Death and the Mind

The Matter of Mind

An Explorer’s Guide to the Labyrinth of the Mind

Master Djwhal Khul through Kathlyn Kingdon

Chapter 10: Death and the Mind

Pages 141-157

Death is the ultimate “mind trip.” Parts of the journey can only be described as hallucinogenic, although no reliance on chemical or biological substance is needed to provoke this incredible “mind-altering” experience. The way the mind functions in life sets the precedence for how it will function in death—at least in the initial part of the journey. The actual experience is determined in large part by the guidance—or lack thereof—provided by the conditions to which one has been acculturated, as well as the karmic predisposition to watching the mind unravel and dissolve.

The act of awareness separating itself from the physical body proves beyond question that the designated self is not the body. In life individuals may struggle with understanding just what the self is, often contemplating that, although it is not the body, it must reside somewhere in the body. Many allege that the self must reside somewhere in the brain. However, in millennia of surgical procedures having been contrived upon the brain (even as far back as ancient Egypt), no surgeons has ever found the self nor any neural demarcation in the tissue that might indicate the presence of a self. In fact, the act of dying proves that the notion of a self is not a part of neural processing, for the brain dies and rots. Even so, awareness is not impeded by brain death nor is this notion of self.

Experiencing the Death Process

It is perhaps useful to examine the process of dying at this point—less from the physical perspective, however, and more from the perspective of the awareness. Indeed much can be learned about living in coming to understand the transition of dying. Of course, other than from a physical perspective, what is often regarded as dying is not what is actually going on. It is appropriate and necessary to drop the cells from time to time for the issues that one seeks to clarify in a given life are in fact encoded in the cellular material. As the popular slogan put forth by body workers in the 1980s goes, “The issues are in the tissues!” Thus, one of the purposes for death is to free the awareness from the cellular encoding that one took in a given life. Every time the awareness releases a specific configuration of cells, prof is rendered to the awareness—which congealed for the experience—that the “I” is indeed not that cellular material, no matter how strongly identified that “I” might have been with the past cellular package. 

In like manner this “I,” while not the body, can neither be the mind. Indeed for most people, the sense of being an “I” is strongly grounded in the experience of mind, for it is the mind that recognizes the “I” and uses the “I” to project the bakchaks from other life experiences. Although there is unquestionably a functional relationship between the “I” and the mind, they are not the same thing. Ultimately, all will discover that there is, in fact, no “I,” even though awareness continues lifetime to lifetime and throughout the interesting spaces in between.

As one nears the point of death, radical changes take place in the mind. In the first place, the five senses begin shutting down, which radically shifts one’s ability to connect and communicate with others around him or her who are not dying. As the physical senses begin to close off, the dying person becomes less responsive to stimulation through touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. Of course, person to person, this process amends itself depending on several factors: the person dying, the disease or physical complication that is facilitating the death process, the lessons that are arising in the moment and the ability to grasp the spiritual dimension that is dawning.

All of these factors will be somewhat complicated by the karmic factors in place from past death experiences, the cultural conceptions regarding dying and the greater or lesser ability to apply any new and/or useful skills gleaned in the life that is coming to a close. As the organs also shut down, the metabolic, circulatory and respiratory processes undergo radical changes as well in order to facilitate the release of awareness that governed each and every cell in the body. In some cases, the actual point of transition comes quickly. In other situations, an individual can remain on the precipice of death for days. This is so because of the factors and influences mentioned above, as well as the relative degree to which a given package of cells are able to release the awareness they hold. As in every other matter in life, the differences demonstrated from person to person can be quite wide ranging.

As the awareness parts company with cellular material, the separation is radically noticeable at the physical level but less observable from the perspective of the awareness. In fact, because the “I” has been accustomed to referencing itself by its own physical mass, it continues to do so even though technically the two are no longer symbiotically joined. In the initial phase, the awareness is drawn to a vibrant white light which is so compelling as to block out awareness of any and all other stimuli. Initially, the awareness of the bright light is actually stimulated by the absence of oxygen to the optic nerves embedded deep within the brain. This is a wonderful service of a dying brain, for it physiologically mimics the soul’s journey into light in such an intense way that the dying individual cannot help but pay attention.

