitude with clarity in a growing number of old men separate from their families and staying at “rest homes”, and terminal patients being far away from home.
Reflection on death is one of those universal teachings given to Humanity by all great Initiates. But eventually people never understand how important meditation on death is because they find this idea mainly opposite to what is valuable in the world.
Even they had tried to deceive death by means of cryogenics, like in the commentary of Reflection number 73, “Walt Disney's Mistake”, a monumental error explainable only by ignoring the cosmic laws related to the whole Man, not knowing that one's passage through physical life is only this: a passage, and that the Real being that we are leaves his useless clothing –the physical body– and follows his road toward the light.
In the Teaching, Master Santiago speaks with total accurateness and without euphemism or ambiguity, of a necessary meditation on finiteness of all things by paying particular attention to human death. It is an intense exhortation to meditate on death, which is the only certainty that all living beings have before us, and a demonstration of how things of this world are illusory and ephemeral.
Why should we meditate on death?
Because all is transient in this life. Because being fully conscious of this truth we'll be able to live without fear; really, we have nothing to lose. Because when that moment arrives for our body, we should be detached from things of this life, not to carry to the other world a dead weight that could make us endlessly wander and not find peace.
A beautiful Teaching, “Death”, in Course “Sacrifice”, says: “Death marauds everywhere. But the individual lives as if he never had to die, as if he were the only worth escaping the last law. Just to think of death is fearsome for many persons; they refuse to hear its name, and run away from any funereal conversation”. Fear, fear and fear; here is what makes us act like that.
Meditation on death is necessary not only as a preparation for such moment, but even for living better the rest of our lives. Many think only of “being prepared for my turn”, and immediately the mind finds an excuse to flee from the subject: “I'll have time for it; today I'll enjoy life…”.
They do not understand that if they think like that, never shall have time to do it, and what is more important: that today one must get rid of fear and that detachment from transient things shall enable to live today constantly conscious of life such as it is: beauty and sorrow, and joy and sadness, without nothing to remain tied. Only in this way one can pass through it with fullness, and leave the world triumphant and free.
The Teaching says: “A Son should reflect continuously on death and the perishable aspect of things, but not only as idea, but even as reality. It is easy to say, but one should verily make this come true”. In this reflection there are several aspects: the perishable side of all material things and illusions tying them to us, finiteness of the human beings, and our own death. We must meditate on all these aspects, but knowing that the hardest aspect to assume and work is the last one: others die, but not me.
How to face this subject? How to approach such necessary practice?
The Teaching recommends emphatically visiting cemeteries, because in every cemetery of the world one can know what human life is. If you cannot do it often, then use your imagination and go with your thought to those places where you'll be able to see how all those things seemingly real and lasting end up.
Anyway, we know that ultimately is not decisive what we may see or consider in our imagination, but our attitude to do it. A vision of death is useless if we do not force us to meditate on its deep meaning. Death images from TV and newspapers also should serve us to work within.
Terminal patients need assistance and human nearness. Offering them our company is not only a work of service, but even an excellent chance to see death closely. Why do many people avoid these situations? Why do stay wordless before them? By lack of knowledge, consciousness, and compassion, besides an underlying fear.
Other form of working with this subject is to pray for the dead. Many souls had a good life, but did not learn how to die. Never it will be enough what one requests and offers for these souls suffering and waiting in the dark. Many people die in bondage and tied by tight ties to the material world, now without a chance if someone does not make them see their situation and leads them toward the light.
In Course “Lectures at Embalse”, Teaching on Disincarnated Souls, Master Santiago explains how to pray for them and why they need our help: “One should walk with such being and tell him that the road through which he travels does not exist and is illusory. They are physical elements he took with him to the hereafter, and that is why he is sad and in sorrow”.
And later he adds: “Offer a prayer for most forsaken and suffering souls whom nobody recall; think of disincarnated beings that still believe that still stay here with a body. This leads to get desperate to the utmost, because what is worse is to believe that one lives without state, wanting to take part in physical goods. Be companions of them”.
