We are two-fold beings, at once human and divine, finite and infinite, dualistic and non-dualistic. On one hand we have a body and a personality that change, that age, that experience happiness and pain, that eventually die. We also are pure consciousness, living spirit, deathless, the subject that experiences our body and mind as objects. We live in a society preoccupied with the body and the personality, with that which dies. Death becomes the enemy. All contemplative spiritual traditions clearly tell us our essential nature does not die, that living spirit is eternal.
In life and especially while approaching death, it is vital to fully embrace both the human and the divine aspects of our being. We have a body and a personality as do all those around us. What is asked of us is to have deep compassion for the suffering that we see within ourselves and in the world, suffering that is caused when we lose sight of our divine nature and identify only with that which dies.
We are invited to be with suffering even as we remember the vast, boundless spaciousness that is our true nature, aware that each moment of happiness or sadness, of suffering or non-suffering is arising in the context of being whole and pure and undefiled, of being pure consciousness. As we do so, how we relate to the suffering of the world is transformed and compassion begins to arise naturally. To the extent that you or I can feel compassion for the suffering of the world in the way a mother feels compassion for her newborn child and wants the child not to suffer, to that extent compassion begins to deepen and eventually change into not a compassion that I am feeling for myself or for you, but is revealed as Great Compassion, the spontaneous arising of our true nature, unobscured.
Death is a very real blessing for each one of us. Knowing we will die one day has the potential of inspiring us to turn toward that which does not die. Beyond that, the deeper blessing is that as we are dying, that which we hold onto as separate, our identification with body and personality, is inexorably being ripped away from us. What remains is living spirit, the deathless. To the extent you or I have been able to bear the brilliant light of love, of joy, the totally open heart while still alive, then dying will simply be another moment of resting in this light. To the extent we turn away from love and pull back with fear in our separateness, then dying will come too soon and be too terrible to face.
Now is the moment to awaken. Now is the moment to die into love of this moment and this moment, learning to bear the unbearable nature of human existence and to bear it with joy. The invitation is to feel the perfection of it all and the pain of it all at the same time, to have such deep love and compassion for this human condition in all its many forms that we realize we are compassion.
My brother David, who died as we were putting this newsletter together, was a true example of this Great Compassion.
– Dale Borglum