Lesson 34: Death in the Forest

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For five years, I provided massage work for Hospice in working with terminally ill people who were experiencing significant pain in the last phases of their lives. It was as though the person’s end had been securely placed on a calendar and life was measured in seconds, not hours or days. As with all human beings, mental and emotional pain of regret and remorse often exceeds physical pain.

The loss of a loved one is excruciatingly unbearable, and yet, all relationships end through death, divorce or separation. But notice…each one does end at its appointed time. But also notice that that which is omnipresent is not a mystery. If it happens to everyone, it is a tragedy? Or is it is a natural process? Nonetheless, this understanding doesn’t make it any easier. Grief is being forced to let go when you don’t want to let go. Grief is saying goodbye.

“Then Savitri sat under branches wide,
Cool, green against the sun, not the hurt tree
Which his keen axe had cloven, that she shunned;
But leaned beneath a fortunate kingly trunk
She guarded him in her bosom and strove to soothe
His anguished brow and body with her hands.
All grief and fear were dead within her now
And a great calm had fallen.”
Satyavan begins to die.
“But now his sweet familiar hue was changed
Into a tarnished greyness and his eyes
Dimmed over, forsaken of the clear light she loved.
Only the dull and physical mind was left,
Vacant of the bright spirit’s luminous gaze.
But once before it faded wholly back,
He cried out in a clinging last despair,
‘Savitri, Savitri, O Savitri.
Lean down, my soul, and kiss me while I die.’”
Death appears.
“The Shadow of a remote uncaring god
Doomed to his Nought the illusory universe,
Cancelling its show of idea and act in Time
And its imitation of eternity
She knew that visible Death was standing there
And Satyavan had passed from her embrace.”

Unconscious of the unfolding truth of your life and death, your physical body disguises the immortality of your nature. The daily contraction and expansion of life, one day here and gone the next, causes you to see and experience instability when in fact, each moment is the act of perfection revealing itself to you. Life and death appear to be two but in reality they are one. Both cannot be true because truth is not divided. Truth is.

I understand how difficult this is for you to consider. How does your heart not break when you encounter death? How does your heart make room for the goodbye…and the next goodbye…and the next goodbye?

And when “visible Death” is standing in front of you, what will you do? When what you desire fades from sight, when the fear of change grips your being and the compression from the weight of life shortens your breath, what will you do?

From East to West, yogis, lamas, gurus, priests, philosophers, and seekers have understood the purpose of life as being a transition to another dimension, to another world that is not part of this world. The escape to this other dimension is achieved through death. But if death is the doorway into the other dimension, then death is nothing more than a “middle-man.” Cut out the “middle man” and what happens?

It is only through your awakening and transformation that you will see through death which not only includes physical death but loss at all levels.

“Closely she clasped to her the mute lifeless form
As though to guard the oneness they had been
And keep the spirit still within its frame.
Then suddenly there came on her the change
Which in tremendous moments of our lives
Can overtake sometimes the human soul
And hold it up towards its luminous source.
The veil is torn, the thinker is no more:
Only the spirit sees and all is known.”

With her husband’s corpse on her breast, untouched and tranquil in this moment, she remains with him a little longer until her movement towards the black void and the confrontation with death begins. Her purpose, the conquering of death and the divinization of mankind, is underway.