The Whole Man
What does die? What does end up with physical death? To understand better these points it is proper to reflect on the fact that, if as human beings in the physical world the body is a part of our person, this body is not essential but a provisional abode of the Soul.
This reality might be seen and assumed with these words: “This body is alive because I am in it”.
The Teaching “The Whole Man”, Course “The Becoming”, explains how our human constitution is; so, it is clear what we leave behind and what keeps on existing at death.
The human being is ternary, and composed of body, soul and spirit, and simultaneously is septenary, since the body consists of three parts, and also the soul consists of three mental aspects. The body is formed by physical body, astral body, and energetic body, and of these, only one ends up at death, the physical, strictly material body. The rest of this human being keeps on existing on other planes, with other tasks to do and roads to travel.
The physical body is a part of the whole man, while both spirit and soul inhabit it, but this is as transient and disposable as any clothing with which we cover it. It is not real for the essential Being.
Do I Fear?
In our imagination, it is ever someone else that dies, not me. Our instinct is quite strong and through the identification of the being with the body this instinct makes us spend energies attempting to avoid an inevitable physical end. In order to situate better what is real, we might think: “It is this body in which I stay that is going to die”.
An elusive attitude is manifest in many ways: we take precautionary measures “for the time when we shall not stay”, and do it by practical reasons and in consideration of those who shall survive. But could we see our body converted into a skeleton and dust? Who can look at his hands and see, through the skin, disincarnated bones, or to look at oneself on a mirror and see a skull hidden behind the face?
Yes, I see. All this seems morbid, obsessive, crazy, alienated. Here is the opinion of society today. But is not really an alienation to live and subject our inner Being to perishable things?
In the movie picture “Patch Adams”, on a scene the leading actor, Robin Williams puts Mr. Davies, a patient of pancreas cancer, in face of death that very soon shall come, and tells him: “Death: decease, demise, passing…”, and so on. In less than two minutes, and with some thirty synonyms of the noun death, a drama takes place in which this patient goes from wrath and negation to the fact that he is going to die and this releases him in such a way that the scene ends up with the two characters laughing heartily.
This shows us that we need to face this reality in our daily life. When the time strikes, I don't feel to count with a Patch Adams helping us to understand and accept our death in two minutes. We should get rid of the world and of any identification with perishable things before that moment: if we learn how to die before we die, the transcendent being that we are shall be delivered easily to follow his higher destiny.
At the time of death one has to leave all attachments. This transit shall be easier in case of leaving them earlier. But the final instant is only a step; the trouble is afterwards, when we have to go on toward the light and remaining attached to things of the world we can wander amid a fog for long time. This is the extremely sad spectacle seen by Master Santiago as he tried to help to souls in that state, like in the example given by the Teaching.
Living without fear, looking at death
The challenge is to live with death ahead. So, we count on necessary tools and instructions in the Teachings and within us if we learn how to seek. Master Santiago says: “Sons, meditate also on the great moment when you were called to Renunciation….”. “If in the world there is a sublime bliss, this bliss consists in having renounced; this bliss is the fruit of understanding that all is transient in the world”.
Before this persistent proposal, many can wonder: “May our life be sad and regretful if we have continuously before us the contingent perspective of the world and particularly our physical disappearance?
Not at all; sadness and regret come from attachment and lack of understanding.
The effects of renunciation are true peace for the soul. The one that gives up to possession wants nothing to earn; he can live in the world, be free, and enjoy to the utmost beauty, love, and immanent joy in creation as the manifestation of the divine.
The Teaching number 8, Book “Spiritual Life of Cafh”, reads: “A solution should not come by leaving the world, but through its divinization. My renunciation does not deny life, but redeems it. Renunciation to life because its evils lack solutions is a quite poor remedy, but renunciation to life after you have transformed it is to have attained the end”.
As I think about being able to wait with serenity and lucidity the end of the earthily life, I recall lines of an old song:
My reason does not ask pity,
is ready to leave,
I do not fear the ritual death,
only to sleep and see myself erased.