How am I really? Checking in deeply; observing for yourself your self. I invite you to do this now… and often. How is your body? How is your heart? How is your mind? Are you scattered? Are you fully present? Just breathe. Just breathe. Becoming present with the breath calls the scattered parts of us Home.
Who is the I that is coming Home? We are all One, we are all unique. The personality, the essence, the spirit of you the individual is real. How are you?
If you are, like so so many of us, feeling scattered and stressed then know that you are not alone. When we all checked in this morning on the Red Tent End of Life student call the invitation seemed to be to TRUST. Trusting, trusting… all is well.
The origins of the word “trust” is in Old Norse meaning “strong”; there is something that is strong even when we are at our weakest. Something that is unscatterable when we are scattered. There is that part of us that was never born and never dies and even when we feel dissolved by life and lost and do not know who we are “something” holds in trust our very essence; because we return to it time and again.
When we stand at the threshold of death with someone, or even at our own threshold; the great Unknown stretches out before us. Ever since we contracted out of the formless and unknowable into our human form at our conception we have been expanding through our lives back to that formless state. And yet, here we are, the moment of the body’s final dissolution. Who are we? And who will we be?
Observe someone with dementia in the final stages of life. Their loved ones describe a living death and a living bereavement because the person that they were has been relinquished. The roles that they were have been forgotten and discarded like Inanna’s clothes as she enters the underworld. The person no longer remembers being your mother, sister, friend or wife. They are, as the Buddha encourages us all to do, dying before they die. And yet, how often do we see, beyond the roles and masks of the personality, a twinkle in the eye or a smile or just a presence that is still “them”, even at death? “Something” endures that is still a unique expression of That.
A theme this week in many people I have spoken with is the idea that “the more I know myself the closer I feel to (God/Truth/higher power/Love)” and “the more I know myself, the easier relationships become”. It’s “as if” knowing oneself and knowing (what you conceive to be) God is the same thing!
It brings to mind the line (it’s either from the Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishads, forgive me scholars maybe my dementia has begun!) but it’s in reference to knowing “God” (whatever you conceive that to be) and the line is:
“Knowledge of That, knowledge of which, make all things known”
Because there is so much more unknown in this universe than is known. What we “know” in the limited mind even with the vastness of human genius and the advancements of science… there is limitless Unknown out there whether we like the idea of that or not. And being with “not knowing”; sitting with uncertainty and more importantly sitting with someone as they face the ultimate uncertainty and not trying to impose what we hope is true upon them… is essential to being with death.
If we seek knowledge then better to seek knowledge of That, knowledge of which, makes all things known. And what better way to know That than to know oneself?
All those souls I have seen pass over from dementia; even at their deathbed there was at their very core an essential nature which was still “them”. Their exquisite pearl, polished by hardship, washed clean by tears and radiant in Love. Never more perfect than at that fragile and barely perceptible threshold between advanced dementia and death.
Just as “death and dying” is a teacher so “dementia” is a teacher; what it teaches me is that we can die before we die such that we are not attached at death to anything which we might call life; slipping gently into rest with grace in the face of the unknown.
The invitation is into the paradox – of knowing oneself and letting one’s self go. The mind cannot conceive of that. Is it not ever more about releasing attachment to the illusions of what we think we are in favour of what endures. Laying down the quick fixes and instant gratification in favour of sustained inner peace. The going beyond the selfies into the Self.
And trusting, that beyond the superficial reflections of the self… there is something magnificent at your core.
Trust, that you are inherently worthy of trust. And that your weakness, your fraility and humanity, makes you strong. Trust, in yourself, that you will endure and overcome all things when you have faith… in yourself.