Enlightenment & Death - Your Original Purpose
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Section 24

Enlightenment and Death

It may sound somewhat odd to use the words enlightenment and death in the same sentence. But in this section we will examine and reveal an unavoidable relationship between the two. To do this, we must first understand the full meaning of the word enlightenment.


Essentially, there are two meanings to the word. One is educational and suggests a learning or understanding about something and the other indicates a spiritual state. There is an interesting association between the two, and it is this; the impulse that gave rise to the educational aspect of the word was also the unavoidable cause of the separation from the spiritual aspect. To understand this relationship more thoroughly, we have to go back, once again, to the early days of civilisation.


When the primitive human animal first developed the ability to reflect, this also marked the beginning of a long journey towards understanding what the world is, and who we are as the individuals experiencing it. We can say that this endeavour to understand is a seeking to enlighten ourselves in an educational sense. We have been, and still are, engaged in a process of learning the truth about ourselves, of how and why we are here, where we are going, what the world is, and the meaning and purpose of existence itself. Collectively, we are still a long way from having or agreeing upon this knowledge. But it was this impulse to understand that began the separation from the Source of our Being, our naturally enlightened state. This disconnect from Source as the intellect grew to develop an understanding of the world, is the fall of humankind from Grace, as we have discussed previously.


The notion of Spiritual enlightenment is one that is most commonly associated with the philosophy of Buddhism, and it means to be fully awakened, free from the limits of the human mind and suffering. To be enlightened in this way is to reduce the heaviness of your Being by dissolving the substance of self or past within it. It is to be liberated from the weight of an egoic, mind-absorbed, emotional way of living that is not the truth, and return to the natural state of being, which is of course the Grace or Source we fell from. Together with the educational aspect of this word, the full meaning of enlightenment is for us to return to an original state, but with the firm knowledge of who and what we are.


The two aspects must come together―and eventually will come together―as one complete reality of being, never to fall or fail again. Either aspect on its own, however, is not sufficient to endure. For example, it would be accurate to say that the early humans were ‘enlightened’ because they lived in the natural state. But that is only half of the equation. They did not know who or what they were, and were therefore susceptible to being influenced and manipulated by other forces, as we have already discussed.


On the other hand, if the truth of our existence and Being was known beyond all doubt and agreed upon universally, a person could study the information at an intellectual level, memorise it and learn to present it like a speech, lecture or sermon. But this would not mean that the person was enlightened in the sense of being awakened and free. Consequently, they would also be susceptible to manipulation by egoic forces, and may perhaps also be tempted to use the information to manipulate others as well. For these reasons, both the understanding of who you are and the freedom or detachment from that, must come together to be the real and full state of enlightenment.


But what does this have to do with death? And the answer is this: in the process of becoming enlightened, a part of you must die. It is, of course, not a physical death, but there is a relationship between this kind of dying and the experience of departing the physical body. The dying you will encounter on your way to an enlightened state of Being is a psychological and emotional death. It is the death of the ego. Now let’s look at what this means and how it relates to the experience of physical death.


To the degree that what you have been reading in this work makes sense and resonates for you, then it is indisputable, although perhaps a little difficult to accept, that there can be no death. If there is only Consciousness, then there can never be no Consciousness, which in turn indicates quite clearly that there can be no death of your Beingness. Yes, of course your body will die, as all bodies and all things in existence will eventually cease to be. But bodies are life-forms, not the life that creates them and lives through them, just as the cake you make comes and goes but you as the creative Consciousness remain, and remain a little enriched as well, due to the opportunity you have had to both create and enjoy your cake.


This is the point and design of things coming into existence (being born), living, and dying, which is quite reasonable and logical if we think it through. If things were only born, but never died, then two things would occur. First there would eventually be a glut of life-forms on Earth and the system would quickly overload and collapse. Second, without life-forms ceasing to be, there could be no development or evolution. Without something coming to an end, there is no opportunity for something new to emerge. Death and birth, therefore, are two sides of the same coin, that coin being the reality of developing Consciousness. Birth is the opportunity for new expression, and death is the opportunity to learn from that experience. Let’s look at this in greater detail.


Taking our analogy of making a cake once more, then from the perspective of the cake we, as the creative Consciousness, have brought it into existence. We have birthed it as the materialisation of our intention, a new expression in existence. As we eat it, it then disappears, ceases to be, or dies to the world. The value of it is extracted as growth and learning or, in the case of our cake, more likely just the enjoyment of it and the energy it provides.


