The Journey’s End is the Only Cause of Death

And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts the sickle, because the harvest has come”. The Gospel of Mark, Parables 4:26-29

Everything grows; a dream grows towards becoming a reality. A journey grows towards its destination. A project grows towards completion and a search grows towards the finding. Everything alive seeks to reach higher, a plant and a tree grow towards the sun, their source of life. The body grows towards the sun, its source of life. The ego grows towards the soul its source of life. The soul grows towards God, or The Source, its life.

It is that growth which pushes us. It is an aching, the aching of the seed, the aching of the plant, and the aching of every life on earth. We seek growth in everything that we do. We challenge our bodies through sports, and through weights. We challenge our minds through puzzles and through overcoming obstacles, finding a new way. We challenge our souls through the obstacles and sorrows that we place before ourselves in life.

What is the reason for growth? It is to unite with our Source, become one with it. Our dreams grow to unite with reality. Our ideas grow to unite with form. Once the light is reached the journey is over. The process is complete. When that is achieved, the seeker becomes that which was sought. The journey becomes the destination. The being becomes its purpose for being. Everything grows to reach its light because it is that light which gives it life. We exist to seek the light, the light enlightens our way, and the light is the force within us that motivates our journey.

The light is the beginning, and the end, the alpha and the omega. To reach the light is the culmination, the highest point that we can achieve, and yet, at the same time the light is the death. It is the end. It is where we begin, our purpose for the journey and the end of it. To die is not to end it is to finally become. The seed dies to become the tree, the caterpillar dies to become the butterfly, the idea dies to become the creation, the dream dies to become the reality. It is a never ending process of birth, death and resurrection. There is no end. We leave one life when it is done. We are born at the moment that God destines our journey to begin in this life, and we die when God destines that it is over. My birth might be called a fluke, my mother could not go into labor, she had already lost one child for that reason. My father stayed out all night, one of many all nighters that he pulled. This night, she decided that he would not spend the next day resting up in bed as was his habit after an all nighter. This night, she decided that he would suffer. So, the next day when he came home she told him that she was in labor and he had to take her to the hospital. To her surprise, the umbilical cord was strangling me and she had to have an immediate emergency C-Section.

The body of the baby dies to become the toddler. The body of the toddler dies to become the child. The body of the child dies to become the teenager. Look at pictures, each resembles the other but each does not share the same body of the other. We die most deaths without know it anymore than we notice the birth of the toddler, or of the adolescent or adult. At the end of each life, there is simply no more script to read, no more lines for our character, it doesn’t matter how old or how young we leave this incarnation, some souls choose to accomplish a great deal in a short time. If a baby survives for only a minute, that baby has still changed the life of the mother who carried it into the world and the family that waited for its arrival. A life touches others for as long as it is written into the play. God allows the soul to choose the length of its stay. And the purpose that it is here to accomplish. We arrive on time and leave on time. The way that we leave is the way our plot ends. It completes the story, the story we chose, and the one chosen for us. They are one in the same. No one causes the death of another as no one causes the birth of another.

The Bhagavad-Gita is a spiritual epic about life, death and our relationship with God in between. As is so very appropriate today, it is the story of Arjuna, a warrior at a time when each person had a role to fill, teacher, ruler, warrior, etc. It is a story of a great battle lasting between warring families and the kingdoms that are their allies. Because of his birth, Arjuna is forced to fight in this battle. Before the battle begins, he asks his charioteer, Krishna, to drive him into the center of the battlefield so that he can see clearly who he will be fighting. He sees that he will be fighting those closest to him, his family members, teachers, mentors, brothers and father-in-law. He is overcome with grief at the prospect of fighting those he loves dearly.

“Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.” “I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I see only causes of misfortune, O Krishna, killer of the Keshi demon.” “I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Krishna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness.” “O Govinda, of what avail to us are a kingdom, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed on this battlefield? O Madhusudana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, why should I wish to kill them, even though they might otherwise kill me? O maintainer of all living entities, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth. What pleasure will we derive from killing the sons of Dhritarashtra?”… “Better for me if the sons of Dhritarashtra, weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield.” “It would be better to live in this world by begging than to live at the cost of the lives of great souls who are my teachers. Even though desiring worldly gain, they are superiors. If they are killed, everything we enjoy will be tainted with blood.”

I didn’t know, when I read this years ago, why it felt so important to me. It was not only the message, but the context of war and the inner conflict that any good hearted man or woman must struggle with that stayed with me. Arjuna is a warrior, battle is not his conflict but with whom he must fight. In his argument laments the fact that although the perpetrators of the war are only fighting out of greed, why must he kill, knowing that it is wrong. He cannot understand how in killing those he loves, knowing it is wrong, he is not equally as sinful as those who do not care who they who kill.

The soldiers know that we support them, but not the war that they are fighting. We have learned from Vietnam not to fault the soldiers, but to love them, pray for them and support them. Yet, it does not matter to the soldiers that we support them, because we are supporting them without really knowing what they are doing that we are supporting. If you tell me that you believe in me, but I cannot tell you what I am really doing, or that I cannot believe in myself for doing it – I gain no comfort from your support. Most Americans do not really know, or really want to know what our soldiers must do and must see. There is no way to erase images that are emotionally or traumatically imprinted on the mind. But what can be done to in some way help those who are suffering loss, or are struggling with the guilt and or shame of feeling responsible for causing the death of another is to help them open up to the possibility of accepting that what we see as death, is a transition, and not one that man, regardless of his actions is capable of causing. The moment of our birth and the moment of our departure from the body are two moments more fated than any other in our lives. As Krishna told Arjuna:

“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.”… “That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.”…“ One man believes he is the slayer, another believes he is the slain. Both are ignorant; there is neither slayer nor slain. You were never born; you will never die. You have never changed; you can never change. Unborn, eternal, immutable, immemorial, you do not die when the body dies. Realizing that which is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and unchanging, how can you slay or cause another to be slain?
As a man abandons his worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within. The Self cannot be pierced with weapons or burned with fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundation of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change. Knowing this, you should not grieve.”
( Bhagavad Gita 2.19-25)

When all of the pieces come together we become complete. To become is to die as we were. We die as that which seeks fullness, and are reborn as that which is full. We die as the question and are reborn as the answer. We change into the form that we seek.

Death is not the end of life; it is the end of a form, the end of an experience. It is the completion of a quest, our search for the Pearl. We each go out into the world for a reason, and when we have found what we were looking for or done what we went out to do, we all return home. We wear the garments appropriate for our journey. When we return home, we remove them. This is as it should be. It is when we return home that we are truly together.

Our lives that were once so connected with each other will die. We each go on to build new lives in new places and regardless of how much we loved each other while we were together; the time comes to move on. This is death. It is not the ending of a life; it is the ending of an experience. The act of dying is simply the ceremony, the ritual attached to that moving on, to that removal of our outerwear. Death comes much more peacefully than birth. There are many old souls who would rather die a thousand deaths than be born once more.

I was sitting with a friend of mine at the New Jersey shore, when she told me about a man who had been standing in the bay fishing when a helicopter fell out of the sky and landed on him. Needless to say, he died. She then remarked that there was no doubt that it was his time. We all have our time it is that moment when we have completed all that we came here to do. It does not matter where we are when our time comes because when it comes we will leave. The means of our departure is part of our journey but not the cause of its end.

We establish, before we incarnate all of the things that we are going to accomplish while here. In some lives there are many major events that we need in order to complete our mission, and our lessons. For others the lessons are very few, sometimes everything we experience in our lives is only to support one lesson. Sometimes we just come in to help another soul that we are close to, as in the case of many children who die very young. It is not for themselves that they come; it is to help their families with a lesson and sometimes to effect the whole society as in the case of Ryan White. The length of years that we spend here is not the issue. There are times when in order to connect with all of the souls that we have agreed to connect with we must spend many years on the earth. There are times when it is but a few hours.

