Entwined like two lovers, birth and death may seem like book ends to life; however, they hint at a sacred union; a gateway to the eternal.
At the inner-most core of every spiritual path or religion, lies the universal, the essential, the eternal. Here it lays, in wait of recognition, of rediscovery; to ignite the heart, illumine the mind, and inspire the spirit.
But we are soooo busy. Busy and disconnected. We have lost our connection with nature, with source, with the power of ritual; our ability to be at one with the sacred. We have lost connection with our innate faculties of insight, intuition, and knowing.
We hurtle through time, invested in ‘getting by’; paying mortgages, birthing and raising children; repeating our mantra of ‘one day I’ll get around to it’, or ‘when this or that happens, I’ll be able to…’ We put our dreams on hold. Our essence, playfulness and creativity is typically shelved or delayed. We become ‘adults’. We ‘grow up’. And we do ‘what has to be done’, to get by as best we can.
And along the way, we forget. We get so busy DOing, that we forget the power of BEing. Most of us are lost in our past, our sensations, emotions, thoughts and story – lost in the constant feeling of our self as a separate ego, enclosed in a body that ends at the skin.
The realities of life
Regardless of our experience of self, most of us have to face ‘the realities of life’ in our every-day. We do our best to become effective, functional; to remain motivated in these complex and challenging times. And yes, when we succeed, we reward ourselves for our hard work. But the glow of the reward seldom lasts. No matter how much we learn to be time-wise, productive, motivated and empowered, the child within – and its dreams of love, truth, beauty and creativity doesn’t find fertile soil or a chance of expression.
This results in vital aspects of self being suppressed. We may suffer the loss of creativity, playfulness, inspiration, light-heartedness and passion. Over time, this continual suppression of our innate impulses becomes automatic, subconscious, a habit.
In my clinical practice and personal experience, our suppressed inner selves always find other means of expression; they’ll make themselves known however they can – whether through cravings, desires, dreams and symptoms. This may result in a busy mind filled with unwanted thoughts, uncontrollable emotions, physical sensations – including aches and pains. And it may lead to ongoing symptoms which eventually become chronic.
How can we actively choose wellness over illness then? The key is to avoid being untrue to our selves in the first place, and to heal by pro-actively bringing the suppressed unconscious to conscious awareness.
Where does the fear of death come from?
Our fear of death is ancestrally inherited, and collectively archetypal. It is unconscious (totally beyond our normal awareness). As it lies so deeply buried in our collective psyche, we aren’t even aware that we avoid the themes surrounding death, let alone themes which imply death. We all collectively fear change and loss. We abhor a feeling of loss of power – reduced potency, waning physical strength; ageing, disability, dysfunction, disease, etc.
If you are afraid of death, be afraid….
And (when you allow it fully) then comes the hitherto unbelievable surprise:
You don’t die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are.
Traditional and indigenous cultures, in comparison, carry in their collective psyche and blueprint, a much more holistic view of death and ageing. They have long celebrated ‘the old’ as wise elders, and recognise them as being rich in experience; closer to spirit, closer to source/the Divine, and therefore able to act as a channel or conduit for divine guidance; inner knowing, intuition and insight.
They build rites into their culture, honour nature in all its stages, and therefore mark the importance of all transitions in life. Each transition is the death of a former self, as a new phase of life begins.
So why does ageing scare us so much?
Perhaps ageing, especially in the West, is too closely related to death, and as such is swept under the carpet. It makes us feel powerless. In the media-driven and commercially-motivated beauty-culture, we find ourselves feeling undesirable or unworthy unless we are keeping up with the youthfulness of our peers. So, we avoid ageing and pretend it does not exist.
Our elders are routinely shoved away into aged care facilities, rather than being cared for by their spouses, children, or community (all for ‘good reasons’ I am sure, like expert staff, support and the like). But are we missing out on a gift available through advancing age? Does death itself reveal a gift if/when we cease the avoidance, and allow it fully? Is it possible that wisdom is a direct by-product of being closer to death? Could it also mean that the closer we are to the end of our life, the closer we are to God/Universal Self/Source etc?
And then I was overwhelmed by the realisation that God isn’t a being,
but a state of being…and I was now that state of being!
[Anita Moorjani – after her near-death experience Dying to be Me]
Living in resistance and denial
Through our obsession with youth and youthfulness, our culture avoids ageing as if it were death. We are in the habit of celebrating the blossom, or the youthful bud; not the mature flower, nor the fruit, nor its juice, let alone the plant without its petals or tender leaves, turned to potent seed…
Have you ever considered what the average Westerner spends on ‘staying young’ – and above all – looking young? Just add up the cost of all the face creams, lotions, potions, waxings, trims, nips, tucks and other beauty treatments, together with the cost of supplements, yoga, gym…
Don’t get me wrong; I am not implying that we all are only motivated by looking and/or feeling younger. But I do observe this within myself. I eat well and take herbal and nutritional supplements. I do this because I feel vital, energised, but to be brutally honest, because it helps me look good, which – yes – includes looking ‘at my youngest’.
Why do what we do & how can we change it?
It’s pretty clear that that our parental imprinting and education, both which are driven by our society’s zeitgeist, results in separation from nature and from our true selves. As a result, we are outward-focused – motivated by what we can do by effort – rather than equally inward-focused; and motivated by what we can do as by what we can allow by being.
Time and time again, we remember this truth; in workshops, in reading books and articles. But then we slide back. Why? We humans are simply wired and pre-programmed to avoid pain and to seek pleasure; it’s part of the deal of being human. And that’s the deal until we transcend our automatic patterning and habits.
Everybody loves to play this game – the game of hide-and-seek – the game of scaring oneself with uncertainty. It is human. It is why we go to the theatre or movies and why we read novels. And our so-called real life, seen from the position of the mystic, is a version of the same thing. The mystic is the person who has realised that the game is a game. It is hide-and-seek.
We kind of all know that life is a dream. That it’s a game. But – as those who have had profound spiritual insight would confirm – it’s part of the deal to agree to forget this. All the time. Why? Because, if we remembered that it’s a game, or even knew the outcome, would we really want to play? And if we did, would we play with complete commitment and all our passion? No. We would need to have ‘skin’ in the game.
We need to be invested and to have something to lose. How about life?
Yup. That would do the trick!
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