The Transition through the Tunnel

          What follows has often been described by those who have had near death experiences as a rapid transit through a brilliant tunnel of light. The light is so compelling that the individual has no awareness of anything but the searing quality of the light and the sense of rapid movement. Most perceive they are being hurled through space—granted, very bright space—at an uncontrollable rate of speed. What is actually happening is that the awareness is rapidly expanding, for it is no longer contained in a finite package defined by time and space.

          Just as the dying process varies from person to person, so does the level of expansion. Although everyone has the sense of moving very fast and covering a great amount of perceived distance, the actual degree of expansion is dependent upon one’s level of spiritual attainment. Clearly one who has accomplished great expansiveness in life is capable of greater expansion after life. However, the greater the prison of suffering that confined one in life, the less the capacity for expansion into light after death.

          What is actually happening is that awareness, unbounded by physical tissues, is trying to expand to encompass the cosmos. If one were capable of undergoing this shift in consciousness purely from contemplative mind, the experience would be direct and immediate and likely one would have some understanding of exactly what is happening. This experience is somewhat similar to clasping one’s fist very tightly and then suddenly opening the hand to its most extended position. In one moment the hand is tight and contracted and, in the next, it is stretched open to its widest capacity. However, since most individuals live their lives in the analytical mind mode (which functions linearly), the perception of the experience follows suit—that is, it appears to the mind that one is being dragged or hurled through a great expanse at an incomprehensible velocity.

          Of course, if the one who is dying has no understanding of the process, that lack of knowledge also informs the process. Rather than feeling at peace with the process and cogently curious, one might find the tunnel experience terrifying. In this case the tunnel journey seems to create an out-of-control state that exacerbates existing fears, whatever their type. Just as in life, success in death requires surrender to the process and to the forces that are operating in the moment. For those who fear and fight the process, however, even the journey into light can be perceived as a tortuous event.   

          What has also been happening in the transition through the tunnel is the opening of the psychic centers. In the dying process—particularly for those who die in a comatose or hypo-lucid state—the psychic centers have been gradually opening as the gates of awareness (the five senses) have been closing. In individuals who die suddenly, however, the psychic centers open in the perceived journey through the tunnel of light. By the time the rapid transit appears to have stopped, the psychic centers are generally open and are functioning much like the five physical senses previously mentioned. This allows for perception to continue, even though there are no bodily sense organs operating through which perception can occur. Thus the notion of the “I” is still alive and well, so to speak, and one is able to observe and participate in the experiences that continue to occur.

As the perception of soaring through the tunnel of light comes to a close, most perceive themselves as still in their familiar body, often looking down at their own body and even seeing themselves dressed in certain items of clothing. Of course, what is actually happening is that the mind is projecting a familiar image of the “I” which it believes and attempts to reinforce. At this point, usually the awareness begins to look around and describe to the mind what is going on. This is often the great state of peace and calm knowing about which those who have had near death experiences speak after their awareness returns to their physical bodies.

Generally, one finds oneself suspended in an unimaginable and oceanic continuum of grace and pure love. It is in this state of suspended animation that one remembers why she took birth. Often, one will become aware of all the opportunities of love that surrounded her in life—even if she was unable to see them while in the moment of their arising. More profoundly, one remembers that she came from this oceanic love and likely took birth to remind others of the infinite force of love from which all sprang and to which all return again and again.

Undergoing the Life Review Process

It is from this experience of being suspended within unimaginable love and grace that most do what has been called the life review. For many of course, this process actually starts prior to dying, and if one is fortunate enough to have the time and clarity to begin the review process before separating from the body, it is very helpful to the process that comes after death. It is indeed a provocative moment to experience oneself suspended in the very love that support the cosmos. If one can open to the powerful force of all that love operating upon the “I,” one can open to enlightenment as well. You could say that this is the first opportunity to become enlightened after leaving the physical body. Although there will be other opportunities afforded as well, this is perhaps the sweetest.

