Huh? Well that’s impossible. No one has ever done it!
Or have they?
When you look at death as being an experience of this earthly existence, then it does have a finality about it that’s hard to argue against. Of course there are options, many of which are presented by various depictions of “Afterlife”. My problem with that concept though is it sets the earthly existence up as the foundation to that experience, but doesn’t really account for what was before we arrived here.
There’s a lot of focus on ‘winning’ life through Good Deeds and specifically embraced Beliefs with the end prize being welcomed into some sort of floating earthly “Paradise”. Sometimes there are aspects to those Promises that don’t seem so wonderful for other “Winners”. I’m thinking of the virgins included in some Muslim Rewards. Earthly artifacts of thinking permeate a lot of these concepts in what to me are very incomplete and limiting ways. On the one hand, I get it – right now we are of the Earth and it’s hard to see past what we have come to Know as the day to day so we try to extend this experience to something Greater. But I think we fail when we do that.
But I have begun to think that every night when we fall asleep, we are practicing going “back” to were we’re from. We literally Dream up entire new lands – we fly, people pop in and out The “Laws” of physics don’t seem to necessarily apply in our Dreams. New sounds exist there, new colors. Fanciful architecture, animals, experiences are conjured up and we make our way through them without question.
We come here – are born to earth – I think, to limit our palette. To ride the material through our choices and challenges. And then we go home to more colors and levels of knowing than we have been able to even imagine in this form as we step off the roller coaster and re-enter the realm our dreams hint awaits us. But love beams shine like stars there.
When we die – and begin physically disassemble, it’s really only as though we’re stepping off the roller coaster that this life was and re-enter the amusement park at large, which itself is just a part of that Other experience which also has ball games, ballets and buffets to attend. And. And. And.
Feelings of nostalgia surround the death experience. When people die, we miss them, sometimes terribly so. The same thing happens when any being we have loved dies. The same thing happens when experiences end. We miss the good ol’ days. We wish we could pick up the phone and call our mothers. We’d like to take another walk in the park with our loyal pooch ch who has passed. People who celebrate Dia de los Muertos have a pretty neat solution to the address these very feelings.
Day of the Dead
When I moved to Mexico I was hoping to let the festivities of the Day of the Dead start infusing my thoughts on this topic and lend additional comprehension, or at least reframe some of the preconceived thoughts I had on the topic. This is happening.
I love the idea of throwing a party for the recently deceased in the cemetery where their body was placed complete with favored snacks, music and symbols of the things they loved while here on Earth. There’s a practical acknowledgement of the entropy of the body through the liberal use of the more enduring of our bits – the skeleton. Back in the states, skeletons are generally used as a fearsome object – but in Mexico they’re more just the leftovers that still have a hankerin’ to party.
“To the people of New York, Paris, or London, “death” is a word that is never pronounced because it burns the lips. The Mexican, however, frequents it, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and most steadfast love. Of course, in his attitude perhaps there is as much fear as there is in one of the others; at least he does not hide it; he confronts it face to face with patience, disdain, or irony.” –Octavio Paz.
People create altars in their homes featuring photos, personal items and favorite foods of their deceased loved ones. They decorate their graves and in many places hold a festive vigil on behalf of their memories of this person right in the very cemetery in which they’re buried. People adorn their faces with make up meant to suggest the skull within – our bones being what endures in the physical after we die. These aren’t meant to be scary images so much as a practical consideration of the current state of the loved one.
This year I plan to build another ‘ofrenda’ (altar of memories of those past) and attending some of the events planned in the city center including having a drawing I made projected along with many other images on a giant skull (left)! This image is available on wearables in this link.
Below is a video I made of the events last year.
Let’s End With Questions
There are only four questions of value in life, Don Octavio (Author: “Don Juan”). Often attributed to the ever-adorbs Johnny Depp because he played Don Juan in a movie.
- What is sacred?
- Of what is the spirit made?
- What is worth living for, and
- What is worth dying for?
The answer to each is the same: only love.
Nah, Instead Let’s End With Love
When I consider death and dying, the topic brings up elemental aspects of living. These tend to focus on the foundational WHY Question: “Why are we here?” Many spiritual practices answer this question with discussions on Love. We’re here to Love. And what is that? What is love?
Enduring feelings of connection of limitless strength and definition. This sort of thing doesn’t die, can not die. Once its energy, its intention is sent out, it inevitably becomes a permanent part of the known world. Fear dissipates, but love endures.