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Some thoughts on Death and Thanksgiving

This popped into my head today.

As recounted in "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" during one of my "past life regressions" I experienced, remembered, imagined a lifetime as a Tibetan monk. There were some details that I found contrary to what someone "wanting" or "wishing" that they were a monk in a past life..

Like the fact that I hated the teacher because I felt like he didn't know what he was talking about. (I had a vivid dream of being in this class at another time in my life, so when it popped into my head with the help of Scott De Tamble, it didn't seem foreign to me.)  But other details; my monastery was a "day ride by donkey cart" from Lhasa.

I remembered being punched by my father in that lifetime, who had a hard life.  He scarred my face, but I didn't hate him for it. I felt bad for him because our mother died young. I saw my younger brother follow me into the monk hood - which was a proud day and a terrible day for my father in that life... as he lost both boys to the monk hood. (Historically accurate, usually every family in Tibet would donate one child to the monastery, which protected them in times of famine)

HHDL and Richard Davidson of the U of Wisc/Madison
I remembered taking the long tests for geshe - teaching certificate.  It involved reciting, debating, dancing - mind you, I've attended a geshe graduation ceremony in Dharamsala, and was amazed at seeing it again, albeit from a first person point of view.  So I was aware that I might have been just recounting something I'd seen in my current life.

My homies in Kashmir

Until I experienced the last days of this monk's life.  I was an old man. And I was coughing, like a death rattle, in the cold, damp monastery.  I remembered the feeling of graduating to my own cell from the group cell, and sleeping in my own room - but trying to not be attached to it... and later, I was experiencing what that sound is like when your coughing echoes in a building.  But I was reflecting on what it means to be an old man.  

I mused "No one gets my jokes any more, because everyone who understood my references is already dead." So when I make a joke to my attendant, he smiles, but I realize he doesn't "get it" or know what I'm talking about.  

His polite laugh means "oh, the old man made a joke, isn't that cute."  There was a particular loneliness to old age, something I've never experienced in this life, nor could I.  But here I was - feeling like an old person, and knowing it was my last days on earth, and having that feeling that I'm leaving everything behind.  
No one got my jokes back then either.

Not knowing what the future will hold - I had the deep insight of years of training to feel like I understood it.  And then experiencing my death, rising from the body and moving through the monastery to let my attendant know that I've gone. I patted him on the head while he was asleep and then blew out a candle to let him know I had died.

What I'm saying is that consciously I wasn't making these things up - because I've never experienced, seen or heard anyone describe death in that manner.  And I understood something profound - the loneliness of old age.  We think we get it - but we won't unless we're lucky enough to get that far along.

Which takes us to all the folks dying and disappearing from our planet.  Prince. Robin Williams. Leon Russell. Mose Allison.  All people that I came into the orbit of, or in contact with - and they're all departing.  So what is left behind?
Not a monk. More monkey than monk.

Well of course, everyone they've ever touched or moved. That feeling, that experience still exists.  It's not as tangible as holding a hand, but it does exist. Then there's every time you've ever heard them play or were moved by their work. That's a personal loss - but it's also a memory.

We tend to say "We lost so and so today."  Or "so and so has been lost to the world."  Well, I'm here to correct that. They're not lost.  No one gets lost.  They just move on to another reality.  It's here where we miss them and feel their absence - but from their perspective they're on to a new journey or adventure. Not lost. Just not here.

We tend to say "Rest in Peace."  As if their body was where they currently reside.  It's more accurate to say "I hope you had a good life and were happy with it" but for all intents and purposes, they aren't residing with the body they once inhabited. They may stick around to keep an eye on loved ones - but there's no point saying "rest" or that they should be "at peace."  
Not me, but looks like me.

Once they check off stage, leave their body, you can bet they're going to be startled by the alteration of their reality.  And if they've led peaceful happy lives, it's not going to be a big deal.  If they've led tumultuous chaotic lives - sure they're going to be pretty chagrined to see this new reality.  But "Rest in Peace" isn't quite accurate - perhaps more pointed would be "I loved you, and thank you for all that love that you shared with me, whether it's creatively or otherwise. But thank you."
Michael Newton RIP

While dining with Jennifer Shaffer recently, Michael Newton popped in and said that he was helping people on the other side with how to contact their loved ones back here. That's not a construct I've ever thought about - and was startled to hear it.  But of course, if you're going to help people here talk to people on the flipside, why wouldn't the opposite of that also be a worthy endeavor?  How can people talk to us over here when we're stressed, freaked out, our energy is all over the place, we can't calm ourselves down for a moment to "hear" or "sense" or experience whatever our loved ones are trying to impart to us.

I asked Newton if pretending that they were still alive might help.  He said he thought that was a good idea.  So - when you're having Thanksgiving dinner next week, take out a photo of your loved ones no longer here - maybe put out a plate for them, put their photo on the plate, or give them a chair. Toast them. Talk about them. Tell their stories.

And this is the most profound thing I can offer.  I've been told recently that people on the flipside have been appreciative of the kind of work I'm doing. I found that fascinating, and couldn't wrap my mind around why that would be.  Why would they care whether or not we communicate with them? That's our problem over here, stressing about their departure.  Why would it be a big deal?

Jennifer and Scott De Tamble

Because when you bring someone's words to life, when you bring their spirit to life - when you bring their stories to life, when you capture who they were in a photo, or a sentence, or a painting or a song or a poem - you are making them alive again. You are bringing their stories back to the planet.  

We may have relatives who died 200 years ago - and we can't focus on them because we never saw them. But we may have their doily, or watch, or plate, or painting - we have some form of them with us, we certainly carry their DNA - why not just treat them as if they're with us at all times? 
The whole kit and caboodle.
And I don't mean the whole kit and kaboodle. Just a few. Or just one.  Bring out their picture. Pour them a glass of wine.  "How goes it grandma? How are you doing? We're just thinking about you over here and wanted to say thanks for all those laughs.  We're sorry we made fun of your gifts at Christmas, but we had a good laugh, and we still love you and think of you."

How hard can that be?  You don't have to do it in front of anyone else. You can do it now, alone, while reading this.  In your mind, bring out a photo of your loved one.  Bring them to life.  Make them laugh. Hear their laughter.  Feel their hand on yours. Feel your heart melting when you looked them in the eye for the first time. Allow that to happen. It won't hurt anyone. And no one will be the wiser.

Except you. 

My two cents.

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