Of course, if one has the karma to recoil from love rather than opening to it, then one would not likely be able to review his own life from the stance of compassion. Rather that one might feel the effects of all his non-loving moments in the life just vacated. He would undoubtedly feel the pain of those moments, but rather than hold all in compassionate neutrality, he might project the experience to be some cruel awareness separate from the “I” as sitting in judgment of him. In other words, although pain may be experienced from this incredible place of love, it is felt in a context that neither invites compassionate review nor engenders compassion for the return flight. Clearly, in this event, this one would not likely be able to open to enlightenment, even though surrounded by and/or suspended in enlightenment. Thus the greater one’s capacity to open to love in life, the greater one’s potential for dissolving into love at this important stage of the journey.

It is in this beautiful state of suspension in divine light and love that one often meets her spiritual teacher, guides, angelic beings and a host of others willing to reflect the infinite love of creation to her as she makes the transition. Again this part of the experience is directly proportional to one’s ability to open to the Infinite. If the encounter thus far is to be an NDE (near death experience), this is the point at which she will be “called back” to the physical realm.

Many will experience a special teaching or blessing and then be instructed to return to the physical body they left. Others will feel that they were granted an opportunity to “peer into heaven” but will recognize that there is so much more they are capable of continuing back in physical reality. Either way, getting back into a body can be an interesting experience—particularly if the body is encoded with physical pain and/or impairment. In such situations, the one who comes back does so from a perspective of kindness and generosity toward those they may be capable of aiding.

The Stupor Phase

To those for whom the experience is not an NDE but the real thing, after the life review is complete, there will follow a stupor state in which the mind begins the unraveling process. During this time—which is often about the space of four earth days—the mind literally splits into two. It is often during this stage that one begins to realize that he or she has died, which can be quite shocking if not realized prior to this point. For many there is a feeling of being caught between the realms. Although they may actually desire to return to their loved ones, as well as to the myriad of things left undone, they realize they cannot do so. Some individuals may actually feel that they are being torn apart, with part of the mind adhering to the past, usually wishing or trying to change the past, and part of the mind attaching to the future, desiring to move from this state of paralysis. If the experience of paralysis is great enough, it will likely be followed by a sense of losing consciousness—much like fainting is experienced in physical form. Such provides a loss of contact with both the past and the present.

Should things run amok in this phase of the journey and one becomes obsessed with the physical plane—perhaps even denying his own death—he might find himself entering himself entering the condition known as an earthbound spirit. In this condition he actually experiences himself almost identically to the way he experienced himself when in physical form. That is he will continue to project the image of the “I” in a familiar way, complete with remembered clothing and all manner of conventional familiarities. The intense focus on the physical realm and the effort to resurrect himself in the familiar physical form gives rise to a state of entrapment. Little by little, he will recognize that he has died but the intense focus on trying to recreate himself as physically alive prevents him from going on with the journey. Often individuals in this state require a medium or one skilled in such areas to release them from their trapped condition.

Of course it must be said here that this trapped state is a state projected by the mind. Although it cannot be said to literally be “real,” clearly it is really experienced. While some traditions would classify this condition as one of the regions of hell, it is important to recognize that the state has been created by the mind’s projections. Just because one dies in a physical sense, that physical death does not limit the mind’s ability to project, for some have spent hundred of earth years as an earthbound spirit.

Since the projection comes from the mind (based on its prior physical experiencing), release from this state or condition requires the services of one who is still in physical form to facilitate the type of liberation. In truth, some in this state are able to recognize the projection of the earthbound condition and simply release it from their field of awareness. In such cases, that one would have the experience of being dramatically “liberated” in the moment of awakening to the projected field.

It is important to understand that any time in life or death the mind can release a projection, freedom is available. That being said, the perception of what freedom should look like is for the most part also a projection. Situations like the one mentioned above (the earthbound spirit releasing its projected condition) make clear the necessity for having a method of working with the mind. Challenging the mental projections is a skill of profound magnitude in both life and death. One need not wait until finding himself or herself in an earthbound state to dismantle the karmic projections. Indeed the methods that work in life can and likely will serve in death as well. Just as what one learns about death can serve one in life, so what one learns in life can be very useful in death. In this case—dismantling the projection—the process is twofold: learning the method and remembering to apply it.

