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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thoughts on life, death and beyond

My grandparents with my Mum, taken in the West Coast of Scotland, Summer 2000

A few nights ago I dreamt of my grandfather, who sadly passed on in 2004. I was back in his and my grandmother's house and oh my god, it was JUST LIKE I WAS THERE. Even in the dream i started crying because i realised how much i missed it, how much I missed THEM and how big a part of my life they were. Every single detail was there, even things I'd long forgotten. it wasnt the happiest time i was there in my dream, either - it was after granny had gone into a nursing home and my grandad was alone and really his whole world had disappeared. it was so difficult. i really miss them both. the end almost seems cruel from a certain perspective and yet, ultimately, all was well.


i’d like to believe they are still here, with us. recently i’ve willingly dismantled all my old beliefs and i dont currently know what to believe. ive even been open to the possibility of nothingness after death. nothingness before death as well - and even during life. in my heart, what do i feel? in my heart i totally believe in a continuity - because i believe that the form, the physical self is only a very small part of this whole that we are. we’re just a speck of dust when compared to the vastness of our true self; our true nature. does that true nature continue in an individualised fashion? I’d have to say YES. I know in my heart that my grandparents are still here. still alive. in fact, more alive than ever. the form can only express a limited aspect of our true nature, very limited, and as the form gradually dissolves that expression becomes narrower and narrower, until it's just like a very faint, intermittent trickle of water; the water being reflective of our essential nature or spirit.


I remember once sitting looking at a painting in a glass frame. In the glass I could see a reflection of the neighbours outside; I saw their car pulling into the drive and them getting out and unloading shopping bags from the boot, before going inside. It was all there, reflected in the painting. I'll never forget the dawning realisation that crept up on me as I observed this. It made me feel that this is perhaps all that our phenomenal world is; a reflected image of something on a transparent medium - an illusion, a pale reflection of something that’s actually happening elsewhere. you might look at the picture and the reflection that was happening in it and see it as the whole truth, the whole reality - but in truth, it was but a reflection of something infinitely greater. the small, limited human mind might zero in on the reflection and think it is the whole truth; but in reality, it's just an illusion and there's a whole universe beyond that phenomenal apparition....a universe that's quite beyond the capacity of our minds to even begin to imagine. this, THIS - all of it, all of phenomenal ‘reality’ is just a pale reflection of an infinitely greater reality.


So my grandparents...they've stepped out of my perceived reflection of reality for now, and yet I still feel them, very close. in some ways i often feel them as more a part of my life now than they ever were and thats rather strange, but nonetheless true. before they were separated by space and time, but now i feel those boundaries are gone - and it’s like they are linked with me even more closely. My Grandad was a gentle, unassuming presence so i ‘feel’ him quite subtly, but my Granny was a force of nature; a strong, dominant, loving and vivacious personality and i feel her very strongly; it’s almost as though i can sense her sharing opinions, and comments and laughter, as well as love and support.


phenomenal reality is a strange thing. outwardly, in the world of form i see so much loss - the loss of my grandparents, of much the rest of my extended family, of friends and health and an ‘outer life’, i can see the encroachment of aging as a reminder of the impermanence of this always-terminal condition we call 'life' - in others and even in myself. i watch as a flower i pick from the garden, radiant with beauty and the lustrousness of life gradually crumples and dissolves into a dry, lifeless husk.


and its ok. waves come and then they dissolve back into the ocean. can i be at peace with it? Well, why not? Would you want the waves to be any other way? they are as they are. we are as we are. life is as it is. flow with it, let it be, let yourself ‘be lived by life’ rather than thinking that we have to be in the pilot seat and ‘live life’ (the ultimate ego delusion and yet so so pervasive and convincing at times!). sitting in the garden, surrounded by a slowly blossoming tree, shrubs and plants bursting into life with fresh, vibrant green; cloudless blue skies, radiant sunshine, a gentle breeze rippling so delicately through the leaves and grass and all the various birds going about their business, singing so sweetly just because that’s what they do...it’s life.


Imagine if a bird developed an ego and got the notion that it ‘had a life’, with things to do, achievements to gain, plans to make and appearances to keep; I guess there’s nothing you could do to convince that bird that all of that mindstuff was ultimately a fabrication. The birds don’t ‘have’ a life any more than the blades of grass - or in fact, us. That would be a mental conceptualisation. Ultimately, we just ARE life; life living itself. If we could really get back in tune with nature (of which we are really a part) then we’d see that it’s pointing us the way back to wholeness, peace, purpose and unity: just BE as you are. Let your true nature emerge and be at one with life; you don’t ‘have’ a life...you are life.

2 comments:

Weston Elliott said...

"you don’t ‘have’ a life...you are life."Beautifully put!

I truly believe that there is life after death, that we continue on-as ourselves- to something greater when we leave this earth. Anything else is illogical to me.

I lost my dad when I was 18. And yet, I know he has been near me at important times in my life since then. Just because I can't see him doesn't mean he isn't there.

"Ever seen a million dollars?" to quote a favorite movie. "Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it isn't real." (10 points if you can name the show!)

I have to believe there is something greater than us, some plan greater than 100 years on this earth before dissolving into nothingness. If there is nothing else, what's the point?

Rory said...

Thanks for your comments Weston, I was really touched by them and they resonate as true for me. I've always felt there must be a continuity of life; life springs from the formless and then returns to the formless; but that part of us (consciousness, perhaps!) which is still linked to our formless origin was never truly born and thus can never die. People often think that the opposite of life is death; but death is merely the opposite of birth. Life has no opposite!

I think it's wonderful that you can feel your dad near you; I think that these feelings of experiencing the closeness of passed on loved ones might be more real than we can imagine; a piercing of the veil. The more I think about it (or not even so much think about it, because it goes beyond mind) the more I can sense or begin to imagine a whole other universe of which ours is just a little pocket, into which souls do 'deep sea diving' before returning to the surface to get back to their 'real lives'. Sometimes life does feel like being immersed in water, buffeted about and sometimes scary and aimless-but at some point we'll return to the surface and get back to dry land...