Often the time of death is chosen in order to fit in with lessons of those close to us. Perhaps the experience of our dying is a group experience. Or perhaps it is a part of a lesson for those closest to us. So the time when this can best be accomplished will be our time, that time when we graduate to the next level or need to move to another life for our next set of lessons.
When it is our time there is no reason for our soul to stay incarnate. This has nothing to do with our ego attachment to being here, the ego does not rule the lesson, and it is only one of the tests. Often we will place other points in our lives where we may or may not die and although these points do not mark the end of our lesson here in this life, they still mark points where we may end our time here if our souls are ready. We are given the choice. These are times when things like prayer are very important. These are times when we are able to build our faith. We are brought to the edge and allowed a miracle to bring us back. We are able to make a permanent connection with our spirit and see it manifest in our lives. This is a gift to us.

Sometimes we need to come close to death in order to prepare for the next step in our lives. In other cases we need to be brought to the point of choice so that we can make a conscious decision to be here. Once in a while a soul just cannot appreciate being here because he or she may feel that it was not their choice. If that person has a near death experience and makes a choice to return, life then has a different value. When we die it is always our time, it is a time that has been predetermined and agreed upon by all of our soul family. It is a time appointed by God. It is the right time. It happens in the right way, and we are grateful for what it brings to our souls through the experience. It is a completion, a graduation. When someone we love departs from the physical body, we can always feel their presence if we open ourselves to it.

It is important to understand that when someone leaves his or her body, the connection that they had with the souls left behind does not end. The work that we came together to do must be completed. We have to accept that everything in the physical world has a beginning and an end. Yet the end is in effect a merging with a new beginning. Any guilt or regret should be redirected to positive changes for future situations. Nothing is left unfinished, we may not like the conclusion, but death is the period at the end of our sentence on earth, but by no means the end of our story.

When we leave this earth plane and look back on our time here, it is neither the pain nor the joy that we remember, it is the fullness, the richness of all of both pain and joy combined. It is the roller coaster ride that is life that we long to return to. Birth, death, and the time in-between are all points on the circle, which is life. There is really no beginning and no end, those are just illusions. There is just life, continuous, changing and yet always remaining the same, Life.

Happiness Is Knowing When We Have Enough


More or less is never enough, but enough is always enough.
No one who has enough is ever unhappy. Most of us actually have enough to be content right in front of us, but as we are programmed, we are not looking there to find it. We are looking at what someone else has or at what someone else tells us that we should have.

Enough means that you can finally stop seeking more. One day it dawned on me that if there were any reason that I should consider myself lucky, it would be that I always have enough. I have had very little money and I have had a lot of money, but at each stage the things that I wanted were within my reach. It was not that I did not know that there existed more than I had; I just never wanted more than I could have. My life was the most content; it had the most room for happiness, when I did not have those things that I could live without.

I have a friend who I always felt was very beautiful. She was short in height had beautiful dark hair and a beautiful olive complexion. She never felt that she was attractive because she was not a tall blond. It came to me that she could never be happy with herself, with that kind of image. How could she ever be happy with herself when the best that she could be could never be what she considered to be the best? So many people are not happy because what they believe will make them happy is always somewhere over there, yet to be obtained. When we do finally get that thing that is over there, suddenly there is another thing that is better than ours somewhere else. We are always wanting, always seeking what we do not have and always overlooking what we do have.

Happiness is always in having more, or in something else. We don’t have any idea how to have enough. Most of what we have today is ours because at some point we wanted it. What happened to the wanting when it became ours? It is a question of whether it was the thing that we wanted or just a feeling that we expected to have by owning it. We are conditioned only to be happy with more. The only way to be good enough is to be better. Being better gives us wiggle room for failure.

