Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a five-part series, the Five Faces of Freedom, recounting the author’s reflections on turning 70. Part 1 focused on Freedom from the Past.
Essentially, an unhealed/unforgiven past necessitates a future. We are likely to recreate situations from our past specifically so that they may be healed and forgiven. Patterns will arise, and we might become enslaved by these patterns. This is why I offer that devastations are so valuable. It is only through some tragedy that we are likely to open ourselves, via our grief, and develop a true relationship with our soul. It is this relationship, with that part of our self which knows eternity, that will become our “raft to the far shore.”
The near-death experience is an incredibly valuable asset in this process of building a relationship with our soul. I have had the great fortune of several close encounters with death. Experientially the magic and mystery of death is our awareness of “no future.” What happens when we come face to face with the reality of “no future?” There is nothing that we can do but surrender into the moment, and with this surrender comes great peace. The practice of “Conscious Dying” gives us a deep measure of peace, living more and more in the present, seeing each day as a gift.
The flip side of “no future” is the opportunity to develop our relationship with eternity. When we die we will each pass through a portal, leaving the space-time world and entering the timeless realm. The experience each of us will have, regardless of any belief system, is filled with brilliant light. This light is literally the membrane between time and the timeless realm, as proven by Einstein and modern physics. The vast body of research on the NDE (near-death experience) by Dr. Kenneth Ring and others, shows a consistent report of this light. The interpretation of the experience may well be the result of the mental and emotional filter of one’s faith, be it Christian or atheist, Buddhist or Hindu. But the essence of our encounter with timelessness is the same.
I have written much in past essays on the topic of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying. The cornerstone of the foundation fo Conscious Living is our relationship with time. Freedom from the Past arises from our awareness of the “singularity” of time, what time truly means. What is the “one thing” that our past represents? Forgiveness depends upon our understanding of this singularity, the one thing or true meaning of time. What was the purpose of the life lessons we each received? Were the experiences meant to hold us hostage or set us free? The unforgiven, or misunderstood, past will hold us hostage. A forgiven past means that we have seen clearly the purpose of our collective life lessons. The purpose of our life lessons translates into the purpose of our life.
There is a magical “reversal” in our mind when we come to understand the meaning of our life lessons and the purpose of our life. This reversal translates roughly into the shift in seeing the world as a place for getting from into a place for giving to. For the child, the adolescent, the young adult, and for the unawakened adult the world appears as relationships, people, places and things, where we seek to fulfill our needs. The psychologist Abraham Maslow described a very clear “hierarchy of needs.” For the child basic survival needs dominate; for the adolescent love and belonging needs become tantamount. For the young adult into perhaps middle age the pressing needs are for achievement and self-esteem. Only later in life, for some, do the needs of the soul become more important than the worldly concerns.
It is easy to see why our relationship with time, past and future, can be filled with emotional upset, whether this upset comes in highs or lows. If we are using our relationships in self-serving ways the world becomes the “enemy.” If we are lucky our disappointments, even disasters, will lead us toward this reversal of thinking. In part 3, Freedom from the World, we will explore more deeply this reversal of the mind, that which opens our life to true freedom.
Louis Bourgeois lives outside of Cuenca with his wife and young daughter. He teaches courses in Conscious Living and Conscious Dying. He can be contacted at email@example.com