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Painting by Alexandre-Louis Jacob

Each of us carries locked up in our DNA an ancestral memory of a time in which we were not separated from the Creation stories. In one of my early visions, I saw that we all have been a part of many worlds. We move from world to world on a great cosmic journey, but, here on Earth, our journey has become interrupted. We have become caught in some kind of tidal backwash or eddy in which we have the illusion of moving forward when in reality we are standing still. We are in an endless cycle of recurrence when we tend to make the same choices, repeating the same patterns, and make the same errors lifetime after lifetime.
This is much like the movie “Groundhog Day”, in which we have the vague sense of familiarity that we have done all this many times before. We just do not know how to break the cycle. We have fallen asleep in the time-stream of physical existence and do not know how to wake up.
. . .
We come into this world over and over again believing that we are here for the first time and we do not know where we came from, why we are here, or where we are going.
I saw that deep down we know the answers to these questions, but we have to find that place within us that remembers. That place is deeper than the ordinary mind can penetrate. . . .
The promises of all religions pale against the real experience of ecstatic union, which is sublime beyond imagining. Ecstatic union is the true and forgotten path of the whole of humankind.”

- Peter Calhoun, Soul on Fire

I’m at the age where friends and longtime acquaintances are dying (disappearing, as they say in French). A friend twenty years younger than I died just the other day. We’re not allowed to know our expiration date although we all have one. Most of the people I went to school with and knew as a child have already passed.

I keep going, as if nothing is amiss and I have time to complete my projects. Meditation on death is considered morbid in our part of the world. I was surprised as a young man to be introduced to the idea, coming from India I think, that it’s a life enhancing consideration to imagine your extinction. Undeniably, it’s an inescapable fact and anything that helps us live more vibrantly is a good thing.

I can’t say I’ve spent much time with the image of no longer existing. But when I do, I become more determined to make my time on earth count for something. It’s apparent to me now that it has taken me an unconscionably long time to become a reasonably successful version of myself. I was caught up in all the common struggles. It took me a long time to sort out love and work and to find what my life should be about.

But the lessons learned were actually learned, even if they lead directly to those things I still need to learn. Unanswered questions swirl around life and death. We don’t know if we’re here to complete specific tasks and when we’ve done that it’s over for this go-round. We can spend years guessing what we’re here for. I remember my mother asking “why am I still here?” She was ready to go.

The ones that die young pose the question — why so soon? They hardly have a chance to taste life. Do we cycle back? Are we infinite beings, changing bodies and timeframes, races and cultures? Are we on a journey to grow our souls?

Getting attached to our present identity and circumstance, if we can see how that induces fear, may be the lesson. Contemplating the reality of death and letting it be, learning to live in the present and letting go of the desire to control the future is a step toward wise living, perhaps.

We are enveloped in and surrounded by mysteries. Living with these questions seems better to me than accepting the commonplace and facile answers. We are all part of a glorious mystery.

We are actually creating it. It’s not just happening to us.

“You never know how precious something is until you’ve lost it…. The medicine of death is that it makes life precious.”
- Charles Eisenstein

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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