This dynamic is analogous with the birth and death of a body. Our bodies are born into the world by the Greater Consciousness, and they move about and do what they do through life as a function of the Consciousness (natural and/or egoic) that drives them. Upon death, the value of the life experience is then extracted as vital energetic information to the Being that created it, the Earth Being. The process of death, in the natural state, is all about extracting value.


Before we became self-conscious humans, the process of death was one that was more exactly aligned with the above analogy. The life and death of each body enabled the Earth Being to experiment and develop, and for the knowledge to be passed on ever so incrementally as evolved hereditary traits within a species. But with the added dimension of self-consciousness and the ego, the situation changed and is now very complicated. Let’s look at the differences.


For a body that has an awareness of the energy moving in it, which is what we are as self-aware human beings, the natural experience of death is this: the withdrawal of Consciousness from the physical body is a movement of reality away from us to reveal, at first, the observation of our own body and the immediate scene, as many people who have had near-death experiences will testify. Note that it is a movement away from us as the observing Consciousness, not of us moving away from the scene, and the subtlety of this is often lost on people who have near-death experiences, because they become overwhelmed with the realisation that their true reality is separate from the body, and that they are not dead. Experiences of this nature are truly powerful, and a great gift to the individual, but the fact that reality moves away from them, and not the other way around, is an interesting and important piece of information.


To help understand the distinction, consider the reality of your own life experience. You are the observing Consciousness always, the experiencer of your life, no matter what happens where and when. The fact is that you are always ‘here’ and the world moves by you, not the other way around as most people would think and say. That is, it is normal and accepted to think and say that we move through the world, for example ‘I am going to the shops’, or ‘I am moving to America’. These kinds of statements, although quite normal and true from one perspective, are not quite the truth of the matter and are indeed an indicator of how far we are from really knowing what is going on.


It is not that difficult to see and prove to yourself that you are always ‘here’ as the observer of your life. You are not essentially going anywhere in life―you are pulling it past you as a continuous stream of experiences. That might seem difficult to understand, but it is worth contemplating. What is it, then, that determines the nature of the experiences you draw by you? I hope that the answer to this question is now known, or that it will become more apparent as we continue, because it is something that can truly help you create a better quality of life. But for now, let’s get back to death…


At first reality moves away from you, as you let go of the attachment to, and projection through, the physical body. Then there is a travelling, tunnelling sensation as you pass back through your accumulated life experiences, back towards the centre of the firmamental structure that supports all existence. This is the extraction of value and it is experienced as a rushing of energy past you―your own past―and a movement towards the light.


The movement is a withdrawal to the Source of your Being, the singularity that is behind existence and the place from which you come. As the light is approached, there is a feeling of overwhelming peace, power, love, and one of ‘returning home’. After this, there is stillness; the totality of Consciousness where any sense of individuality ceases to be. Words now fail to explain or describe this reality any further, as it is a place behind and beyond all words, all realities and all concepts of anything. Experience is the only indicator of its reality, and even then, it is something beyond experience. It just is.


This is the natural process of death that an enlightened person would experience or an animal would if they could identify with and explain what was happening. Now let’s look at the death experience when ego is involved, which is the reality for just about every person on Earth today.


At first the experience is the same. There is the letting go of the physical body and then an observation of the immediate environment. There may now be a glimpse of the light, or perhaps a movement towards it briefly, and an awareness of going back through the experiences of your life as the extraction process is engaged. There may also be a period of disorientation, but then there is a rapid movement away as your energy is brought into alignment with that which you carried or represented while you were alive.


You travel through and have experiences that are sympathetic, or resonant, with all the beliefs you hold and behaviours you embody while alive. For example, if you are a Christian, you will experience a place that reflects your beliefs about Christianity. If you are Muslim, you will experience a place that reflects the religion of Islam and your identification with it. Consequently, a person might initially feel that they are right about everything they believed and did in life because it is clearly reflected in this ‘afterlife’ place. But that is only temporary, and soon registers as a sense of contraction, of being caught up or trapped in what is actually a region of density―a belief or mindset―in the human psyche. In this way release from the body at death might be temporarily liberating, but the ‘destination’ is not. Qualitatively, you are no better off in death than you are while alive.


This then describes the reality of karma at work and the merry-go-round nature of it. Soul can and does get stuck on this ride for a very long time, but because Consciousness is behind everything, at some stage a powerful realisation dawns and eventually there is a shift.


