Chapter 8

Are You Ready to Choose Life Instead of Death?

The way to immortality is through the removal of immorality.
                                                                                                Sai Baba

Buddha Overcomes Sickness, Old Age, And Death

At the time of Siddhartha’s birth, a local astrologer was summoned. The astrologer told his father, the king, that the boy was slated to be either heir to the throne or a great saint. As the king expressed a hope that his son follow in his footsteps and carry on the royal line, the astrologer advised him to keep the boy within the protective confines of the palace courtyard. If the boy were to witness any sickness, old age or death he would be driven to find the deeper meaning to life. As long as he was protected, the king stood a good chance that his son would follow in his footsteps and become a great king. So little Siddhartha led an enchanted, sheltered life and was very happy.

He was oblivious to any and all misfortune in the form of sickness, suffering, old age or death, until one day he experienced a restlessness. He asked his friend, Chana, to accompany him into the larger township. When his father heard of their plans he ordered the streets to be cleared of all sights that his son should not see. So they had a wonderful adventure and only on the way back to the palace did they happen to spot a man being carried off on a stretcher. “Chana, what is that?” Siddhartha asked in surprise. Chana told his friend that the man was sick. At Siddhartha’s insistence, Chana explained what sickness was and the pain associated with bodily illness. Siddhartha was deeply moved with compassion and could not sleep that night. He had no idea that there was such a thing as suffering.

Next day he wanted to go out with his friend again. The streets were again cleared of all undesirable sights. Again they spent the day viewing only uplifting scenes. Yet, as fate would have it, as they were returning to the palace they happened to notice someone who looked very frail. He had white hair. He could not move well. He needed help to cross the street. Siddhartha again asked Chana to explain. Chana told Siddhartha that he was seeing old age and that old age was inevitable. His parents too would get old with time. That night again Siddhartha could not sleep. He could not understand this idea of old age. It made no sense at all.

The following day, compelled by astonishment and curiosity, he again encouraged Chana to accompany him into the larger township. This time they witnessed a strange and shocking site - a procession of mourners carrying a dead body to a crematorium. Siddhartha was beside himself. He had no idea that death was everyone’s final destiny. He went home and locked himself in his room and could not be consoled. After much time, again he wanted to go out with Chana and again they wandered the township together, but this time they continued into the forest glade beyond. There, Siddhartha saw a radiant face as he had not seen in his father’s entire kingdom. He had met an awakened sage, someone who had renounced the world and discovered the deeper meaning of life.

Siddhartha wanted to know if this man had understood the purpose of sickness, suffering and death. The enlightened sage shook with laughter. It was obvious that he did not think they were a problem. Siddhartha was thus inspired to turn away from the kingdom and sit under the Boddhi tree until he understood. Being a great soul, he was not prepared to merely accept sickness, suffering, old age and death as inevitable. Thus he became the great compassionate Buddha. Today Buddhism continues to flourish and promulgate the deepest compassion for the suffering of all humanity. Buddha showed that sickness, old age and death, were not to be feared, nor merely accepted, but rather looked at. In looking, the Buddha awakened to the truth that he could not die.

Death Is A Choice

Death is feared and dreaded, yet accepted as inevitable. It is never the topic of conversation because always ‘more pleasant and uplifting’ subjects ought to be discussed. What if death were not real? What if looking at it would cause it to disappear? Our unwillingness to look at death and our acceptance of it as inevitable are what keep it in place. Death is a choice. No one can die unless he chooses death. There is no one outside of you more powerful than you causing you to get old and die. All forms of sickness unto death are physical expressions of the fear of waking up.

What seems to be fear of death is really its attraction. We think we fear death, but we really fear eternal life, otherwise we simply would not choose death. Fearing salvation, we welcome death. The Buddha had no fear and thus experienced his enlightenment and was restored to eternal life. Death is an attempt at escape from life, but we are immortal. We are as we were created. Though that is so, whatever we accept into ours minds has reality for us. Acceptance makes the unreal seem real. The Buddha woke up because he did not accept sickness, suffering and death as real. He wanted to understand the truth behind the idea of death. Death is real for us only as long as we believe in it.

