Reflections on Conscious Living and Conscious Dying: Part 4
I ended my last column with a quote from Jonathan Livingston Seagull about becoming a finder. What exactly does this mean? It is worth our exploration, as our personal awakening is the most important accomplishment possible as humans. Eckhart Tolle was very clear about this, and it is also the whole point of the teaching of A Course in Miracles. Our destiny and our fulfillment are dependent upon one thing: our willingness to listen to guidance and to follow it. There is a great line from A Course in Miracles about how being “called” is not a special event. Everyone is called; it is simply rare for most to listen.
Our awakening comes as the result of our ability to master the art of surrender. What this looks like is the removal of our egoic defenses against awakening. Early in the process we tend to deny our own radiant truth and project this divinity onto others. Whether we adore a particular master or study the example of many, our first stage of awakening is paying attention to the reality of awakening as displayed in the lives of saints and seers.
My personal heroes/mentors include Albert Schweitzer, Albert Einstein and Carl Jung. All there of these men enjoyed a lovely old age, because they had fulfilled their destiny or soul purpose. They had listened to their guidance, often at the expense of relationships with others, those who represented conventions and conditioning of their time. Being true to one’s soul is not a popularity contest. A few of men who inspired me in later stages of my journey included Wilhelm Reich, Stephen Levine, and Chogyam Trungpa, each quite radical in his own way.
Listening to guidance is the first step. Staying true to the course of your own soul’s expression is the second and more difficult stage of development. There are countless opportunities to turn back, to choose the comforts of conformity and convention. I wrote before about the necessity of true suffering. The most common type of suffering comes when we say goodbye to old forms, whether this be family or friends or limiting belief systems. This is what I refer to as the Conscious Dying process. What comes of this process, often taking many repetitions of similar lessons, is an inner peace that is beyond the touch of this world.
A friend and member of my spiritual circle in Minnesota fell out of a tree a few days ago and died. Bruce had shown himself to be an eager student and seeker. But he struggled with certain conditions in his life, represented by family and career. He was keenly looking for his freedom. Like most, his freedom required the death of the body.
My younger sister and best friend also chose this path, exiting the struggle at the age of 35 via suicide. A few weeks ago I had the unusual experience of falling about 20 feet off a high ladder while cutting a tree. This fall, onto a pile of rocks along the river, might well have killed me or crippled me. There was a moment or two as I lay on the ground, my body in extreme pain, others scurrying around me to help, when I reflected on the possibility that my “bonus time” was being cut short. I had welcomed into my life an unexpected bonus, a caring wife and baby girl, a clear example to me of the miracle of transformation. So as I lay on the ground in extreme physical pain I wondered why I would have squandered this treasure. A few hours later when the doctors at the hospital gave me the remarkable news that nothing in my body was broken the “hush of heaven” returned. I knew that nothing I might do would take away the grace that clearly was governing my life.
There is a promise of protection when we give our soul in service to “the unmanifested.” We become so valuable to the universe that the universe take extraordinary measures to defend its investment. Our lives become clear evidence of the majesty and grace of the divine. Our one responsibility is to shine this light for all to see, giving without condition, each day an opportunity for our highest expression.
Louis Bourgeois lives in Cuenca with his wife and baby. He teaches courses in Conscious Living and Conscious Dying. He can be contacted at email@example.com