You know the day destroys the night; the night destroys the day; so break on through, break on through, break on through to the other side.

Jim Morrison (1943—1971)

          I know I’ll die, but I’m less certain about what lies beyond the divide. In the grave is there only blackness? Or is there Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, love, ecstasy and authenticity? When asked what happens to us after we die, the Zen monk replied: “I don’t know, I haven’t died yet.” But like munching on a cardboard cracker, yearning hearts find that response unfulfilling. We begin looking around, making deductions, learning, thinking, observing and arriving at conclusions. Beliefs in what lies on the other side range from nihilistic darkness to theistic brilliancy.

One’s view of consciousness shapes and colors beliefs about the afterlife.

Those who view consciousness as nothing more than a computer-like brain process are likely to view death as the black-screen of death. We are born, we copulate, we die and we are no more.

Those who view consciousness as personal to one’s “self”—the soul, are likely to believe in heaven and hell and a judgment day.

In The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard de Chardin explored the nature of consciousness and concluded consciousness (primordial energy or God) supports everything. Those who view consciousness as the ground of everything are likely to believe that our bodies are a manifestation of consciousness—not separate and apart but part of the whole.

Platonists believed that biological death liberates consciousness from the body’s impediments and then everything is known, seen and understood with infinite clarity, an infinity of “aha moments.”

I think that almost all who believe in an afterlife recognize that to avoid the “black-screen of death” consciousness somehow needs to survive and break on through to the other side. Regarding this, David, posted this comment:  “As I was reading this [the blog on death] it occurred to me that death is like sending an email. The email never actually physically exists. It is only an idea in the form of electrical energy. When I send an email to you nothing actually physical goes from my computer to yours. Only the idea in the form of energy goes across the divide. Perhaps death is the same way. Our energy is sent like an email to an alternate universe outside of space and time. Does it reform as consciousness on the other side? We will have to wait and see.”

David’s comment provides a fascinating analogy for how consciousness-energy might make it through to the other side. It coincides with my belief that consciousness does indeed survive death. My belief on what will happen to my consciousness after death is not based on any ideology or dogmatism. It’s based on my looking around, making deductions, learning, and thinking, observing and arriving at conclusions that sound about right for me. Homo sapiens have been around for only about 40,000 years. I imagine that after we’ve been around for one billion years our consciousness will be so expanded that we will be aware of both sides of the divide.

Some of the commonly held beliefs about the afterlife are below, and afterwards I will add my own view.

Atheists naturally have no belief in an afterlife. Their advantage is they see no need pondering on an afterlife they don’t believe exists.

Agnostics have no belief about an afterlife either way. To an agnostic “There is no God” is as meaningless as the statement “God exists”—neither being susceptible to philosophical proof.

Organized religions have many different views of an afterlife life including one of God sitting on a throne attended by a squadron of angels with all the deceased blissfully basking in God’s brilliancy.

The humanistic view is based on the notion that since the beginning of time the vast majority of people, including the greatest and wisest of them, from vastly divergent cultures have all entertained some kind of belief in an afterlife. How could such a widespread instinct exist without the possibility of it being satisfied?

I imagine that when it’s my time to die the following scenario will play out.

I foresee no cure for death—at some point Soul will escape my bag of bones; it will take flight and speed into the light. Soul, which never really was “my” soul, will expand into an infinity beyond imagining. But before my soul takes flight I must go through the process of dying. The process can be as abrupt as a lightening strike or as prolonged as a lover’s absence. It can be as fearful as an assassin’s knife or as tranquil as a mother’s smile. My ideal death would be to lie down when the end is near and surrender to death’s sweet embrace. Regardless of how I die death will be welcome. If it’s painful then it will be a welcome release. If it’s the end of an illness without pain then I will cast off on a chorus of bon-voyages and with full awareness expand into the universe.

No time—no past—no future. I see from the beginning of time to the end of time. I see without fear, greed, lust and anger non-judgmentally. Unprismed eyes see the Light and I feel the ecstasy of a thousand roses offering themselves to me. I see universes forming and dying; my awareness expands into every universe and slips into every atom effortlessly. When I experience the rose with pure awareness, there is no separation of the rose from the universe. The observer, the rose, and the universe are one. I participate in the cosmic dance and I’m joyfully dancing, dancing, dancing. I partner with everything, including primordial consciousness. I view all the worlds, all the possibilities. In the eternal moment I see that in a billion years biological matter is incandescent with consciousness. The divide between life and death has been reduced to a filmy membrane which filters out matter as the soul passes on through to the other side. The universe is filled with the music of the spheres;

Before crossing over to the other side I wondered persistently about many things including the following: I wondered about Aldoux Huxley’s wondering about being born under one law, to another bound; vainly begot and yet forbidden vanity; created sick and commanded to be sound; he wondered “What meaneth Nature by these diverse laws, passion and reason, self-division’s cause?” I wondered why God was always “on our side” during wars, lynchings and massacres, ping-pong, football games and Monoply. Did God cast aside the other side? I wonder why there is so much violence—legal murders we call war, why galaxies gobble up their neighbors, why life feeds on life? Why ups AND downs. Why not just a steady improvement and movement towards perfection? I wondered if I would be reincarnated. I wondered why love can cause so much joy AND so much grief, pain and sorrow. I wondered why I wondered why; why couldn’t I just look away and let things be?

After crossing over to the other side I no longer wonder. With a glance I see with great clarity what lies behind the veil of wonderment. In a sidelong glance I’m aware of the past and future rolled up into the eternal now. Everything is known and seen and understood with infinite clarity—an infinity of “aha” moments—Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, love, ecstasy and authenticity. 

Awareness Exercise

Picture yourself on the planet Earth and visualize your atoms, particles, and underlying energy resonating and interacting with the energy of the Earth. Feel yourself at one with the Earth. Relax and just be aware without thinking or making judgments of any kind. Picture the Earth, a piece of dust floating in the black void, in the midst of billions of galaxies in black space. Let your awareness encompass the Earth, the solar system, the Milky Way, the universe, and finally, let your awareness be absorbed by the primordial energy. See it and feel it until it becomes as real for you as the rising sun

Picture yourself lying in the fetal position. Step outside your body and observe yourself lying there. Ask yourself, “What is me?”  Continue asking yourself, “What is me?” and get a feel for it so that you see, feel, and understand me.

          Imagine your left foot disappearing. Is your me diminished in any way? Next imagine your right foot disappearing. Is your me diminished? Imagine the rest of your body parts disappearing one by one. After each part disappears, ask yourself, “Is my me diminished?” Finally, when all your body parts have disappeared, including your head and brain, ask yourself, “Is my me diminished?”

Repeat the Awareness exercise, only this time imagine the disappearance, one by one, of your home, automobile, clothing, money, friends, relatives, job, the stars, sun and earth, and observe your me in the solitude of the cosmic sea. After each loss ask yourself, “Has my me been diminished?” Finally, when all your possessions and the universe have disappeared, ask yourself, “Is my me diminished?” See your me. Feel it. Can anything hurt it?

When all prisms drop I clearly see bright

Broad sails above the frothy foam and my arms

Open wide to embrace the undistorted light.



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