Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!
According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, when we die, our consciousness separates from the body to take its journey through a series of bardos where it must face challenges that will determine its future evolution. The most desirable outcome right after death is to become enlightened, to be able to hold onto the true nature of reality as our consciousness encounters the light. This requires a willingness to let go of all one has cherished and attached to in this life, accepting the utter irrelevance of all that seemed so relevant but a moment ago, fully shedding ego attachments and ego itself, acquiescing instead to the full truth and nature of reality without a spin. In The Book of Us Jeanne describes her experience of this moment as follows: “I took off like a shot, a loud rush, an explosion out of my body, as fast as I could ever imagine, not wanting or needing to stay any longer, aware that it wasn’t ever going to be the same, that that life on earth was done, that the new life wanted to begin. I died as I was born, rushing into the world, out of one into the next, not missing anything as I went, not wanting anything, except to get where I was going so I could see what it was like there.”
According to the Buddhists, if one is not ready to relinquish attachment to this world at the beginning of the journey after death, then the potential for enlightenment is lost for this round; one reenters the spinning of consciousness, as the mind starts to project its wants and fears, leading to attachments and the re-crystallization of consciousness as we prepare to reincarnate in this world. Jeanne’s description of her awareness, moments after death, reflects the necessary detachment to transcend reincarnation and continue to evolve beyond this world. Buddhists spend their lives preparing their consciousness for this moment of decision, to have the clarity to choose enlightenment. This is what the shamans call, embarking upon the definitive journey of awareness.
In the West, we spend most of our lives and technology manifesting a world of eternal youth; almost no attention is paid to what really matters: our moment of death. Compared to the Buddhists, stated bluntly, our spiritual maturity is somewhere in the stone age. Not that I suggest that we sell our homes and dedicate our lives to saving Tibet. Even the Dalai Lama appreciates that the Tibetan diaspora is part of an evolution of an interdependent one-world that must integrate the findings and awareness of its formerly isolated parts to advance in maturity. How does this ancient wisdom apply to our modern world? How can we use this knowledge to better prepare ourselves to greet our deaths?
The Buddhist knowledge of the encounters that consciousness faces upon dying elucidates the core projective nature of the mind and the challenge to not attach to its familiar comforts and fears. Jeanne describes her experience of this encounter as follows: “There is a great gate, wide and high, majestic, the entrance into the unknown, the unknowable, which few choose. There is another path, and another gate also, which many choose because it is the way where everything is seen and explained and there is little to challenge. The other gate is expansive and opens up other worlds and other possibilities.” Here Jeanne is describing the choice one is faced with upon dying. Do we choose the evolutionary gate, which sends our consciousness on an evolutionary journey into the unknown or do we cling to the known and familiar, allowing the mind to project and place us back in a familiar world? Understanding that the reality we currently live in is but a spin of this projective mind that has crystallized into the solid world we live in affords us an opportunity to practice making choices that reflect the true nature of reality while still in this world. This practice prepares us to choose the less chosen gate when we embark on our definitive journey at death.
We have discussed many faces of projection over the past several weeks. Refusing the compelling projective spin we are daily drawn to by withdrawing our projections and owning the true nature of our personal reality offers an ongoing practice of preparation for the moment of death. Through this process we exercise the choice of “enlightenment” in our daily lives over the comforts of our minds’ projective illusions. Ultimately, this is the practice of detachment: choosing to not attach to the spinning illusions constantly conjured by the projective mind. Take worry, for example. Worry is nothing other than the spinning of empty imaginings by the mind manifesting its fears in a series of imagined stories. If we attach to the story we are then tormented, and we suffer, as our energy is depleted and we stay entrenched in illusion. Practice instead, staying in the moment. How do you stay in the moment? Focus on your heart center. Is your equilibrium being rocked through reaction to the mind’s conjuring? Focus also on the synchronicities of the moment. What are the signs suggesting? Is there true cause for concern or, again, are you being duped by the restless conjuring mind? Refuse the products of worry, state the intent: don’t attach! Focus awareness on what actually presents in the moment, meet it fully, then relinquish it, equally as fully, as you prepare your awareness to greet oncoming time and what comes next. These practices strengthen fluidity and non-attachment, which prepare us for our moment of death and decision.
As always, I am open to discussion or comment. Should anyone wish to write, I can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until we meet again,