The fire or the fuel?

Here we archive threads whose time for rest seems to us to have come. All visitors are welcome to read here, but no new threads or posts can be made in this space. Thus, these threads have earned a bit of peace and tranquility, and it behooves us all to grant them that.
User avatar
zoofence
Site Admin
Posts: 187
Joined: September 7th, 2002, 3:07 pm

The fire or the fuel?

Postby zoofence » May 26th, 2005, 1:41 pm

Anna has been reading Life After Life, a book about near-death experiences. Naturally, that got us to talking about death generally. Then, yesterday morning, I happened to drive by a cemetery, and as I did so, a car driven by an older man came out of the cemetery and pulled into the road, ahead of me. As he did so, I suddenly felt deep despair and anguish. Perhaps he had just visited the grave site of a loved one, and as our paths crossed, I picked up on his emotions. Or perhaps it was just coincidence.

In any case, that encounter got me to thinking all the more about death, and reminded me of some of the email messages TZF has received on the subject, most of which ask the question, “What happens when we die?”

The Teachers all tell us that’s the wrong question, because it places our focus on the physical body, which having been born, will die, when we ought to be focused on our True Self, which, having never been born, will never die. In a word, “Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22).

Or, death is not the opposite of life, for life has no opposite; death is the opposite of birth.

All of this brought to mind the Gospels Teacher’s question posed to the disciples: “Who do you say I am?” In a reply that has generated numerous interpretations (and not a little bloodshed), Peter replies (as I hear him), “You are the Awakened One”, to which the Teacher responds (as I hear him), “You have seen what I Am Teaching”.

Now, the flip-side or companion to the question “Who do you say I am?” is, “Who do you say you are?” How we answer those two questions determines everything.

Our lives ... and our death ... are shaped by who and what we believe we are, who and what we believe God is, what we believe is the Nature of the Universe. All of that is the stuff out of which our lives are made, for our lives and our world are our selves perceived outwardly.

So, in a very real sense the answer to the question, “What happens when I die?” is, “Who do I say I am?” If we identify with the physical body, we will identify with its death, and I suppose we will almost instantly create another reality that reflects our continuing identity with the physical.

But to the extent that we have released our attachment to and identification with the physical body, or at least made an earnest commitment and enthusiastic effort in that direction, we will likely create an environment that encourages continuing release.

Again, from the Gospels, “Call no man father (and no woman mother)” because if a man is our father, then we are a body, and if a woman is our mother, then we are a body, with all its characteristics and its certain life span.

Here, consider this exchange between Nisargadatta and a seeker, who asks, “If somebody with a razor-sharp sword would suddenly sever your head, what difference would it make to you?”; the Teacher replies, “None whatsoever. The body will lose its head, certain lines of communication will be cut. That is all. ... It is the nature of consciousness to survive its vehicles. It is like fire. It burns up the fuel, but not itself.”

I guess he would have us ask ourselves, Am I the fire or am I the fuel?

---

After posting the foregoing, I came across this about death in Mary Baker Eddy's "Science & Health": As man falleth asleep, so shall he awake. As death findeth mortal man, so shall he be after death, until probation and growth shall effect the needed change.

User avatar
anna
Posts: 210
Joined: December 29th, 2004, 9:28 pm
Contact:

Postby anna » May 27th, 2005, 3:33 pm

Yes, exactly.

If you pursue this concept further, then, you begin to understand the importance and reason for all the teachings' emphasis on getting one's act together, and finding out "who you are". ALL, and I do mean ALL, religious discplines at base are about this fundamental imperative. All the disciplines, all the scriptures, etc., they all point to the individual effort required to recognize one's own divinity, ergo, spiritual essence, whether that is defined through submission to an external God, or an internal one. The essence of exoteric Christianity is "salvation", and what is that if not continuation after death? The essence of Vedanta is the same, only it is internalized, and so forth.

So, then, if this concept is true, all discplines and all religions offer eternal life, and they are all true, in so far as the devotee of that discipline accepts, believes and embraces the paradigm. The wonder of it all then is that "who we are", or "how we think" is accurate, true, and appropriate to each and every individual soul on earth and depends solely upon what that individual believes, accepts and embraces. If that isn't an expression of the wonder, majesty, and graciousness of God, or Nature, then I don't know what is! :D

User avatar
windabove
Posts: 34
Joined: January 4th, 2005, 2:46 pm
Contact:

Postby windabove » June 4th, 2005, 4:06 pm

Life after Life is a wonderful classic, and aptly titled. So true that, Life having never been born, will never die, and death is not the opposite of life, for life has no opposite; death is the opposite of birth. Even recognizing that, it is probably a bit more correct to think of death as birth’s compliment rather than its opposite. In any case what appears and what disappears are certainly identical in nature, and AS SUCH do not represent the real.

“Do you remember the time of your birth?
You were crying, those around you laughing.
This life shall pass away.
Your death to you brings joy.
To the people grief.” - anonymous poem in Ottoman Turkish

FYI, in your quote from Science and Health, in the second sentence Mrs. Eddy is obviously NOT referencing absolute Truth. There she is addressing the dream state, the relative, or mortal thought at the level of its own insistence. Notice how the subject shifts from ‘man’ to more specifically ‘mortal man’. Notice how man ‘falleth asleep’, whereas mortal man dies. Point being, it is very important to distinguish statements relative from statements absolute, and the degree thereof, that a spiritual teacher may be referring to. Otherwise we wind up building a theology premised upon illusion, temporality, the sifting sands of human experience, as if it were fact.
Yes from the standpoint of a human being, a mortal, we will almost instantly create another reality that reflects our continuing identity with the physical.

Who am I? Ah THAT truly does determines everything!
.+*+*+*+*.LOVE.love.lOve.LoVe.*+*+*+**+.. ^^

User avatar
anna
Posts: 210
Joined: December 29th, 2004, 9:28 pm
Contact:

Postby anna » June 6th, 2005, 12:54 pm

windabove wrote:“Do you remember the time of your birth?
You were crying, those around you laughing.
This life shall pass away.
Your death to you brings joy.
To the people grief.” - anonymous poem in Ottoman Turkish



I love the poem - thanks for finding it and sharing it. I have always wondered at that very fact, and thought isn't it curious that no one, or at least few, seem to address this odd behavior at these two crucial events in human's lives. Hidden within all human experience are hints at the truth, we have but to look carefully and listen. 8)


Return to “Green Fields”