The funny thing is that we are that someone else with that something else to someone else. As we are looking at our neighbor, that same neighbor is looking at us. If this were to be our last moment, it would contain all that we will ever have. When we can want what we have we will have enough. What we have at any given moment must be enough because it is all that there is and because it is ours.

We have what the Universe intended for us to have in each moment of our lives. We are complete. If you can look back at your life and recapture the fullness of each experience, you will see that you have enough.

When we can look within to find our personal value and not attach it to things outside of ourselves we will then begin with enough. Whatever we have or whatever we lose, we still have the ability, and we still have the power within to build with what is left, even if it is nothing, it is a beginning. We are endowed with enough, anything that we add to that is extra. We are already complete.

The ultimate lesson is that we have always had enough, not from the birth of our physical form, but from the birth of our soul. For the soul this is an important lesson. Our journey here as souls is fourfold. First we must obtain, next we must see the emptiness in what we have obtained. Next we must let go and finally we must see and be in awe of, what is left after we have let go of all of the things that we have obtained.

The Only Real World Is The One Within

Man should discover his own reality and not thwart himself. For he has his self as his only friend, or as his only enemy. A person has the self as friend when he has conquered himself, But if he rejects his own reality, the self will war against him. Hinduism.
Bhagavad-Gita 6.5-6
There is a children’s tale about a woman who felt that her house was too small, so she went to a wise man to advise her, and he told her to bring in one animal to live in her house. Each time she felt the house growing smaller, she was advised to bring one more animal into the house, when the house was so crowded that she could no longer move, she was told to take them all out of the house. When she did this, her house seemed large and roomy, and she was grateful for the space that she had.

The house did not change. Her perception of the house changed and the same house that she once hated became a house for which she felt gratitude. That gratitude opened her to feeling joy. Imagine for a moment, that it rains for two weeks straight how beautiful and joyous you feel on the day you look out and see the blue sky and a brightly shining sun. We spend our lives wanting what other people have, the job that provides for the house on the hill, the job that pays for the Porsche or the Mercedes, instead of the job that affords you the junkyard reject on wheels that you are driving. Imagine that you walk in today and you get your pink slip. Now you can’t even pay for the junkyard wreck let alone your rent, food, children’s clothes etc. Go one step further and imagine that the phone rings and they offer you the same job back. Now you don’t care about the house on the hill, you don’t care about the Porsche or the Mercedes, instead you thank God for that phone call, and that dirty office, or that lousy cash register which shines like a brand new penny!!
For a time, generally in proportion to the time that you spent without the job, you are grateful for every difficult day that you go to work and you don’t even give a second thought to what it doesn’t give you because you are so grateful to have what it does. I had some jewelry that had meant so much to me when I received it, but, as time went on, it became stale and valueless to me. Then one day the jewelry was gone, I panicked, and when, after two days of searching, I found it, it was like the first day I had ever laid eyes on it. I felt such overwhelming joy and gratitude that it was actually mine. All of these things, the sun, the sky, the job, the car, those things that shone for one moment in your life and now were dull, overlooked and underappreciated, like the basic fact that you woke up and saw one more day, are always the same as they are in empty situations, like cups to be filled by you with whatever you choose—gratitude and joy or resentment and sorrow. This is life, a chain of consecutive experiences void of emotion until we fill them with whichever emotions we choose.

Man struggles to find life outside himself, unaware that the life he is seeking is within him.’
Kahlil Gibran

Whether we believe that the things occurring in our lives are pre-determined or the result of our free will really doesn’t matter in the end. The indisputable choice that we have is what emotions we fill our experiences with. This is where our free will is at it’s purest. Things don’t fill us with joy or sadness—we fill them. Life doesn’t emote—we do. We enliven our world, we color it, first as individuals, then as generations, as societies, as a species, and finally as souls. Even so, the world in which we are born has been colored, to some extent, by those who have preceded us, our personal world, our subjective world—the world that is there for our particular journey is, for all intents and purposes, colorless and formless until we give it color and form; until we label each person and each experience good, bad, painful or joyful.