 

Overcoming Death Through Passion For God

Death is a thought that we could be separate from our Creator. Separation is impossible and thus death also is impossible. Death can be overcome through love for God. In sixteenth century India, a family man, Tukaram, worked very hard and yet was extremely poor. He didn’t seem to mind at all. He was always thinking of God, talking to Him and seeing Him in everyone he met and in everything that happened to him. He found God to be everywhere and in all things. He loved God with a passion. His wife however was very impatient with him. She found him much too intoxicated with his love for God. She scolded him incessantly and gave him a hard time. He was not troubled. He saw God in her too.

And when God told him that He would be coming in a chariot to take him home, he invited her to join him. She didn’t believe him and ridiculed him, but God did send His chariot and Tukaram did ascend to heaven without experiencing death. Passionate love for God overcame death. Tukaram proved for all humanity that death is not real and that you are not mandated to die. You are not separate from your Creator and your oneness is realized in your total love for God. That love conquers even death. Baba says, “Always remember God, forget the world, never fear death.” I think Tukaram did exactly that and thereby was victorious over death.

Savitri’s Deathless Love

There is another great favorite among the East Indian classics of how love overcomes death. It is the story of the love of a woman, a true princess, for her husband, a worthy and noble prince. Long ago, the Goddess of the sun, Goddess Savitri descended to earth as a princess to the great Monarch Aswapati. He was a pious king who, after long and severe penance and austerities for an heir to the throne, was graced with a delightful princess. When she came of age the monarch implored her to find a husband worthy of her noble hand. He sent her to search in all the kingdoms far and wide. She spent her search in hermitages and immersed herself in the teachings of the great wise ones.

Upon her return, Sage Narada, a renowned seer was at the king’s table. Savitri greeted both and at her father’s bidding blushed her choice. Sathyavan, the Soul of Truth, of royal descent, was selected her lord and husband. His father, though kingly still, was blind and had been forced from his kingdom. He and his virtuous queen had raised their child in the forest and there Savitri met Satyavan. Sage Narada, turning ashen, reluctantly disclosed a grim foreboding, “This prince is slated to die in one year.” Upon hearing impending doom, Monarch Aswapati urged his daughter to choose again. Trembling, Savitri stood firm in her choice, asserting that a pure woman only chooses a husband once, whether his life be short or long.

So they married and she went to live in the forest and care for Satyavan’s blind parents while daily he went out to gather the necessary food and firewood. The dread of impending doom perpetually cast its shadow over Savitri’s gentle form. Too quickly, the year was spent and only three days remained. She took to severe fasting and prayer. The dreaded day arrived. On that most unwelcome morning Savitri asked if she could follow her beloved Satyavan into the forest. With ax propped upon his handsome shoulder, they wandered off. Soon he felt an ache, a piercing and a throbbing in his head and beads of sweat burst upon his brow. He laid his head upon mortified Savitri’s soft and tender lap. She clasped him to her bosom and fervently kissed his lips and as she held him helplessly, he slept the sleep of death.

Lord Yama, Monarch of the dead, came to take his own. Savitri’s pure and stoic love for husband permitted her to see the Lord’s terrible form. As he took Satyavan’s noble soul in his noose, Savitri got up to follow. Yama urged her to turn back, but her love was too strong and she followed where he took her husband’s life, though where they went mere mortals cannot go. Her love was deathless and Lord Yama had not the power to turn her back. He could not divide loving man and faithful wife. He had no choice but to give Sathyavan back his life. Savitri returned to where he lay and her tender caresses thrilled him back to life. Death cannot separate true love from true love. Such love must give back life. Death was not possible because death is a thought that you can be separated from the ones you love and when your love is as strong and pure as Savitri’s for Satyavan, it is more powerful than death.

Death Is A Joke We Play On Ourselves

We were created immortal. We are alive and will live forever. We were created to have life without opposite. Death is not real. Alexander the Great had set out to conquer the world. He was about to invade India and had sent ahead a troop of scouts.  As his men pushed into Kashmir they came upon a yogi sitting in the middle of the road. Gruffly they told him to get out of the way or they would send his head rolling. He laughed heartily. They were mystified and brought Alexander to witness this strange behavior. When the yogi was asked why he was laughing when his life was being threatened, he shook with laughter and said, “You think you can kill me by cutting off my head. You cannot kill me, for I am immortal. Therefore I am laughing.” Alexander marveled at his fearlessness and retreated. Thus India was not invaded because of its sages who knew the truth about life without opposite.

