“Well, I guess we won’t see Grandpa anymore,” my little nephew said a few days after my Dad died on January 25th…
Dear living, breathing, reading humans,
As my nephew so aptly put it, once someone dies we no longer see them in the physical world… but I am still hoping to “see” my Dad with my spiritual eyes, to somehow feel the presence of his spirit… And this desire (as described in my previous post “Be With Me”) has me searching for the truth about what happens after we die… Thus I am writing these musings from the bird’s nest in my treehouse temple on this rainy morning…
No one really knows what happens after we die… And yet, many have made claims to know! Do you have a sense, strong or subtle, about the afterlife?
At different times in my life, I thought that I knew what happens after we die, but now I’m sitting in the “don’t know mind” exploring what others believe and watching myself for thoughts or feelings of resonance… For example, recently I shared with an older woman that my Dad had been showing signs of mental decline; he was having a hard time tracking things. I wondered if perhaps he was developing Alzheimer’s, which his mother had died from. Her answer: some people say that the soul decides when to go, so if my Dad was developing Alzheimer’s, then on some level he may have decided to spare himself and his family of that very painful way to die, and so that’s why he died the way he died, unable to recover from double bypass surgery.
Perhaps. But I’m not so sure we humans have that much power over fate or destiny… But then I muse, what is fate? What is destiny? What the *bleep* is this whole experience on planet Earth really about? Why are we here???
I tend to resonate the most with what Swami Muktananda wrote in his book, Does Death Really Exist? Maybe this seems like truth because it brings the most comfort: “It does not come early and it does not come late. The moment of departure is set at the time of birth, and it does not change by even a minute. Death is the one thing in this world that is always on time.”
I used to wholeheartedly believe those words, and I still find them to be very calming. If those words are true, then my Dad had to die exactly when he died, because that moment was already set when he was born. On this musing, I enjoy a Star Wars image that brings me peace: my Dad had to die when he died because it was time for him to join the Force!
And then there are the teachings of the Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who says that there is “no birth, no death.” In his book, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, he writes, “When you lose a loved one, you suffer. But if you know how to look deeply, you have a chance to realize that his or her nature is truly the nature of no-birth, no-death…. You have to be alert to recognize the new manifestations of one person. But with practice and effort, you can do it. Pay attention to the world around you, to the leaves and the flowers, to the birds and the rain. If you can stop and look deeply, you will recognize your beloved manifesting again and again in many forms. You will release your fear and pain and again embrace the joy of life.”
Well, that sounds nice, but honestly, I’m not feeling it. In some ways and in some moments, I have to admit that I can be more of a realist like my Dad. The reality is, my Dad was born of a human mother, and now he is no longer here in the physical realm. So, there was birth and death!! And even if I can figure out how to train myself to see his essence in the birds and rain, that does not take away the pain of never being able to talk to him again here in the physical realm.
My last musing for this post is about near-death experiences (NDEs). The majority of stories from people who have almost died are so similar. Most see a tunnel or a light and feel a presence that they are drawn to, but then they “decide” to come back and live longer on Earth. And, after their NDEs, they claim to live more peacefully, with no fear of death. Years ago, when I first read those accounts, I felt so peaceful about Whatever Is Next…
But, I recently read how science explains the NDEs: As the physical body is dying, the brain secretes chemicals that create pleasant hallucinations… If that is true, then those stories don’t really offer us beautiful spiritual information about the afterlife, but rather they show us a phenomenal capacity of the human brain.
What do you think of all these musings? What do you believe? What resonates as truth for you?
With curiosity and high vibes,
Photo by Kaz (Karen Arnold) on Pixabay.