The sun comes up and the sun goes down in my skull. Out of one of my temples the sun rises, and into the other the sun sets. The stars shine in my brain; ideas, people, animals browse in my temporal head; songs and weeping fill the twisted shells of my ears and storm the air for a moment. My brain blots out, and all, the heavens and the earth, vanish.
Today is May the 4th. It is Star Wars Day (May the Force Be with You!).
Today is the 4-year anniversary of the death of our son, Zachary.
Zachary was born on Halloween and died on May the 4th. He always had a special affinity for rituals of depth connectedness.
Today the lines are blurred in my consciousness between this world of time and space and physicality and another realm of Timelessness, Invisible Presence, and Quantum Force. I am not as clear today what is "real" and what is "not real."
Yet, I grasp that the journey-of-depth is an interior practice of embracing more and more "Reality." This journey is somehow tied closely to what we each decide to take "personally." What is it within our consciousness we choose to literally "give our attention" What is real Death is a special assault upon most of that which we human beings choose to identify as "real" and likewise upon most of that which we choose to embrace "personally."
The question for me is not "where does someone "go" when they die" A clearer question is "where does someone go in my consciousness when they die"
When someone with whom I am personally connected dies, do I assign this individual to the realm of "time," and therefore a past-tense category of "dead" Or, do I assign this individual in my consciousness, and therefore the attention with which I attend to them, to Timelessness For it is only in this realm of Timelessness that we truly "meet" and share our now-transformed relationship. It is only in the realm of Timelessness that I can re-encounter the loved one in their essential state as a "Messenger of the Deep."
When our son Zachary, at age 26, died, he became for me a Messenger of the Deep.
Zachary was real. I passed out cigars at his birth. My wife spent lots of time teaching him to read and do math and regularly appeared in his classroom to help him make it through the second grade. I taught him to brush his teeth and ride a bicycle. While he was in college Zachary and I would walk the dog around the neighborhood and discuss his studies and vocational plans. I consulted with him throughout his deployment in the Iraq War. When Zachary was married I got to sit in a front row. During his final year of life, I slept in his room during the night shift at the University of Nebraska Medical Center where he was being treated for cancer. Many mornings we would walk through the hospital corridors pushing his chemo drip contraption up and down the halls while discussing his dreams for the future. I rested my hand over his heart as he took some of his last breaths.
Zachary was real. Zachary was and is "personal." Four years after his death, to me, Zachary is still "real" and still "personal."
Through Zachary, I have learned and am learning to consort with the dead.
If you were to accuse me of simply being a delusional, grieving, heart-broken father unable to "let go," I am certain you would be correct. However, I invite you to look deeper beneath the surface of such obvious human pain, loss, and simple conclusions, and identify within yourself the incendiary mix that is always present when the Infinite becomes entangled with the finite; when transparency to Timelessness is revealed in the events of time. It is in this place and in this consciousness that The Force and The Presence appear.
I realize that lots of people "lose" loved ones but with enough "time" return to "normal." We return to normal life immersed in time and space and practice forgetting the intrusive event and the "absent" loved one. Our human propensity is to assign the deceased to "time" and therefore the past tense. We do this rather than accept an invitation, from the one who is no longer in time, to go on a journey-of-depth as we practice a connection with Timelessness; a connection with That-Which-Is-Forever..That-Which-Is-Infinite.
When Zachary became a messenger of the deep, because of the reality he is in my life, he invited me, seduced me, recruited me, cajoled me, enticed me, to venture out and join him in the Infinite; to join him in Timelessness; to join him in a connection with That-Which-Has-Not-Beginning-And-Has-Not- End yet is present in every Now-Moment to which I choose to give my attention. The Invitation extends to live my life in this place, and, in so doing to experience the fullness and the transformation that in my previous time-bound state and consciousness I mostly ignored.
In my deep talk, Zachary is the first one I acknowledge upon waking consciousness, "Good Morning, Zachary." We communicate directly. He is the last one to receive my gratitude as I enter sleep at night, "Thank youthank youthank you." Zachary is the one with whom I consult when whatever interior disturbance brings me back into semi-awareness in the middle of the night or when I begin to feel sorry for an illusion called "myself" during the waking day. Zachary is an ever-present counsel managing the affairs of my life from a place of depth I would otherwise be unwilling to venture.
All of us are capable of a direct relationship with Ultimate Reality. However, most of us are assisted in this relationship by a mediator, especially a mediator that looks like us and to which we are personally identified, a mediator that can guide us with authenticity on our journey into the deeps which otherwise we might not give our attention.
I was raised on the stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Moses, and other Biblical characters. I loved the "stories." I was early in life invited and indoctrinated to "love Jesus." All of this I did willingly and joyfully. As I emerged into adulthood I also came to appreciate the life wisdom of the Tao and Lao Tzu, the depth practices of Mohammad, the interior guidance of the Buddha, and the profound perspective of many other Masters from the Wisdom Traditions. These great teachers all remain integrated into the core of who I am. I appreciate each of them.
But, I knew Zachary. Zachary was "real!" Zachary was my baby boy and my adult son at his death in 2008.
Many depth masters of various traditions became personally involved in an entangled relationship with a dead teacher. You may be able to think of some examples from your own life or depth-seeking tradition
Soren Kierkegaard points out that only the guidance and counsel of such a "transfigured one" is trustworthy because their lives in time and space are complete and they are now unchangeable and unaffected by the whims of human existence.
This practice of consorting with the dead allows one to become personally entangled with another who has become a Messenger of the Deep; an "other" whose reality is unquestioned but whose existence in time and space and physicality is now transformed. This entanglement allows the one still living in time and space and physicality to become personally involved with the Invisible, the Infinite, and the interior. It is in some such relationship that the interior journey is accelerated and sustained.
I have come to the conclusion that consorting with the dead may provide the gateway to authenticity. Yet, we who sustain a broken heart are often reluctant to re-open a wound associated with the "loss."
It has been my observation, and has become my experience, that there is an ontological sorrow always present in the authentic life fully lived. This foundational and fundamental sorrow is inevitable and unavoidable. This sorrow is the consequence of opening oneself to become fully entangled "in love" with another, with a something, with a creation of this world of time and space and physicality. In the wake of the inevitable death of all such contingent manifestations is an ontological sorrow.
Ontological sorrow is the gateway to the authenticity of a relationship to the Real. Grief, sorrow, and a broken heart can deliver us beyond where the mind can venture to a connection with Timelessness where nothing is lost and we are reunited with the Wholeness that is our authentic home.
Today Zachary invites me to find the fullness of my life by living always in the Light of the Infinite (the place he dwells).
May the Force Be with You!