Death is our final proof to ourselves that God is dead. That is subconsciously what we are convincing ourselves of by dying. We are attempting to prove to ourselves that God is mortal. You are probably already sensing who is behind that preposterous idea – it is ego. It is impossible for God to die as He is immortal, and as He only creates like Himself, so are you immortal. Death is impossible. Your body may die, but you are not your body. Many people have had experiences of meeting their loved ones who have gone to the other side. I’ve had a number of dreams in which ‘dead’ loved ones made contact with me. God did not create fleshly forms as He only creates what lasts forever like Himself. It is possible that we exit our bodies consciously, or that our bodies be transfigured into light. Jesus overcame death through resurrection. Everything is possible as long as we do not limit what is possible to our experience or to what we have witnessed with our own eyes.

One example to illustrate other choices is of a lad who was separated from his parents and sold as a slave to a very wealthy yet kind man in South India. The young boy ran away and undertook rigorous spiritual practices from the tender age of five. A realized saint discovered and guided him. Because he did not have parents discouraging him from his determination, he underwent the necessary changes to his body before the age of 20 to convert it into a light body. To this day he is known as the immortal Baba-ji and has lived for over 3000 years in the Himalayas. He appeared to Jesus, Mohamed and many other spiritual leaders, and guided them in their awakenings. He has guided many spiritual aspirants, among them the beloved Yogananda who came to reside in the Los Angeles area in the last century. Baba-ji proved that it is possible to transform your body from a fleshly form into a deathless light body.

It is also possible to leave your body consciously. I visited Ramana Maharshi’s ashram on Arunachala Mountain in the early nineties and sat in the Virupaksha Cave where he had attained enlightenment. In the twelfth century a sage had inhabited that very cave long before Ramana. One day the sage told his disciples to leave him and come back shortly. They did as they were told and when they reentered the cave, all that was left of their beloved teacher was a heap of ashes. There is only one entry to the cave and they were standing by it. The ashes were embalmed and were still being held sacred when I sat there.

The cave had a powerful timelessness about it. I would enter at 8:00 in the morning and come out at 4:00 in the afternoon and it would seem as though I had just arrived. The power in that cave transported me into timelessness. When the yogi finished his task, he consciously left his body without being a burden to anyone. This is a very common practice for saints and sages in India. Death is a choice. It can be a conscious choice. Enlightened beings leave their bodies just like one would shed a garment that he no longer wishes to wear – no fuss, sickness, suffering or aging. Their graceful exits are living proof that death is not real.

Ramana Maharshi underwent a death experience as a lad of 16. He felt his body entering rigor mortise and simply lay down and let himself undergo the experience of death. When his body literally died he discovered that he did not die and in this way he too realized his deathlessness. That realization inspired him to leave home and to become fully enlightened.

Death is the opposite of life, but life has no opposite. We simply cannot die. Death is an attempt at escaping life. It will never work, for we were created to live forever. How is that possible when we see death all around us? Only that which is not real undergoes death. Your body is not real. Even if it dies, you live forever. Plants, animals and everything we see have the mark of death upon them, but that is not proof that death is real. If we conclude that death is real it is only that we trust our senses, which are not necessarily reliable witnesses to ultimate truth. Two people witnessing the same incident will invariably see it totally differently. Two people hearing the same words will frequently draw different conclusions from what they hear. Your senses are limited in their ability to witness to truth, and are thus unreliable. That is because they are not real. Just because you see death doesn’t make it true. We have the power to heal the sick and raise the dead because we made sickness and death and they can be overcome when we stop making them real for us. When you truly love yourself, you see the senselessness of death.

Reincarnation Is A Relative Truth

There are numerous stories to substantiate the idea of reincarnation. Reincarnation means that you die and then are born again, which basically says that you didn’t die, but only shed one body to don another. It does not matter whether you believe in reincarnation or not, because it is not ultimate truth, even if it is what we do when we die, if we have not awakened to the truth. If death is not real and if bodies are not real, then can you see how reincarnation also is not real? It is however possible on the level of form. It helps me to understand better why I see the world the way I do. I see only this life, but what is playing out in this life is the effect or result of actions from previous lives. This helps explain how it is possible for innocent children to be starving to death or so many other things that seem so unjust. We only see the present, not the past or future.