The Journey of the Bardo

Upon the close of the stupor phase, one has the sense of suddenly being awakened. The exact experience of this awakening varies widely, depending on the spiritual development of the individual consciousness. For some it may appear to be the gentle voice of the beloved teacher calling to awaken the aspirant. On the other end of the spectrum, one might experience the awakening as if awakening from a horrifying nightmare. In this latter case, he arises in fear, sending that the nightmare is still continuing even though he feels awake.

While these two examples represent the ends of the experiential spectrum, every imaginable condition of awakening that falls between is open to experience as well. As this awakening happens, the mind reflects back to the state it experienced at the point of death where the karma was being set for the lifetime to follow. This mind state is recreated and the journey of the bardo begins. The word bardo simply refers to an in-between state. In this case, the term applies to the “time” or experiential flow between lives. Just as life may be experienced as a journey, so the bardo also takes the form of a journey. It is a journey into the profound creative recesses of the mind—although to most, it may not appear as such.

One interesting aspect about this particular journey is that there are no diversions along the way, there is only the “I” and the mind, which becomes the field of experiencing. The different spiritual traditions that teach about this in-between space do so using terminology relevant to the specific tradition. Suffice it to say, however, the journey is fueled by raw creative energy which operates upon the points of non-clarity that still remain in the belief structure. Much like the experiences reported in the ancient Egyptian initiations, the mind is cracked open and whatever beliefs and fears remain unaligned with truth are manifested by the intense creative forces at play.

As the many experiences arise in this journey, they will appear to be coming from something outside the parameters of the mind. For example, one might see her teacher beckoning from a distance. Seeing the familiar and kind face, she might begin to move toward her teacher. However, if she was afflicted in life with a doubting mind, the apparition may change suddenly, seeming to present her with a thousand beings who look like her teacher—still beckoning but perhaps appearing to laugh with the shift in apparition.

In this type of experience, it is the reactivation of doubting mind that causes the apparition to change, and if she is able to recognize the projecting mind at work, the apparition will likely change again. This succeeding change, however, will not be based in doubting mind, not will it stimulate doubting mind. However, should she identify with doubting mind (perhaps as in life), the apparition is likely to become more confusing and more doubt-producing. She might attempt going to the teacher, only to suddenly find herself in a strange maze with all the paths leading to dead ends.

If fear is also present, instead of dead ends, the maze may present paths that end in dangerous or profoundly frightening outcomes. Again if she is able to recognize the apparent maze as a mental projection, it disappears. Moment to moment, she will be greeted with opportunities to see projecting mind without the diversions of life—such as the telephone ringing or some other event arising to pull your focus from the process at hand.

The directness and rapidity of projecting mind without diversion can, of course, be quite intense. Frequently the one negotiating the bardo journey does not see through the mind’s activity, believing whatever appears to be real. At times his fears may take the form of monsters or demons. Once again, if these apparent beings can be seen as extensions of his mind—originating from the “I” and therefore a part of the “I”—then both the apparition and the “I” begin to dissolve. However, in the event he believes in the apparition, the “I” becomes more firmly fixed, perhaps seeing itself in opposition to the characters of the apparition and fleeing from them or fighting with them. In this case the notion of duality is emphasized, which will only create more apparitions with symbolic characters arising to invite insight and awakening.

In a different kind of experience, one might hear her teacher’s voice calling her name. Perhaps she turns in the apparent direction of the voice but, instead of seeing her teacher, she may experience an intensely bright light—so bright, in fact, as to have the feel of a laser beam or even a knife blade cutting into flesh. This light may be surrounded by lesser lights of soft colors that also seem to beckon to her. How the mind projects meaning on to the experience of the lights will determine in large part how she is likely to negotiate the mind’s terrain. If the laser beam feels as if it is cutting through the flesh—even though the connection to flesh has been dropped—she might project that the laser light is dangerous and try to flee from it. On the other hand, if the mind projects a scenario in which behind the laser beam is actually the teacher, then she will move toward the light, willing to endure the pain but likely recognizing it too as a projection. In this case, the laser light, the pain and the “I” begin to dissolve.

