It’s curious how life tends to bring certain kinds of events in batches. I suppose this is because when a certain kind of energy arises, related sorts of actions transpire. This can be due to how our attention is or the trends of time and local area awareness.
Recently, within days of each other, several people close to me experienced a health crisis that brought them close to death. One recovered quickly, another I arranged long-term recovery support for, and the third is in a hospice.
The third is a very spiritual person having a very conscious death. It has been fascinating to share her journey and see how similar death is to awakening. We could say every stage of growth has the same basic pattern.
In our culture, we tend to hide death away. Put the dying in facilities. Repress grief or at least mask it in public. Many of us have rejected superficial ideas of the afterlife but if this is not considered further, one is left with a blank spot. Death becomes an emptiness, invited by a grumpy old fellow in dark robes.
Yet if we read documented stories of people who have begun to die and have “come back”, we find a very different theme. While the details vary, the fundamentals are common.
A variety of scientific research has been mounted to try to understand this. But science is still hampered by the idea that mind and consciousness are effects of the brain rather than the other way around.
News article on NDE’s and the AWARE research project
A study of brain wave spikes at death (the opening)
Looking at the subjective experience more deeply, we find a common thread of stages. Stages that are similar to awakening. How similar depends on how conscious the person is – it may be something that just happens, it may be like soul realization or even close to Self realization. For the awake, death is the completion of awakening in mahasamadhi. (the great transcendence)
Close to death many:
– come out from behind the “veil” and ego story to some degree
– have celestial experiences of light, the predeceased and angels
– there can be a kind of practicing leaving, gradually expanding and letting go of the body
– threads of connection to others and the ego may resist letting go, pull us back
– uncertainty about “leaving” can gradually release
– a looking for something to “do” to die rather than surrender
[Update: as death approaches, there can be considerable expansion and possibly peak experiences, bigger versions of the above. ]
– when the trust is there, the surrender takes place and the shift happens
[ like awakening, there can be a burst of release such as intense happiness or love]
– after the shift, there is a newness, often astonishment or initial uncertainty
– realization of what seems to be happening or support from others
– deeper surrender to the process, and so on into the new state
This is by no means a complete list, just some recent observations. I don’t have a suitable name for this shift in state and perspective. Death Consciousness? (laughs)
Unlike awakening, death is not a permanent change or state. In fact, it can be quite brief. Only until a new roll is adopted. The film What Dreams May Come illustrates what one persons processing might be like. (stylized for film)
Many people fear death. This is often due to the egos fear of being lost and possibly prior experiences of dying roughly. (also the source of persistent phobias) But death itself is not unpleasant. It is a liberation of sorts. Many are quite relieved from the burden of an aging or injured body.
We tend to think of death as a concept and thus what happens afterward is unknowable. Yet many people do experience prior lifetimes. With sufficient detail, points emerge that can be verified historically.
Experiencing our long past and remembering prior passings will lead to the loss of the fear of death. This will also occur when we step deep enough into our eternal being. What is death when we are eternal?
The long past will also offer context to the curious circumstances we may have in our life and the backstory to some relationships. This will unfold naturally if its awareness will serve your journey.
One of my friends said “When we come into the world, we’re upset and everyone else is overjoyed. When we leave, the reverse happens. We’re relieved and everyone else is sad.”
That’s another difference with awakening. With awakening, everyone is happy. The heavens celebrate.