This quote was sent by Hal, who conversed with me about subjects of duality, mortality, self and consciousness — posted as 'Quantum Human.' Here I respond to the quote, continuing the dialogue.
It is true, some people adhere to a doctrine of religion on death and afterlife, to ease their fears and not because they reason or feel it is so.
Thinking that death is 'lights out, period' for the self is also a belief. Beliefs of any kind filter and distort what is actual.
By suspending all beliefs, having no pre-conceptions, admitting anything is possible, and trusting deeply in the whole of life, the ride through death may be smoother and more conscious, even if it is into oblivion of the self.
The degree of wakefulness of your ordinary, everyday mind determines the clarity of your consciousness in all other states, including hypnotic, shamanic, mystical, near death experiences, and life after death. - Joseph Dillard
If my center of awareness survives in some way, without layers of conditioning, I allow it will witness an actuality more dazzling than anything I can imagine.
My older brother Alan died at 19 when his car went off a mountain road. I was 12, and for years after he often appeared in my dreams. Usually the message was that he hadn't actually died and had walked out of the forest.
I 'believe' that was a rationalization of my mind, to not accept the finality of death in the sense that our family would not see Alan again in the body in this lifetime.
When the life of my younger brother Mark was ended at 17 by a drunk driver, I clung to the words of a song he had written shortly before, which seemed prophetic of his passing:
The mountain is conquered, my sky is red.
Peaceful giant, and nothin’s said.
Star-gazing wanderer is what I am. Eternal heaven grasps my mind
and carries it to a starburst field of flowers. Can’t count the hours.
And the ebony god grants a vision, my soul is arisen.
Flightless clouds in timeless night suspend me with them.
Such unearthly delight is mine. Perhaps a sign.
Silver threads of a golden dream surround me. My being will be free.
- Mark Jonathan Smith 1957-1974
It seemed to me that Mark somehow knew, and he needed to go, for some purpose 'on the other side.' That was also a rationalization, to ease the pain in my heart.
When my mother died, some said it was of a broken heart. It was during open heart surgery, so the metaphor fits. I was religious by that time, and too numb to know what I felt. She was a devout Catholic, and my rationalization pictured her in a Christian heaven.
My dad was an avid bicyclist and cycled the perimeter of the States in his sixties, riding in memory of mother. He wanted to live to be ninety and he did. On his deathbed, he began huffing and puffing as though pedaling hard up a mountain road, and then he was gone.
He too appeared in dreams, and sometimes I awakened feeling peace and a warm smile.
When I was fifteen, dad and I flew by bush pilot into the remote wilderness of Idaho where he had done Bighorn Sheep studies. He flew out, and I stayed with my dog friend Kiche. She and I hiked the river trails for a summer. Thirty-three years later, shortly after Kati and I met, we hiked together into the River of No Return wilderness.
Late one afternoon, on the way back to our camp by the river, I heard the inner voice say, 'be alert.' That night, Kati experienced terror in her tent. We worked through it together, and the next morning asked our inner guides what it was about. We both felt that earthbound souls had contacted us and wanted to be released. Following intuition, we 'released' them.
Of course, it could be called a subjective imaginary experience. Two days later we hiked another 30 miles into the wilderness, to what had been the Taylor Ranch in my summer as a boy. Now it is a research center of the University of Idaho. Normally they do not accept guests, but they had a copy of my dad's book on Bighorn Sheep on their shelf, and invited us to stay.
In conversation it came out that where we set up our base camp had been the site of a battle between the native people who had lived in the river canyons for centuries, and the U.S. military.
The couple was well-informed about the history of the region and the peaceful tribe who called themselves ‘tukudika’ or 'People of the Sun'. These Shoshoni-speakers had long remained mysterious and were referred to as Idaho’s shadowy people, the Sheep Eater Indians. During the period of the gold rush in America, the U.S. military waged a campaign against the ‘tukudika’ and destroyed their way of life.
When I was a boy in 1968, little was known about the People of the Sun. Had their earthbound souls really called upon us? Had we actually released them?
The quote above, 'Why do people believe in god?', written by an atheist, says, 'It is not easy for people to admit that our consciousness ends with our death, and yet this adds value to our life and stresses the importance of enjoying every moment.'
I am happy to accept that 'my' consciousness ends with my death. It may be as the consciousness of the caterpillar ends with its emergence as a butterfly. Or not. Whatever is the actuality, I trust in the grand design.
My enjoyment of every moment does not depend on accepting the finality of death. That seems a negative and fearful motivation, as in, 'I'd better make the most of this lifetime because it may be all I get.'
I choose rather to be motivated by my love for the beauty of life's design, which can be experienced to the fullest only by being present in the moment.