Perhaps in yet another experience, the mind projects a salivating monster which seems to be chasing the self and an angel. If he believes the projection, he might attempt running to the angel for protection from the monster. However such a belief is ill placed, for as he approaches the angel in desperation and fear, the angel dissolves. On the other hand, if he can recognize that both images are mental projections, he is more likely to turn toward the salivating monster and greet it in love and compassion. To do so would dissolve the projection.

Know that whatever one fears in life will greet her in death. In like manner, whatever one hates in life, she will sooner or later become. A common bardo experience is that of seeing oneself become a monster. Whatever one hated in life is symbolically recreated in the bardo as a monster. Having hated, she may be forced to see herself become the object of that hatred or she might simply see herself becoming the hated monster. For example, if she hated snakes in life, she might have an experience in the bardo of not only becoming a viper but of becoming one that hideously destroys and eats Buddhas, or angels or children. Again, if she can see that what arises in the experience is but an apparition of mind projected into the experience at hand, all the images will dissolve, thus creating an opening for healing—possibly even enlightenment.

Preparing for the Bardo Journey

In the traditions that teach aspirants how to negotiate the bardo, most teach that it need not be a frightening experience. In the bardo, just as in life, the most significant part of transcendence is simply to watch rather than follow the mind. The training given to negotiate the bardo well is identical to the training given to negotiate life well. In truth the bardo experience is related to and reflective of the life experience. The main difference is that the bardo journey is compressed and lacks the diversions so prevalent in life, which divert attention from the mind and its activities.

In life, most fall prey to the illusion that if one does not master a particular level of consciousness at a given turn, there will always be another turn to do so just up ahead. Believing this illusion, some become lazy in doing their spiritual work, feeling that there will always be time later to do the work. Because of the intense nature of bardo experiences, however, putting off one’s transcendent work simply is not an option. In life, as in the bardo, suffering comes from projecting mind. In life, however, this investigation of mind and the dismantling of projections is easily diverted, resulting in procrastination toward the very work that allows suffering to cease. In this case, one must again face the projections as they arise in the bardo. There is good news here, however, since one applies the same antidotes to suffering in the bardo that one would have used in life. Because the training for negotiating both life and the bardo is consistent, the antidote for suffering must also be consistent.

  In certain Eastern cultures wherein the aspirant trains in life for a successful journey in death, meditation training is recognized to teach the skills necessary to interrupt the projection activity of the mind. Indeed, if meditation is efficacious in life, how can it be otherwise in death? Thus spiritual students are trained to observe the mind. When a thought or apparition arises, he learns to simply drop the thought and return to a still placement of mind. The placement can be on silence, or on an image (yantra) on even on a set of words (mantra). Indeed the meditator can place his full attention on an internal image of the teacher’s face. As long as he holds to the image with full concentration, his mind simply cannot project. The student is taught to return his concentration to the object or image that is used in meditation when chaotic or confusing thoughts arise. Following this, instruction is given to remember the basics: (1) when the mind projects, these is suffering; (2) suffering arises in both life and death because one is attached to outcomes, either through desire or aversion; (3) since suffering has been completely transcended by the great spiritual masters of all times and all traditions, cessation of suffering is clearly possible; and (4) the way to stop suffering is through training the mind.

It is important to remember that the journey through the bardo is an opportunity to transcend all the levels of projecting mind that may have been missed or avoided in life. As the projections are dismantled, the mind dissolves into a profound awareness. Of course, this is precisely what one tries to accomplish in life, for the mind’s projecting activities actually obscure access to profound awareness. Mind is like a tangled ball of yarn where the strands of clear awareness are caught in the projections of lifetimes. Of course mind attempts to imitate this clear awareness but it is limited in both function and scope by the projections it supports.

To use another metaphor, the mind can be likened to clouds. Consciousness, however—one’s true nature in life and in death—is vast and open like the sky. Suffering arises whenever one identifies with the clouds (projections), for her true nature does not shift with the winds of change. When her identity is so remarkably misplaced, suffering simply cannot be avoided. As she learns to use mental projections in a skillful way, however, the payoff extends beyond life—even beyond death.