It also explains why one might find himself a genius in a particular field, like Mozart in the field of music or Einstein in the arena of mathematics. We simply do not know the past or future lives surrounding the little that we see. This is in no way an excuse to keep from acting toward the betterment of everyone’s lot. Though they may be reaping the negative consequences of previous lives, they were never guilty and do not deserve pain and suffering no matter what their past. Our assignment is to do what we can in the service of all humanity at every opportunity. It is not essential to believe in reincarnation because it is a relative truth and not ultimate truth. God’s creation does not experience reincarnation. Only the unreal can die and be reborn. There is however plenty of convincing evidence for reincarnation on the level of form. It is very much part of the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions.

The movie Ground Hog Day is a wonderful portrayal of what it is to live forever through the idea of repeating the same day over and over again. A news reporter, who woke up every morning reliving the same day finally started to catch on that he could make it hell or heaven.  When he mastered loving kindness, he got to move on to the next day. This movie is a brilliant metaphor for reincarnation. You keep coming back lifetime after lifetime until you get it right, until you are an embodiment of what your Creator created you to be – perfect love, and then you graduate or wake up.

Reincarnation helps in understanding the idea of karma. If someone does something harmful in this life and seems to get away with it, we would say there is no justice in the world, but we do not know his future. We do not know what results are still to come for his wrongs or omissions. There is also the question of the innocent person who seems to be unfairly treated. We do not see his past, thus do not know if he is not simply balancing the scales for some uncorrected error of a previous life. There are no victims. There are no accidents. Your mind is all-powerful and everything that happens to you, you have asked for and receive as you have asked. Everyone does receive the results of his own mind and since all of time is going on all the time, consequences could happen at any moment, whether in this life or in one’s next incarnation.

Birth and death are unreal and so is reincarnation. Karma too is unreal. But in order to close the gap between the truth and our experience we have to have the bigger sense of the illusion so we can understand how to negotiate it safely. In other words reincarnation and karma are relative truths, not ultimate truths because we are only bound by them as long as we choose to be. All you have to do is make a tiny shift in consciousness, and karma is collapsed in its entirety. All you have to do is make a tiny shift in consciousness and you will never be reborn. All you have to do is make a tiny shift in consciousness and you will never again experience death. That tiny shift is a shift from body-consciousness to God-consciousness.

If death were a viable alternative to life, we would have destroyed ourselves long ago. Death is not possible. God did not will the destruction of His creations, having created them for all eternity. Baba says what fuels the cycle of birth and death is desire. Whatever we want is what we will experience. If we want the things of the world, the glamour, the pleasures, the temptations, the tinsel, the fame and the fortune, then that will draw us back into birth again and again, until we decide we would like a different purpose, a real purpose. Then we will set for ourselves a goal that is really legitimate, like waking up, finding out who we are, finding out if life is really only to end in death. Then we start to open ourselves to a more meaningful existence.

No one created by God can find joy in anything except the eternal. That is not because he is deprived of anything else, but because nothing else is worthy of him. We were willing to accept even death to deny our Creator, but He would not have it so and so it is not so. Death yields to life, simply because destruction is not true.

We made death the final purpose for everything, so then all must die unless given another purpose. You can change your mind. You can overcome death. Death is an attempt at resolving conflict by not willing at all. Life and death are opposites. They cannot both exist. If life is real, then death never happened. God is life. It is not possible for God to die. How then can anything He creates die? Death is experienced only as long as we protect it by keeping it away from eternal life.

What ACIM Has To Say About 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? Death 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 the 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, 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.

“Death is the symbol of the fear of God. His love is blotted out in the idea, which holds it from awareness like a shield held up to obscure the sun. The grimness of the symbol is enough to show it cannot coexist with God. It holds an image of the Son of God in which he is “laid to rest” in devastation’s arms, where worms wait to greet him and to last a little while by his destruction. Yet the worms as well are doomed to be destroyed as certainly.  And so do all things live because of death. Devouring is nature’s “law of life.” God is insane, and fear alone is real.

