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InvisibleSkorpivoMusterion
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Death & the Eternal
    #3393626 - 11/21/04 06:40 PM (12 years, 15 days ago)

When you walk through a forest that has not been tamed and interfered with by man, you will see not only abundant life all around you, but you will also encounter fallen trees and decaying trunks, rotting leaves and decomposing matter at every step. Wherever you look, you will find death as well as life.

Upon closer scrutiny, however, you will discover that the decomposing tree trunk and rotting leaves not only give birth to new life, but are full of life themselves. Microorganisms are at work. Molecules are rearranging themselves. So death isn?t to be found anywhere. There is only the metamorphosis of life forms. What can you learn from this?

Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.

~

Sages and poets throughout the ages have recognized the dreamlike quality of human existence ? seemingly so solid and real yet so fleeting that it could dissolve at any moment.

At the hour of your death, the story of your life may, indeed, appear to you like a dream that is coming to an end. Yet even in a dream there must be an essence that is real. There must be a consciousness in which the dream happens; otherwise, it would not be.

That consciousness ? does the body create it or does consciousness create the dream of body, the dream of somebody?

Why have most of those who went through a near-death experience lost their fear of death?
Reflect upon this.

~

Of course you know you are going to die, but that remains a mere mental concept until you meet death ?in person? for the first time: through a serious illness or an accident that happens to you or someone close to you, or through the passing away of a loved one, death enters your life as the awareness of your own mortality.

Most people turn away from it in fear, but if you do not flinch and face the fact that your body is fleeting and could dissolve at any moment, there is some degree of disidentification, however slight, from your own physical and psychological form, the ?me.? When you see and accept the impermanent nature of all life forms, a strange sense of peace comes upon you.

Through facing death, your consciousness is freed to some extent from identification with form. This is why in some Buddhist traditions, the monks regularly visit the morgue to sit and meditate among the dead bodies.

There is still a widespread denial of death in Western cultures. Even old people try not to speak or think about it, and dead bodies are hidden away. A culture that denies death inevitably becomes shallow and superficial, concerned only with the external form of things. When death is denied, life loses its depth. The possibility of knowing who we are beyond name and form, the dimension of the transcendent, disappears from our lives because death is the opening into that dimension.

~

People tend to be uncomfortable with endings, because every ending is a little death. That?s why in many languages, the word for ?good-bye? means ?see you again.?

Whenever an experience comes to an end ? a gathering of friends, a vacation, your children leaving home ? you die a little death. A ?form? that appeared in your consciousness as that experience dissolves. Often this leaves behind a feeling of emptiness that most people try hard not to feel, not to face.

If you can learn to accept and even welcome the endings in your life, you may find that the feeling of emptiness that initially felt uncomfortable turns into a sense of inner spaciousness that is deeply peaceful.

By learning to die daily in this way, you open yourself to Life.

~

Most people feel that their identity, their sense of self, is something incredibly precious that they don?t want to lose. That is why they have such fear of death.

It seems unimaginable and frightening that ?I? could cease to exist. But you confuse that precious ?I? with your name and form and a story associated with it. That ?I? is no more than a temporary formation in the field of consciousness.

As long as that form identity is all you know, you are not aware that this preciousness is your own essence, your innermost sense of I Am, which is consciousness itself. It is the eternal in you ? and that?s the only thing you cannot lose.

~

Whenever any kind of deep loss occurs in your life ? such as loss of possessions, your home, a close relationship; or loss of your reputation, job or physical abilities ? something inside of you dies. You feel diminished in your sense of who you are. There may also be a certain disorientation. ?Without this?who am I??

When a form that you had unconsciously identified with as part of yourself leaves you or dissolves, that can be extremely painful. It leaves a hole, so to speak, in the fabric of your existence.

When this happens, don?t deny or ignore the pain or the sadness that you feel. Accept that it is there. Beware of your mind?s tendency to construct a story around that loss in which you are assigned the role of victim. Fear, anger, resentment, or self-pity are the emotions that go with that role. Then become aware of what lies behind those emotions as well as behind the mind-made story: that hole, that empty space. Can you face and accept that strange sense of emptiness? If you do, you may find that it is no longer a fearful place. You may be surprised to find peace emanating from it.

Whenever death occurs, whenever a life form dissolves, God, the formless and unmanifested, shines through the opening left by the dissolving form. That is why the most sacred thing in life is death. That is why the peace of God can come to you through the contemplation and acceptance of death.

~

How short-lived every experience is, how fleeting our lives. Is there anything that is not subject to birth and death, anything that is eternal?

