There’s a poignant recollection that comes to my mind after completing the last chapter of The Most Important Thing (Adyashanti).
Many years ago, I had attended my Aunt Dolly’s funeral service. One of her closest and beloved nieces, Wendy, who happened to be a devout born-again Christian, was conversing with me about Aunt Dolly. When Wendy mentioned how happy she was that Aunt Dolly was in ‘heaven’ I felt compelled to say, “No, I think she’s right here, right next to me, in the very fabric of my sweater.”
Wendy did not reply, and from her expression I sensed she had no idea what I meant.
At that time, neither did I exactly know what I meant, but something deep within me knew it was true, and I felt obliged to express it in that moment.
This week, I’ve been thinking about my mom who died 5 months ago. I’ve been feeling her. This feeling of mom brings on emotions that come from so many conditioned responses to my own memories; sadness, guilt, disappointment, and even joy and deep love.
But more important than the emotions that arise, I notice how my perception of life as always present has enhanced my ability to feel mom.
It has been such a reward to have read this book which acknowledges this feeling I’ve always sensed but have not found the words for:
“If you have ever been with someone who is dying, you know that the changing of the form, the moment of death, is discernable. Even if in that moment when it happens you have your eyes closed, you know; it is a powerful moment.
It is an honor to be present when someone passes, as it is a profoundly deep and moving experience, but death is experienced differently when we know that life does not disappear as the form disappears.
This is why people can lose a loved one and suddenly feel their loved one everywhere.
We think of that as a poetic experience – the human imagination projecting the memory of somebody we’ve loved – and as something we do with our mind and our ideas, but there is also a reality to it beyond the ideas.
That person always was life, and although the form life took has disappeared, the life itself is everywhere.
To feel that someone is everywhere is not merely a romantic comfort created by those who are grieving. It touches a fundamental reality; the forms change, and there is a definitive moment of the changing of the form, but there is no more and no less life.
This is why when we awaken, when we are realized, we know there is no birth or death in some essential sense; there is the changing of forms, but not the beginning and the end of one’s existence. So in Zen, when they say the real reason for the whole spiritual endeavor is to resolve the Great Matter of birth, life, and death, they mean it.
As long as we are caught in the realm of acceptance and rejection, believing and disbelieving, we are living in a world of abstraction. That is what spiritual teachers mean- at least it is what I mean – by saying we are living in a dream. Therefore, believing or disbelieving is not the point.
The real instinct for enlightenment or awakening or God comes from a kind of dissatisfaction – from no longer wanting to live an abstracted life, no longer wanting your life to continue to contribute to the world of sorrow, and paying attention to the desire to have a rich and deep experience of being instead of one created by what you believe. This is the real enlightenment impulse.
Trust the quiet spaces within, because they are the ultimate sutras of existence”.
The Most Important Thing, Adyashanti, (bold, italics supplied by me)
PHOTO CREDIT: “Angel Wings” taken by my dear friend, Annette Adams