“The curious belief that there is part of dying things that may go on apart from what will die, does not proclaim a loving God nor reestablish any grounds for trust. If death is real for anything, there is no life. Death denies life. But if there is reality in life death is denied. No compromise in this is possible. There is either a god of fear or One of Love. The world attempts a thousand compromises, and will attempt a thousand more. Not one should be acceptable to you because not one is acceptable to God. He did not make death because He did not make fear. Both are equally meaningless to Him.

“The “reality” of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s child, His creation, is a body. And if God created bodies, death would indeed be real. But God would not be loving. There is no point at which the contrast between the perception of the real world and that of the world of illusions becomes more sharply evident. Death is indeed the death of God, if He is Love. All dreams will end when death is overcome. This is salvation’s final goal, the end of all illusions. And in death are all illusions born. What can be born of death and still have life? But what is born of God and still can die? The inconsistencies, the compromises and rituals the world fosters in its vain attempts to cling to death and yet to think love real are mindless magic, ineffectual and meaningless. God is, and in Him all created things must be eternal. Do you not see that otherwise He has an opposite, and fear would be as real as love?

“Your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which death plays a part.  And what is the end of death? Nothing but this; the realization that God’s child is guiltless now and forever. Nothing but this. But do not let yourself forget it is not less than this.”

Accept No Compromise Where Death Plays A Part

Are you willing to die to accept no compromise where death plays a part? The death of your body cannot get in the way of your eternal life, but lack of integrity due to fear of death can. In the movie about the Gulf War mentioned in chapter three, soldiers, who had been trained to be fearless, had not done all they could to save their captain and clearly had regrets. They made a compromise with death and could not live with themselves because of their choices. In fearing death, they missed out on life.

Jesus said to his disciples, “I am prepared to lay down my life for you.” He meant that even death was not going to stand in the way of his love. If it came to it, if he had to make the choice, he would die rather than stop expressing his eternal love for his cherished disciples. He refused to compromise with death. As he knew the unreality of his body, could its crucifixion be his maximum expression of love? To hold on to the idea that God sent Jesus into the world to die for one’s sins is to think God cruel. Jesus’ death by crucifixion was a choice he made. It was not God’s will. Jesus’ life is his message, not his death. He refused to compromise with death, as demonstrated in his resurrection and ascension.

Jesus’ disciple, Peter, was not so free of body consciousness. On the night the Roman soldiers arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter denied Jesus three times. Because he feared his own death he did not want to be associated with Jesus. He was not prepared to do whatever was necessary to demonstrate his love for his master. He thought the preservation of his body more valuable than courageously facing death to express love for his beloved teacher. In that, he was accepting a compromise with death.

Joan of Arc was willing to be burned at the stake rather than denounce her voices. She was accepting no compromise where death plays a part. Truth was more important than life itself.

If you were living in Nazi Germany during Hitler’s tyranny would you have been willing to risk your life for the safety of others? Love is fearless. There are many stories of great courage in defiance of Hitler’s inhumanity. In one example from the movie, Schindler’s List, Schindler took tremendous risks to save life by employing Jews to make inoperable weapons. He was at risk for insisting that the Jews who worked for him were indispensable and also for not producing up to standard. He risked his life for the sake of life. On the news in January of 2003, a young German doctor exposed inhumane treatment in North Korea. He was called a fanatic but stood strong, saying,  “We Germans were accused of being passive during Hitler’s regime and so I will not keep quiet now.” We can learn from the past and get it right in this moment. I salute this German doctor’s courage.

Once a friend shared a past life wherein she belonged to an American Indian tribe during the time of the brutal massacres. She’d had a vision in which she saw her whole village being wiped out but was afraid to tell the chief because she was just a little girl and felt she would not be heard. The following day as witnessed in her vision, the village was totally annihilated. Though she died with the rest, she carried a feeling of guilt with her into this life. She felt she had let her village down and was responsible for their bloodbath. Had she found the courage to tell the chief, even if he hadn’t listened, she would have had the satisfaction of having done what she could to save her people. She compromised with death by contracting into fear. Though you may not be able to prevent physical death, if you live your life fearlessly, you are accepting no compromise with death. In this life she has become a great teacher who boldly declares the message of accepting no compromise with death.