Consider this: if there were only one color, let us say blue, and the entire world and everything in it were blue, then there would be no blue. There needs to be something that is not blue so that blue can be recognized; otherwise, it would not ?stand out?, would not exist.

In the same way, does it not require something that is not fleeting and impermanent for the fleetingness of all things to be recognized? In other words: if everything, including yourself, were impermanent, would you even know it? Does the fact that you are aware of and can witness the short-lived nature of all forms, including your own, not mean that there is something in you that is not subject to decay?

When you are twenty, you are aware of your body as strong and vigorous; sixty years later, you are aware of your body as weakened and old. Your thinking may have changed from when you were twenty, but the awareness that knows your body is young or old or that your thinking has changed has undergone no change. That awareness is the eternal in you ? consciousness itself. It is the formless One Life. Can you lose it? No, because you are It.

~

Some people become deeply peaceful and almost luminous just before they die, as if something is shining through the dissolving form.

Sometimes it happens that very ill or old people become almost transparent, so to speak, in the last few weeks, months, or even years of their lives. As they look at you, you may see a light shining through their eyes. There is no psychological suffering left. They have surrendered and so the person, the mind-made egoic, ?me,? has already dissolved. They have ?died before they died? and found the deep inner peace that is the realization of the deathless within themselves.

~

To every accident and disaster there is a potentially redemptive dimension that we are usually unaware of.

The tremendous shock of totally unexpected, imminent death can have the effect of forcing your consciousness completely out of identification with form. In the last few moments before physical death, and as you die, you then experience yourself as consciousness free of form. Suddenly, there is no more fear, just peace and a knowing that ?all is well? and that death is only a form dissolving. Death is then recognized as ultimately illusory ? as illusory as the form you had identified with as yourself.

~

Death is not an anomaly or the most dreadful of all events as modern culture would have you believe, but the most natural thing in the world, inseparable from and just as natural as its polarity ? birth. Remind yourself of this when you sit with a dying person.

It is a great privilege and sacred act to be present at a person?s death as a witness and companion.

When you sit with a dying person, do not deny any aspect of that experience. Do not deny what is happening and do not deny your feelings. The recognition that there is nothing you can do may make you feel helpless, sad, or angry. Accept what you feel. Then go one step further: accept that there is nothing you can do, and accept it completely. You are not in control. Deeply surrender to every aspect of that experience, your feelings as well as any pain or discomfort the dying person may be experiencing. Your surrendered state of consciousness and the stillness that comes with it will greatly assist the dying person and ease their transition. If words are called for, they will come out of the stillness within you. But they will be secondary.

With the stillness comes the benediction: peace.

~




--------------------
Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.


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Offlinedeff
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #3393735 - 11/21/04 07:01 PM (12 years, 15 days ago)

awesome post skorp :smile:, just thought I'd add-

when 'you' associate with the body, 'you' are very much mortal

when 'you' associate with nothing, the awareness is eternal

we in essence are this void, and so our essence is eternal with or without the awareness of this. however, death of self occurs purely when the associated 'thing' of self is changed beyond continued association. to be eternally and infinitely aware (consciously transcending death if you will) requires zero association of self.

:smile:


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OfflineJacquesCousteau
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #3393902 - 11/21/04 07:36 PM (12 years, 15 days ago)

Skorp, thanks again.

I don't know if you (or anyone) recalls, but a while ago I posted a thread about my dad suffering from depression. For a long while I wished there was a way I could easily convey to him what he needs to do to get over it. It occured to me that it would be great if he were on this board, but due to his religious roots I don't think he would allow himself to view this source unbiasedly.

So as a solution to this, I've started compiling text files from this board for him, and your posts make up a lot of what I pass onto him.

So thanks a lot, and keep this stuff coming!  :heart:


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OfflineMixomatosis
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #3393923 - 11/21/04 07:39 PM (12 years, 15 days ago)

extensive and well-organized thoughts skorp

one question:

So if the death is all good and the buddhists are so tuned in to how death is a perfectly natural and inevitable thing, why they all freaky about not killing eachother and other life forms? Why don't they teach us that death is cool in a blaze of nuclear glory?


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Offlinedeff
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: Mixomatosis]
    #3393957 - 11/21/04 07:45 PM (12 years, 15 days ago)

that's about intent

there is no desire towards destruction


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InvisibleSkorpivoMusterion
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: JacquesCousteau]
    #3394103 - 11/21/04 08:29 PM (12 years, 15 days ago)

Jacques, I deeply appreciate you divulging that - it warmed up a smile in my heart.. Thank you. :heart:

Mix, in addition to what Deff said; it is because of the balance between respect for Death and Life-forms.
Such respect is an example of what lies within the "Middle-Way" which the Buddha taught. The Middle-way is free from extremes or opposite polarities.
The zenith of practicing such neutrality, is being totally Here-Now as opposed to living in either polar opposites of past or future.