As should be obvious by now in this text, if the mind is active, it is projecting. Learning to release the projections that do not serve to bring about enlightenment is clearly a skill of a well-trained mind. Yet there is another skill along these same lines that takes one to the next step and that is learning to use projecting mind to take him ever nearer the goal. By way of a life example, suppose for a moment that he projects that another person is angry with him. From this projection, his mind takes off on its own journey, perhaps additionally projecting that the other is wrong and that the perceived anger is unjustified. Next his mind projects all the wonderful things the “I” has done for this other over the years and begins to feel critical of the other. From this point, his mind goes on and on, projecting, projecting and projecting. Clearly these projections make no contribution to either the enlightenment of himself (the projector of record) or the other person. The truth is that he suffers under the weight of his own projections and it is likely that they will trigger suffering for the one who receives them as well.

One way to stop the suffering is to recognize projections as they arise in thought, then simply drop or release the thought or image just as one would do in the practice of meditation. Imagine you are sitting in meditation and a thought arises. In that moment you have a choice to make: either go with the flow of the thought and perhaps create a protracted fantasy, or simply notice the arising thought and drop it, returning to quiet mind. In like manner, when a projection arises, you can either go with the flow of the projection, creating protracted fantasies, or you can choose to simply drop it in the moment of arising. Clearly this latter practice trains the mind until it becomes facile with the practice, which will ultimately free the mind from its projections, fantasies and preoccupations with suffering. Going with the thought flow however can only perpetuate suffering. This practice of dropping the projection is a significant skill to master in life since it works as well in the bardo for eliminating suffering as it does in the course of life. Although alone it may not open one to the full experience of enlightenment, it does at least get one out of the zone of suffering.

One can go even further with this practice, replacing the mind’s original projection with the projection that a Buddha might have. For example, after noticing that the mind has presented the projection that another is angry and after then dropping the projection, one might then project, “How profound is the light of awareness in this one!” or “Can I see the Buddha within this other part of myself?” Replacing ego projections with enlightened projections is beneficial for both oneself and the recipient of the projection as well. This practice is remarkably helpful as one prepares for his bardo journey. Just imagine what might happen if, when the monster apparitions arise, he could see each as an emanation of the Buddha!

Of course, one cannot experience enlightenment until she is able to project enlightenment. Further, if she can project enlightenment from the bardo, the projection is as empowered by the creative forces at work in the bardo as are, say, the projections of fear. These creative forces, if powerful enough to cause her fears and doubts to manifest with profound reality and ferocity, can surely produce no less of an effect on her projections of enlightenment! When she realizes enlightenment in the bardo, the whole experience of the bardo dissolves into a direct experience of the pure realm, sometimes also called nirvana.

For those who do not realize enlightenment in the bardo—indeed most do not—the journey from projection to projection continues, often with projections arising and manifesting so quickly that they seem to overlap each other. One is presented with a rush of continual material as his mind unwinds, offering up all its projections for manifestation. This process does empty the mind of its content, which should facilitate complete dissolution of the “I” through the continually changing images and experiences.

All too often however, the bardo journeyer clings to the “I” in an attempt to establish some point of reference for the rapid assault on the mind. He may forget to apply the methods that can allow the mind to become completely transparent and dissolve. Usually this “I” clinging arises from one form of fear or another. Some fears may have been carried from the previous death, others perhaps arose in his life just completed and still others come from a lack of knowledge and/or understanding about the process he is undergoing. In all cases however, his fear was allowed to take charge because his mind believed what it projected.

The Awareness is Released for Rebirth

As mentioned above, as the mind is emptied of projections and “I”-ness, a veil ultimately descends over consciousness as the bardo journey comes to an end. The whole process takes approximately fifty earth days, although the experience may seem much longer. At that time the awareness is released for rebirth. Just as in life, it is possible to take a wrong turn in the bardo, which can complicate the journey or even extend it beyond the normal fifty earth days. However, in most instances the journey is completed in that time. For most the opportunities for enlightenment in the bardo pass unrecognized and the cyclic pattern of existence simply continues. As mentioned above, the forces of karma drive most to seek immediate rebirth. For those spiritually awake enough to accomplish such, there is opportunity for integrating the bardo journey during the completion of the gestation period that follows on the physical level to prepare the next body.