In the movie, John Q, the father of a son who needs a heart transplant doesn’t have the money for the necessary operation. John Q is forced to take extreme measures, including hold up the emergency room of a hospital. As a last resort he is willing to take his own life so his son can have his heart. In the nick of time, a heart is donated and there is a happy ending. I think that even if his son had not survived the operation, John Q would have been able to live with himself in peace, knowing that he had done absolutely everything possible unto death to save his child. He would have had no regrets. He was not afraid of dying and in that he knew how to live. Accepting no compromise where death plays a part is for our peace of mind.

Martin Luther King, Jr. frequently commented that threats on his life could not diminish his passion for justice for his people. There are many examples of heroic efforts wherein people are willing to risk their lives for the sake of the highest good for all. Generally, when we hear about, read about or watch movies of these fearless acts of noble character and deathless courage, tears spring to our eyes. We see that love is more important than life itself. We recognize goodness and courage as real and it makes our hearts soar. True courage inspires nobility and fearlessness. Fear not for your own life and you are accepting no compromise where death plays a part. One who lives so fearlessly knows he is not his body and that he cannot die.

Fanaticism Is A Compromise With Death

There are those who don’t mind the idea of dying because their religion assures them they will go to heaven for their courage. The Muslim suicide bombers are a prime example of that very idea. They blow themselves up hoping to take out a number of innocent ‘enemy’ civilians in the process. They act out of hatred for their brothers, the Jews. They justify killing themselves because they have been brainwashed to believe they will be warmly received in heaven for their courage. Has anyone of them come back from the dead to confirm their belief? They are simply acting on blind faith and killing innocent people with their distorted understanding.

Are they different from the heroes we just touched on? They too are willing to give their lives for what they believe in. There is all the difference in the world. The suicide bombers are destroying life and acting from hatred, while the heroes are saving life and are motivated by love. The suicide bombers have no compunction about killing those who refuse to adopt their religion or beliefs. This is not accepting no compromise where death plays a part. This is using death as a weapon and thus making death real. They are exclusive and have forgotten the truth that all are their brothers and sisters. If they knew that, they could not kill anyone for any reason.

Some Christians believe that Jesus death on the cross assures them they will go to heaven after they die. Has anyone who believed this come back to confirm for the Christians that it is so? Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is within. If you wait till you die to get something you don’t have right now, you are missing the truth and making death real. I would only wonder if life would be so different without a body. You always take yourself with you wherever you go. You cannot escape your mind, but you can transform it and then you don’t have to wait till you die to go to heaven. Then you can be in heaven right now.

I am willing to do anything to end the suffering on the planet. Is that fanaticism? Is that terrorism? I want even the terrorist saved. I don’t support his acts but he is still my brother. Nothing he does can change who he is. God created him innocent and perfect and God did not change His mind. A terrorist’s actions cannot change his truth. He is not more powerful than God. In fact I refuse to die until the whole planet is free of ego. That is my commitment.

I yearn for the end of suffering for all. No one is excluded. All are God’s children and therefore my family. There are no exceptions. Until not one slave remains to walk the earth’s surface is my salvation complete. A terrorist or a fanatic is a slave to ego. Anyone who is not living the truth of love for all is a slave and is suffering by definition. To yearn for the end of suffering for all humanity is an impossible goal, yet with God all things are possible. With only a handful of such fearless souls as those mentioned earlier, the world will be saved.

Ascension Plan As Escape Makes The Unreal Real

There are those who say, “We cannot die, so let’s transfigure our bodies into light and leave this world of illusion.” So far I don’t know of any success stories, probably because they are trying to escape the world rather than transform it into the real world. You cannot escape your mind and the world is merely a reflection of your mind. You can only leave the real world at will for then your mind is healed and the world will reflect that wholeness. A whole mind is one that has been restored to oneness with God. It is again merged with God and is free to be in the world or not, determined by what will be of greatest service. An unhealed mind is bound to an unreal world by definition. Escaping the world cannot be done either by death or ascension. Only in knowing the world can be transformed from unreal to real is there hope of life without opposite.