--------------------
Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.


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OfflineMixomatosis
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #3394674 - 11/21/04 10:50 PM (12 years, 15 days ago)

ok, but it seems like that balance point it pretty open to interpretation. For example, to me trying to live without ever hurting a fly doesn't seem like any kind of middle path, it seems a little pathological. And if they're going for a middle path, why shave their heads? Shouldn't they be going for something halfway between that and dreads.. like a mullet perhaps?

It seems that the location of the middle path between any two states is open to interpretation, excepting maybe the case of "being here now." The present is the obvious halfway point between the past and the future.

Another question I have is if buddhists respect life so much, why do they eat so much rice? Wetlands are the ideal terrain to convert to rice paddies, and they also happen to contain the highest biodiversity of all the ecosystem types (especially the tropical ones). So sure, they don't kill any animals directly, but as a result of their dependencies on rice they end up ridding the world of some of the most diverse ecosystems. Conservation biologists would remind us that the global web of life requires diversity for strength, so while these buddhists are claiming to hold some kind of moral stance, they're simultaneously undermining the conditions that make it possible for all life to survive.

So what I'm getting at is that the buddhists seem to be guilty of the same bad habit all other religions suffer from: Drawing lines as arbitrarily as any two-year old. For example it's ok to eat vegetables but not animals, like vegetables aren't alive or something? If you ask me, they're just wooses who'd rather stab life forms who can't run away.


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #3394701 - 11/21/04 10:54 PM (12 years, 15 days ago)

That is why the most sacred thing in life is death.

And hence, why the USA went to Iraq.


--------------------



The proof is in the pudding.


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InvisibleHuehuecoyotl
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: Swami]
    #3395015 - 11/22/04 12:04 AM (12 years, 15 days ago)

Hey, we got to carry the word...enlighten our brothers...


--------------------
"A warrior is a hunter. He calculates everything. That's control. Once his calculations are over, he acts. He lets go. That's abandon. A warrior is not a leaf at the mercy of the wind. No one can push him; no one can make him do things against himself or against his better judgment. A warrior is tuned to survive, and he survives in the best of all possible fashions." ― Carlos Castaneda


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: deff]
    #3395220 - 11/22/04 07:53 AM (12 years, 15 days ago)

when 'you' associate with the body, 'you' are very much mortal

Association is the linking of disparate objects/ideas. As "you" are a property of your body, the comment does not make sense. You may change your ideas all you want and put them into quaint little mystical boxes, yet will still grow old and die.


--------------------



The proof is in the pudding.


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Invisibleninjapixie
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #3396816 - 11/23/04 03:57 AM (12 years, 14 days ago)

Quote:

SkorpivoMusterion said:

Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.






You are correct if you define death as 'life ending,' then it is the opposite of birth.

But living and dead are opposites. They define one another. If life is eternal then so is death because the two are meaningless without each other.

How would you know if somethings dead if you have nothing alive to compare it to?


--------------------
Put that monkey back in the oven.


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OfflineNomad
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: Mixomatosis]
    #3396907 - 11/23/04 04:43 AM (12 years, 14 days ago)

A buddhist would not claim that "life is sacred", or some such rubbish. He would just say that pain sucks, so one should try not to do actions which hurt oneself or hurt another. While the large-scale production of rice may ruin an entire ecosystem, there will be little pain inflicted - most of the damage would be because of creatures who are never born. In the same way, unlike animals, vegetables don't feel pain, so it's perfectly okay to wipe them from the face of earth in a blaze of nuclear glory.

On the other hand, suppose there is an AI capable of suffering. Then a buddhist would use psychic powers to check if there is indeed a subjective experience corresponding to pain, and if there is, the same ethical standards apply.


Edited by Nomad (11/23/04 04:53 AM)


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Offlinedeff
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: Nomad]
    #3398698 - 11/23/04 03:55 PM (12 years, 13 days ago)

"Association is the linking of disparate objects/ideas. As "you" are a property of your body, the comment does not make sense. You may change your ideas all you want and put them into quaint little mystical boxes, yet will still grow old and die."

Hey, that's your belief :wink:


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Death & the Eternal [Re: deff]
    #3398859 - 11/23/04 04:26 PM (12 years, 13 days ago)

It is a "belief" fully supported by observation. Have never observed a person or consciousness devoid of a body.


--------------------



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