by Richard West
I had the pleasure of giving a workshop at Trew Fields cancer and holistic health awareness Festival this last weekend.
It was truly inspiring to see so many people challenging their preconceived ideas and conditioning around subjects such as cancer, drugs, holistic therapies and death.
However, even here I observed some resistance to talking about dying itself.
Ultimately, what we see as death is just one manifestation of a process which is happening all the time.
So instead of focusing on death as going from one state (alive) to another (dead), it is much more helpful to see it like this:
What this definition shows us is that dying is a continual occurrence which is one half of a bigger process:
The other half is life...
Death and life exist as one, neither being able to exist without the other.
The amazing thing about seeing death in this way is that, with it comes the realization that this movement of energy (dying) is totally applicable to our everyday lives.
By this I mean,
This could be,
...the list goes on, but you get the picture.
The thing is that sooner or later, death will take all of these things away. Heavy, right...!
Death happens to you every day.
It happens every time you don't get your expectations met, every time you feel pain, or every time someone disagrees with you or does something that triggers you.
On a slightly larger scale, it happens when you change or lose jobs, house or relationships. And, of course it happens when a loved one dies or you permanently lose a function of your body or mind.
Whether it's physical, emotional, mental or even existential. There's just no way to control whether you experience pain or not. Sure, you could pop a pill, or distract yourself with entertainment or soft drugs.
However, the problem with this is that it creates a kind of polarity in your consciousness. Me vs. the pain/loss. So you're never fully able to experience your reality in that moment.
And why would you want to?
If we chose to experience our pain so fully that that there is no longer a separate 'self' retracting from it, then suddenly all suffering vanishes (and often so does the pain with it).
Suddenly it is obvious that this sensation no longer defines you. It no longer has any power over you, because you realize that there is a bigger part of you that cannot be touched by it.
(For more on how to do this, see 'Be as a lake - A fresh perspective on pain').
It's by letting go of these identities, which are holding us back from fully experiencing our current reality, that leads us to our true selves. There is a part of us that is beyond our experience of pain. It is beyond sensations, emotions and thought.
This is not some far out concept. It can be experienced by everyone, no matter your spiritual outlook.
For more ways to cultivate this see the 3-part series of articles on 'The Observer'.
When we realize that an old identity is no longer a viable part of your current reality, coming back to these feelings provides us with a bridge back to our essential selves.
For example, if we were to lose a job which gave us a sense of purpose, of helping to better the world, then we can connect with the sense of compassion inside. Or perhaps the job provided us with a sense of achievement or innovation - in which case we can connect with our sense or passion or curiosity.
For more on this process see, 'Letting go - How to do it'.
There is simply less and less to let go of when you aren't carrying so many identities around. We may not know what happens when we finally let go of our body...
However, by learning to die right now, we can begin to fully live in each moment.
Coming closer to our essential selves gives us so much stability, that there's no longer anything to fear from losing that which is no longer a part of our reality.
It is not an easy process. It takes a lot of courage, especially in the beginning.
But, I promise you the
rewards are worth it!