We’re dancing on death here. We love to play with death in our movies and extreme sports. Horror movies play at terrorizing us through the surprise of death. Death has to be a surprise; suddenly it grabs you just when you think you are safe. Why do we love that? We also love a good sneeze and orgasm. Both are a kind of death that blows out the conscious mind of a separate me. In the moment of surprise YOU as a separate me are not there. Then you come back happy to have had a mini vacation from the sorrow of your exile in the world as a separate thing. Surprise me again, we say, and they say no…no…then you relax…SURPRISE! And you jump out of your mind.
So death blows our the conscious mind and its memory and its sorrow and story, the whole catastrophe. Our fear is that there is nothing on the other side of Me. But our fear comes from our belief in a me within boundaries, a me that is defined by another.
Why is ME defined by the other, by the world that names me? ME is empty, so it has to be defined by the Other, because ME as an empty shell can’t define itself. There is nothing there. That’s why it fears death. Me fears its own emptiness.
Going into death, into the Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad) is the turn about of the spiritual journey. Instead of fleeing death, one turns and goes directly into loss and grief and pain and sorrow, open armed, welcoming it. Turning the other cheek.
Instead of waiting for physical death on the plain of form, we go into death on the spiritual plane. Everything is inverted now. In the physical world of Me versus the World I flee death; in the inner world I find my center in death, in loss. This is the Way of the Buddha and the wisdom teachings.
But here’s the thing, this is not a choice. We reach the turning point when we have had our fill of sorrow and karma and the Ground Hog Day of worldly existence. Something snaps one day. We are radicalized. We just turn and walk in the opposite direction for now worldly reason. Other people think we are nuts. And relevant to them, we are.
Okay, we are talking about death as letting go, at least that’s what I’m talking about. We like to think of death as the end of my body’s life, but that’s only the physical level, which is not who we are. We are not just a body, a thing in space/time. You know that. There is another dimension here that we miss on our reality map of our culture. Identification with the body is all there is on this map, and we have come to the edge, just like the maps of the earth in the Middle Ages that thought the earth was flat and there was an edge to it.
So Columbus doesn’t buy that many and sails off into the abyss of death and discovered a new world. This is our mythology, our spiritual mythology of transcending death and boundaries. We all push boundaries. That is our nature, our human nature. We are always hearing the Call to Adventure, to go beyond our conceptual universe, our land of rigid opinions and judgment which keep us in place on our flat map. The fear we feel in answering that call is death, the fear of giving up what we know and cling to because what we know maintains our sense of ME. And what is ME but empty. That’s why we hear the call because we are empty and must find our fulfillment. We must be the One that has no second, and we will keep going until we fulfill that commandment.
But…but if we try to do that on the physical plane of form, we are doomed to Ground Hog Day and death. The river has been diverted and circles back upon itself as the Uroboros.