Toward the end of the journey, there is a phase where the awareness—which at this point cannot exactly be called an “I”—is encouraged to invoke an appropriate birth. To those who are most awake spiritually, this is an opportunity to participate fully in the cocreation of the life to follow. For most however, the desire to take physical form once again is so compelling that any available option is taken. Unfortunately in such circumstances, cocreative participation is ignored or neglected—particularly if the bardo experience was viewed as a chaotic or an out-of-control experience. For the less awakened, the physical gestation time may be perceived as an opportunity for a seeming much needed rest from the bardo experience. In this case, it is likely spent in a state of stupor, wherein there is no availability to harvest the gems from the journey. Thus one may be left with only the relative fear factor that was allocated to the experience.

For the one who is awake to the journey and to the distillation process following, however, the cocreative process is replete with possibilities. To the one thus awakened, an opportunity unfolds to ascertain the situation and circumstances wherein she might contribute the most goodness and wisdom in the life to follow. The awakened state also allows a kind of overviewing that sees, not only past energies that are leading up to the point in time when one will be born, but the potential outcomes of the creative forces in place from the perspective of any given point in time. In other words, this overviewing is done from a perspective outside the boundaries of time and space, which opens the range of possibilities unimaginably.

Stay Awake!

The most important element in negotiating the creative journey from the point of death in one life to rebirth in the following life is staying awake. Even while having his students deep in meditation, the Buddha would loudly call out, “Wake up!” Clearly this could prove a very startling experience to a meditator but was nonetheless effective. When the startle response is triggered, attention is single pointed and intensified. This is the kind of attention the Buddha was trying to teach his disciples to apply all the time since such is what provides the opportunity for seeing through the mind. Further it is probably unrealistic to think one could hold that kind of single-pointed focus in the bardo, where appearances are so intense, if he has not mastered it in life.

Indeed both the journey through a life and the journey through the bardo between lives exist to offer countless opportunities to awaken to the presence of essence seeking to shine through the clouds of mind. The Buddha’s call to awaken is pertinent to any state in which the mind finds itself, whether negotiating an apparent lifetime or an apparent bardo transit. Although many face the prospect of dying with tremendous fear, resistance and/or denial, there are salient reasons for approaching death with an unabashed curiosity. If one can remain awake and alert through the dying process and the journey that follows, an unprecedented opportunity opens to see and know what really is.

Just as one enters a perceived tunnel of profound light as one exits the body, so one has a near identical experience in the process of being born. As a new being enters and negotiates the birth canal, there is a point where the umbilicus is tightly pinched and the flow of oxygen to the baby is cut off. As oxygen is withheld from the brain, the optic nerves respond in a manner identical to the response noted above in the dying process. In other words, the infant sees a bright light as she is expelled from the birth canal. In a normal birth, the experience of “going into the light” is followed by the crowning of the head and the drawing out of the infant from the cramped quarters of the womb into what appears to be a vast spaciousness. Thus, in both entering and leaving a life, the journey is marked by profound light and exposure to unimaginable spaciousness—the true nature of everything.

There is one other human experience that is ushered in by the experience of profound light and boundless spaciousness—the dawning of one’s enlightenment. As we have noted in our study, the realization of one’s divine radiance is always available in every moment, whether at the moment of birth, in the journey of a life, at the moment of death or in the bardo transit. Indeed the complex and poignant, if unconscious, physiological occurrences that provoke awareness of great light, marking both the entrance and exit points of each life, are set in place to prepare the evolving consciousness for the ultimate experience of light—the realization of enlightenment.

Copyright © Light Technology

P.O. Box 3540

Flagstaff, AZ 86003

About new desert

Nurturing the Gift of Seeking is about a spiritual "destination," a journey within, a new beginning, that eventually takes us where we are meant to arrive. Some call it Home, yet I am not sure what Home means, and where it is. Enjoy the journey, dear Ones! On this journey, what matters, first and foremost, is our seeking spirit. And the seed of perseverance--or faith, if you will. Happy journey, dear fellow Sisters and Brothers!
This entry was posted in Authors, Quotes on consciousness and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Death and the Mind

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s