There is some evidence that the Anasazis ascended en mass. Studies indicate that they were a peaceful Native American tribe, apparently living in total alignment with Great Spirit. During the late 1200’s, they experienced a severe drought in all the land. Their consciousness simply did not support starving to death. They had not focused on ascension. They merely found themselves in a situation where their knowledge that they were sustained by Great Spirit rather than by food and water permitted a solution from out of time. They must have freed themselves sufficiently of victim/victimizer consciousness to allow ascension to be a viable alternative. This is different from a group trying to leave because they don’t like it here. Ideas cannot leave their source and the world is an idea in our minds.

Tukaram, mentioned earlier in this chapter, did not attempt to escape the world. God scooped him up due to his devotion and pure life. No one who wishes to escape will be successful, whether they try to escape with drugs, alcohol, food, sleep, television, video games, ascension attempts, suicide or death. Anything can be used or misapplied depending on one’s purpose. What is the point of knowing that you cannot die? You will not fear death. You will fearlessly look death in the face. You will recognize that you are immortal and thus be victorious over death. You will know who you are.

God Has Nothing To Do With Death

To live in the real world is to live in the world God created. God created a world where everything lives forever. Imagine what that would be like. Just for a moment let’s take death away from everything. Imagine not being able to lose the ones you love, your family, friends, pets... Imagine trees, flowers, mountains and the sun living forever. Doesn’t that feel good? It does mean you have no final solution to your problems except to solve them. Doesn’t knowing that God did not make death remove a huge barrier you had put up against Him? You probably weren’t even aware that the barrier was there. But as long as you believe in death, you invariably think it is God’s idea and thus you will be afraid of Him. If you do not love God with a passion, if you do not find yourself irresistibly drawn to Him, you are probably blaming Him for the world being a place where everything dies. It is not true. We are responsible. God has nothing to do with death.

Ellie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor, tells the story of a group of Jewish lawyers and judges held captive in Auschwitz who decided one night to put God on trial. They deliberated the whole night and by morning had found God guilty, for surely the inhumane atrocities they witnessed and experienced could only have happened because God had abandoned them. Despite their gloomy verdict they expressed a beautiful surrender to God by concluding the trial with, “Now let us pray.” They did not forget God, though they could not find a way around blaming Him for their suffering.

God does not will anyone to suffer. He was not the cause of their anguish. To think He was only added to their misery. I am agonized by the horrors that went on in the concentration camps in W.W.II, the genocide of the Native Americans, the brutality perpetrated against the Afro-Americans… Ego is behind all hatreds that lead to cruelty on the basis of religion, skin color… We cannot solve the problem by blaming God, but by seeing truly what ego is and relinquishing it within ourselves in the service of the whole of humanity. When a critical mass is willing to offer this maximum expression of love, we will end horrific genocide for all humanity and live in peace with all our brothers and sisters as God intended.

Compassion For Humanity’s Pain Is Life

There are those who say, “It doesn’t get any deader than this.” They mean that life as we know it is living death. We are the walking dead due to isolating ourselves from others’ pain. Once I was part of a discussion centered on the Falun Dafa exercises that so many Chinese citizens have been brutally tortured to death for practicing. I was expressing my outrage and how I was willing even to go to China if that would serve. Someone else, a student of ACIM, piped up, “All you have to do is change your mind, Yaani.” It felt so lacking in compassion. Another student of ACIM asked if I would be willing to do nothing. It sounded so dead, so intellectual and conceptual. It was completely devoid of heart. They had used the teachings of ACIM to intellectualize themselves out of any feelings of compassion for the horrors that take place in the world.

Later, as I was driving down the road thinking about our conversation, I saw how protecting ourselves from other people’s pain was living death. I found myself dropping every last barrier that I had in place to keep out the pain of the world. I let it all in and found myself alive as never before. I felt so whole and real. Death is cutting ourselves off from other people’s suffering, thus putting the suffering outside of ourselves. That is living death out of fear of having to experience another’s pain. We create separation to avoid suffering. You will naturally be compassionate toward all who suffer and do what you can for them when you recognize there is nothing outside of your mind. By helping them you are helping yourself.

