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Going Deeper part 19
Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited to bring clarification to certain points of the dialogue and for easier readability. For this reason, it does not match the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word. However, the overall content and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.
Part 1 What is death?
Participant: Good Morning.
Speaker: Good Morning.
Participant: Our last dialogue began with me asking the question or asking you to address the illusion of sickness and since so often it seems that the word sickness and death are joined in the same sentence. I wanted to go into a dialogue about that. So, starting off with the question, what is death?
Speaker: What is death? Well, once again, maybe this time we’ll start off with a bit of what the common usage of the word is in the world which would be death of a body normally. Whether we’re talking about the death of a spouse, a friend, a loved one, a pet, animals, organic life, and so on and so forth, death is seen to be in the world again. Something is happening, something that was animated and seemed to be full of movement and life energy seems to suddenly be stagnant and still and…
Participant: the breath has left…
Speaker: yes, the breath has left and…
Participant: the heart is no longer beating…
Speaker: The heart is no longer beating or we use more modern definitions, the brain waves have stopped and so on and so forth, that would go into definitions. And, once again, if we define anything in the world we’ve defined a problem, if death is perceived as a problem. Like, people say, “I don’t want to die, I want to live.” “doctors save lives” and all these things. When we define death as in the world, obviously we have defined life as being in the world and we’re back to the duality that death is the opposite of life. And, really you can’t go very far with that. I mean you can come up with all kind of constructs talking about after-life, what happens after the body dies. You can come up with all kinds of concepts, perhaps re-incarnation, and what the soul does, and the soul comes in and the soul goes out and so on and so forth but really you’re still just playing around with a bunch of concepts and you’re still trying to define death and life as being in the world. When, as we’ve discussed, the world is just a screen, the world is just a projection, the world is a screen in which meanings get read onto it. So, in the ultimate sense, although this runs against the common experience, the body is not born, the body does not die, the body is not sick, the body is not well. We’ve talked about sickness and health, that these are meanings that are read onto the images of the world. If the world is seen as nothing more than dancing shadows then these shadows are given labels and names and meanings and this is given meaning from the mind. So we really need to pull the discussion of death back to a larger context or to talk about it in the big picture. And, in that sense, with your question, “What is death?” I’d like to just turn back to ACIM and just use a couple of paragraphs as a springboard for our discussion because we’ve been talking about this world as a projection or an hallucination or a dream world and we need to pull the discussion of death back to a deeper level. It’s page 63 in the 1st Edition of ACIM in the Teacher’s Manual.
“What Is Death.
Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end? We have asked this question before, but now we need to consider it more carefully. It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. This is regarded as “the way of nature,” not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the “natural” law of life. The cyclical, the changing and unsure; the undependable and the unsteady, waxing and waning in a certain way upon a certain path, - all this is taken as the Will of God and no one asks if a benign Creator could will this.
In this perception of the universe as God created, it would be impossible to think of Him as loving. For who has decreed that all things pass away, ending in dust and disappointment and despair, can but be feared. He holds your little life in his hand but by a thread, ready to break it off without regret or care, perhaps today. Or if he waits, yet is the ending certain. Who loves such a god knows not of love, because he has denied that life is real. Death has become life’s symbol. His world is now a battleground, where contradiction reigns and opposites make endless war. Where there is death is peace impossible.”
And then if we just turn the page for a line on page 64. At the top of the page it starts, “The “reality” of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s Son is a body. And if God created bodies, death would indeed be real. But God would not be loving.”
So, we get back to our belief in the body which is just a fragmentation of the belief that separation is possible. This belief in time and space, which makes distance whether in a time sense or a spatial sense possible and bodies and matter and the fragmentation just continues on and on and on. So the perception is very twisted and in the twisted perception, I mean, that is death. To have a twisted perception or to have an idea or a belief in mind that is held, and given a reality that God did not create, is death. So, it is only by waking up, it is only by looking at the ego and seeing it’s unreality, that death can be given up.
Now, another way we can come at it is from a more of an emotional approach in the sense that, this can still seem kind of abstract. It’s like, ok, this is very abstract to me. I have a sense of watching bodies die and animals die and so on and so forth, and that death, that definition is something that I’ve known for a long time. But this sense of a dream world and this sense of the ego and my mind still seems rather hazy.
Well another way of really simplifying it is to bring it down to emotion or feeling. How do I feel? And in that sense the Course simplifies things again by saying that you have but two emotions. One is love and one is fear. Love is, of course, a result, or it’s an emotion that comes from choosing to align with or choosing with the Holy Spirit. And fear, is an emotion that comes from choosing with the ego. So, whenever the mind aligns with one or the other, the emotion that is produced is love or fear, which really simplifies it. So we can talk about peace and contentedness and happiness and joy and so forth but those in a sense are all attributes or off shoots of love. And, we could talk about hatred and anger and jealousy and depression and all kinds of discomfort and upset and basically all those are just off shoots of the emotion of fear. So, from this definition, obviously when one is feeling fear or any of its derivatives this is death, this is an indicator that the mind has chosen death. And when one is very peaceful, very content, in a state of joy and is feeling very connected and everything, this is a state of love and the mind has chosen the miracle. It’s in its right mind and therefore it has chosen life. A miracle is in a sense, a reflection of life, because in the ultimate sense, when we speak of Life, with a capital ‘L’, we are speaking of Knowledge again or the Kingdom of Heaven which again is purely abstract, infinite, eternal. It has nothing to do with time and space and bodies at all. So, in that sense, the miracle is like a reflection of Life. So this brings it down to a decision and it’s a decision that you can tell that you’re making one way or the other based on how one feels.
Participant: So death, in terms of that definition, is really not an ending or a change at all as we have usually thought of death in terms of death of the body?
Speaker: Yes, in a sense, death is a change from the state of Life. I mean, it simplifies it that there is just life and death and when one is upset mildly annoyed, a tiny bit frustrated or angry, raging, depressed, then the mind has chosen death. Regardless of the form of upset, it’s a decision for death, it’s in a sense like a hell on earth in the sense that the mind is in a state of fear.
Participant: So, just as health and sickness are a state of mind, death and life are a state of mind?
Participant: It has nothing to do with the body or the world or anything outside my mind?
Speaker: Yes, in a sense if we bring it back to the ultimate metaphysics too; that’s why the bible and the Course say that there is no death, because, what God created is really all that exists and so the hallucination of fear, the hallucination of pain, the hallucination of any form of upset is a miscreation or a fantasy or a fictitious made-up experience, you could call it. That, to a mind that’s dreaming, to a mind that’s sleeping it seems very real, you know. It’s been chosen, it’s been believed in and so to it, it seems very real. So we are not trying to dismiss those feelings just as hallucinations or something because everyone of us who have come to this planet or anyone who perceives himself in this world has had those experiences. It’s just that the Course is giving us a sense that there is something beyond these experiences. That these are not states of mind that come from God. That God did not create fear or so on and so forth.
Participant: Talk about the commonly held belief that, when the body dies and speaking of death in that framework, that when the body dies, you know, the mind wakes up or Heaven is there or however you want to talk about it. That’s when eternal peace is mine and of course, in the context of what you’ve just said, that makes no sense what so ever. I mean it doesn’t follow that that’s the case.
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