There is a very good movie, ‘Groundhog Day’ directed by Harold Ramis and first released in 1993, that captures the essence of this dynamic beautifully and quite humorously as well. The main character, Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) is a cynical television weatherman who finds himself in a time loop, living the same day―February 2nd―over and over. Each day he experiences the same scenarios and challenges but never seems to be able to rise above them. In desperation he then takes is life, but continues to waken to February 2nd. The fact that he cannot seemingly escape the reality of his existence, forces him to examine his ways and attitudes, and eventually he learns that the cause of his torment is his arrogant and selfish behaviour. By becoming more considerate and loving, he is then released from this disturbing time loop.


The nature of experience at death of an ego absorbed person also explains the notion of ‘judgement’ that arises in some religious traditions. Although the essential idea behind this is correct, it is important to note that it is a self-judging mechanism determined by how true to life you have been, that is, how well you have lived in alignment with the Earth Being while alive. Therefore, the idea of going to ‘Heaven’ is something determined by this alignment alone, and does not necessarily have anything to do with how much you believe in God or how many times you might attend church.


Heaven is a place synonymous with complete immersion in Consciousness, the vital reality of life unencumbered by ego. Conversely, ‘Hell’ is a place of restriction that may not be very pleasant, especially if you have lived a life of meanness to others, because you will experience something similar when you die. It is unavoidable that you do, and this is perfect justice and the brilliant education system of karma at work that eventually shows us all the truth. Both Heaven and Hell are dimensions of experience that happen now, not in some hoped for (or dreaded) afterlife place.


Physical death, then, is an experience that will vary enormously depending on the extent to which individuals have lived in alignment with Source, against alignment with ego. But how does this relate to the psychological and emotional death we must experience as we enlighten ourselves?


First, it is only ego that stands between you and enlightenment, nothing else. So, the physical death experience for the ego-aligned person is that they arrive in a place after death of sympathetic resonance with the essential nature of their lives just lived. From this place, a new life will be determined and lived at some time in the future by the mechanism of reincarnation. This will continue, as per the ‘Groundhog Day’ experience, until such time that behaviours are changed and there is a shift and release from this merry-go-round, or karmic wheel as it is said in Buddhism. At the point of death―at the stage where reality has moved away and there is an awareness of life that is simply unbelievable―there is also a short but great opportunity to glimpse a deeper truth before being diverted to destination’s end. It is this glimpse that injects the energy for change ever so incrementally. The more enlightened we become, which means the less substance we have as Soul, the longer these glimpses become. This, then, allows for more rapid progress and ultimately, at some stage, we get off the wheel and become realigned with the fullness of Consciousness. This is the journey of enlightenment that everybody is on, and the living/dying/reincarnation cycle is the mechanism by which it happens.


However, enlightenment does not have to involve physical death. The main reason why physical death allows us to advance on this path is because it is an incredible shock to us. It is the shock of release from a mind-absorbed way of living, which is to say, living in a way that is deeply attached to the body and the physical world. In death, this world―and the attachment to it―is literally ripped away from us. And, because there is usually little awareness in people about the reality of life and the Universe, having the world ripped away from us is a completely shocking experience. It is the extreme contrast that shocks, not unlike the experience of having the ‘rug pulled out from under your feet’, or jumping into a pool of cold water on a hot day. But in the space of this shock is the opportunity to see things differently, and this is the great gift of it. It allows us to bring new energy to old ways, and this begins to dissolve the substantial nature of the ego/soul. And this, essentially, is what spiritual enlightenment is about. Physical death is not necessary, but shock usually is. There is nothing like it to initiate change.


Unfortunately, but quite understandably, it is usually only when a person experiences extreme shock in their lives that they begin to question what they are doing, and become earnestly devoted to discovering the truth. This was certainly the case for me, and has been the case for most people I meet who have begun to look deeper into the meaning of life. In the same way that the physical death of our own bodies is a shock, so too is the loss of a loved one, or of something dear to us; like losing all our money, having our house burn down, or suddenly receiving news that our partner wants to leave us after 30 years of marriage. These are all shocking experiences, and they represent similar opportunities as the shock of our own physical death. Behind the experience of the event is an opportunity to see the world differently and bring new energy towards change. Awareness of, and commitment to, this process allows us to consciously detach ourselves from existence, rather than having it ripped away from us upon death. However, the price we must pay is a psychological and emotional disturbance that varies in intensity, the beginnings of which occur at the tail end of the initiating shock. For us to handle such experiences correctly is an opportunity for rapid growth, and the expansion into a new level of being that will far exceed the quality of any previous experience.


In the next section we look at personal growth and the relationship between it and evolution.