I was afraid of dying last night. Terrified. Full blown existential angst. It took me back to my childhood. I lay there trying to fathom why that fear was back again – my old enemy.
I realised that it is my “I” that is afraid. My ego; the confection that has spun up in this particular life of mine. I have throughout my life woken suddenly in the night with a sense that my heart has stopped – as it misses a beat – and with the immediacy of dying. Whilst it was frightening as a child and into my early adulthood, it disappeared as my faith grew that there is more beyond this life. (A faith built out of intense questioning). Indeed what lies beyond this virtual reality is all, everything. Not the nothing of our ego’s fear.
I am lucky because I have experienced good deaths. My mother had almost died and described her experience of moving toward light and love but being summoned back to this life – and her reluctance to return. This is of course common; but it’s difficult to be a doubting Thomas when your mother – a true glorious person – gifts you her personal experience. My father died after an operation and I experienced for the hours after his death his transcendental joy before disappearing. Literally he was bursting with excitement and joy before he finally left me. It was intense and real. Since then some part of the thought of death has been exciting – a way through the fundamental loneliness of life.
Lucky. Because I have known other deaths where there was fear, confusion and loss. Intensely painful rather than joyful, and I have seen how those deaths affect those left behind.
So, to last night..
I believe that our ego only exists in this particular life, like some kind of computer memory that fades when the machine is switched off. Of course my ego is terrified of death. “I” am not, however, my ego. I am part of all and will return to the everything beyond. In what way, is not for me to see here now, because our senses can only see “through a glass darkly”. I do know that in order to move beyond my fear, my work is to move beyond my ego, and back to the living and loving connection that continues and is what I anyway call God. I only use that word tentatively because it puts some people off – because many “religions” hijack this personification of all-that-is for their own purpose. Political manipulation.
A rose, however, is a rose by whatever name.
In any event, I offer my thoughts not to convert – but as a witness to hope.