Recently, I was asked a question I thought would be worth sharing. When I read Adyashanti’s book, “The End of Your World”, this one also struck me as an unusual question to include and a curious answer. I’ve edited my response for the format.
There is an interview Q&A in Adya’s new book “The End of Your World” which I don’t understand. Can I ask you what he meant?
“TS: Do you think there’s any quality of experience that’s available after death that’s not available when you are incarnate?
ADYA: Waking up is dying. That’s what it is. When the awakening happened, I died. Everything disappeared, blanked out. Everything that everybody fears the most is what happened to me. Total blankness. Absolute nonexistence. Nothingness, nothingness, nothingness. At that
moment, no past life, no present life – nothing – no consciousness, no birth, no sickness, no nothing. Zero. It’s everything that everybody is terrified of. That’s what happened to me; that’s death.
And it just so happens that death is itself life. We must die in order to truly live. We must experience absolute non-existence in order to truly exist, in a conscious way.”
First thing to understand is Adya – he had a big unity-type waking, then settled back into realization, then completed the process. So his waking was high-contrast. It is often more gentle.
Secondly, from what I’ve seen, the reason people fear death is more due to latent sub-conscious memories of bad dying experiences. (starving, drowning, etc.) This may relate to peoples phobias as well.
Actual death is usually quite nice and is a relief. An unburdening. Awakening can be too but the big difference is that awakening is the end of the ego story whereas in death, ego may at most become latent. (journeys after death vary) This is why one can lose the fear of death well before losing the ego.
When you die, the etherial, emotional and lower mind energy dissipate. What some call “ego death” with waking may be experienced in a similar way. Who you thought you were ends. Some call this nothingness and no self but in my experience this is only because the old has ended but the new is not yet seen. For long term meditators, the Self can already be very familiar. Thus, only the small me ends. Also, it is ego that is terrified. If ego has detached or ended, there is no fear. In fact it’s usually more ‘that’s it???’ ‘That’s all it was??’ One of the cosmic jokes. Awakening is very simple and natural.
Most people I know experience awakening gradually. There is the clear shift in the sense of self. A sense of liberation and peace. Then the mind notices who it thought it was is no longer there. Then other aspects of the story or ego construct – what I call ‘ego shrapnel’ – fall away or are seen and fall away. The less story there is, the less there is to create a fuss or engage it. When the emotional underpinning falls away, this accelerates.
For the last part of the quote, the me must end or die for the we to live. We must be born again*. We become nothing on the way to being everything. The ego fears ending, so it tries to divert us from the truth of our being. Amusingly nothing actually dies or ends – just illusion.
It’s also worth mentioning that fundamental aspects of you are beyond existence. Absolute pure awareness, for example. Thus, to know who you really are, you experience your non-existence. (laughs) From the heart, pure love causes & sustains existence, so this is a good thing. 😉
I can also note that Adya didn’t actually answer the question. I would say yes. In India, when an awake person dies, they call it maha-samadhi. The great, final transcendence. One is no longer bound by the limits of being human and having a person but one also no longer has the unique vehicle for fast evolution. What happens for any given awake person though seems to vary – as with all things. Some describe dissolving into source, some ascending the highest heavens, and some stick around to help.
* more deeply, we become “twice reborn” into Unity.