Would you do nothing if you broke your leg? Excruciating pain causes you to act. You don’t even hesitate or think about it. You act. As long as anyone is suffering, it is your pain. Because I know the unreality of pain, I am willing to be responsible for it. In taking responsibility, all I want with all my heart and soul is the end of suffering for all, and I have a willingness to do whatever it takes. That passion can be used to literally see miracles of healing take place before our very eyes. A passionate determination to draw your circle and declare that enough is enough will make a difference.

False Equanimity And Disowned Guilt Lead To Deadness

When I first started visiting Sai Baba’s ashram, I was instructed to cultivate equanimity. No matter what happened, I handled it with the same friendly, yet all too ready smile. It was too available, too predictable. I didn’t feel my other emotions because I was told that only supreme happiness was my true reality. I wasn’t authentic with what I was experiencing in each moment. I prided myself on being spiritual, but still felt unworthy and a gnawing lack of self-confidence. I felt like the walking dead. I had conceptual understanding and was misapplying the idea of equanimity.

Once I realized there must be more, I opened the door to experiences that offered the opportunity to stay in a state of deep equanimity while responding in a real way to my present circumstances as well. There are those who suggest to fake it till you make it, but it is my experience that when you face it, it can be undone, and when you fake it, it keeps resurfacing. Any more I am always aware of a calm that comes from a deep trust in God. That is equanimity. I know I am unaffectable, but at the same time I don’t deny or suppress my emotions. Nor do I wallow in the negative ones. I give them to God to be healed.

Another way to be the walking dead is to put guilt outside of yourself. When you project guilt out, you no longer feel guilty, but you have cut yourself off from the one you project onto, thus from a part of yourself and so you no longer know who you are. When Adam projected his guilt for eating the apple, that is for making ego, onto Eve, a deep sleep fell upon Adam. He cut himself off from his love in order to escape his guilt. In so doing he forgot who he was. That is death.

Only when you see everyone’s innocence do you know your innocence and only then have you included everyone and everything back into your mind and thereby realized who you are. You cannot rid yourself of guilt by projecting it out. On the contrary, projecting it is how you keep it. It isn’t real and only by projecting it do you make it real. When you stand still in it, you see its nothingness. Then only is your mind whole and then only are you alive and you know who you are. You know you are life without opposite.

Uncertainty about what you must be is self-deception on a scale so vast, its magnitude can hardly be conceived. To be alive and not to know yourself is to believe that you are really dead. For what is life except to be yourself, and what but you can be alive instead? Who is the doubter? What is it he doubts? Whom does he question? Who can answer him? He merely states that he is not himself, and therefore, being something else, becomes a questioner of what that something is. Yet he could never be alive at all unless he knew the answer. If he asks as if he does not know, it merely shows he does not want to be the thing he is. He has accepted it because he lives; has judged against it and denied its worth and has decided that he does not know the only certainty by which he lives.

Where does confusion about who we are come from? We made ego to be our source in God’s stead. In convincing ourselves that we actually succeeded in making our own creator, we also convinced ourselves that we were self-authored. Since ego is nothing, in believing that it is our source, we believe that we are nothing. We donned a false identity and this confusion around our identity is the cause of our not knowing something so basic as who we are. Once we accept God as our Source, all confusion around who we are vanishes.

Until we know who we are we identify with ourselves as vulnerable, fragile, physical/emotional bodies. We close down so we won’t get hurt, yet in that action we die a little. We have to recognize that we cannot be hurt by anyone or anything and that to close down is ego’s solution to pain. To heal is God’s solution, and then instead of dead, dull, lifeless and purposeless, we will feel alive, eager, enthusiastic, energetic, passionate and vibrant. That is who we are. We are life. To be alive is to fully embrace life with the deepest love. To be alive is to put our whole heart and soul into our every endeavor. Baba says, “Strive to your maximum capacity for excellence.” Be alive. Be vital. Be happy and pass it along. Make everyone you meet happy. That is life. Then you will not question who you are. You will simply know.

Beloved Mother-Father God, Thank You that You have nothing to do with death. Grant us the strength to accept no compromise where death plays a part. Grant us the courage to look at death without fear and see its nothingness.. Help us to discover true life, full of joy, passion, compassion, enthusiasm and vitality as you intended us to experience always. Thank You for the gift of eternal life..         

May all beings in all the worlds be happy and blest, Amen.

God Only Creates Eternal Life

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