‘We choose our joys and our sorrows long before we experience them.’ Kahlil Gibran

My daughter, Lia, told me that she could deal with anything so long as she could label it. This is because “out there” is meaningless until we bring it inside, label, and classify it. We must give it meaning and color within our own description of the world. When we are young, we learn language—we learn the descriptions of the impressions that we receive from the outside world. We are told that a certain object is a table, that a table is a flat surface supported by four legs. In our brain which is our personal computer, we are not able to make infer that all flat surfaces with four legs are tables. Our brains take the labels that we are given for the object as a whole, then they dissect the object into its parts. By doing this, our brains can automatically make connections to things that are the same as or different than.

Labeling and classifying becomes more difficult when we deal with intangibles, such as experiences. When we are very young we dissect, label, and classify experiences in the same way as we do everything else—we record what we are told and what we see, i.e., the reactions of our parents, who are our first teachers, to the appropriate stimuli. When we are faced with situations that our brains tell us match one of the experiences to which we have a recorded parental response, we mimic that response. Whenever we feel a contradictory response coming from within ourselves, we push it away as inappropriate relying on the blueprint of the world that we received as children.

As children, we live in the world of our families. We spend the major portion of our time with them and so, we live in their world. Our survival instincts tell us that we must know and understand the world in which we live. More than a thing or an experience, life is a language. As children we learn the words, the idioms, the nuances of the languages of those around me. That language tells us where to go and what to do so we may find our way around and live as best we can within their world. As we approach our teens, we find ourselves spending the better part of our time in a new world, the world of our peers. And because of the large amount of time that we spend, because of the dictates of life at this point, within our peer group, we must create a new language, one which is distinct enough to distinguish one world from the other. This is generally opposite to the language that we grew up with. This new language is contrary to the language of our family environment not because it is a period of rebellion, but because of evolutionary design. We refuse to acknowledge our initial language, the one given to us by our parents, simply because we are unable to maintain two contradictory beliefs. The language of our parents is a combination of the language of the greater whole, the society within which we live, the language of their generation, and their own personal language.

When we move into our peer group, we learn the language of our own generations, and the idioms of our own peer society. It is only after we have an understanding of all of these languages that we are able to confidently begin to develop, and respond to a reality based upon own personally formed languages. During these teen years we slowly develop a language that comes from our personal responses as they are weighed against the database that we now have of prior learned responses from our families, our peer groups, our teachers and advisors, and the greater society around us. As we develop own languages, we gravitate towards others whose languages are the same as, or similar to ours. We develop a religious language, a philosophical language, a moral language—a language that as clearly as possible distinguishes good from bad, dangerous from safe, and happy from sad. It is vital to understand that it is in our personal language, and not in the object or experience being defined by that language, that our feelings and emotional responses are defined.

When I was young, in my personal language, marriage meant happily ever after. My definition of marriage included love, security, and escape from sadness. From watching my struggle as a single mother to support my daughter Tana and myself, Tana was led to define the word children, in her language, as sacrifice and burden. I only told her how much I loved her, but still, from observing my struggle, she developed her own personal language to describe, and thus create, her reality of motherhood.

The world out there is not alive until we animate it with our personal definitions, our personal language. Nothing out there can make us feel one way or another. The feelings that we get from anyone, anything, or any experience don’t lie within the person, thing, or experience but they lie within ourselves, within our languages and the descriptions that our languages give to them. Often, we will say, or hear someone else say, “I just don’t know how to react to that”. This is because it is a situation to which the person has not yet defined and thus, has not yet attributed an emotion. Or, someone will exclaim, “Oh, that’s what that was!” and immediately they will replay the scene in their minds so that they can label, define and feel the appropriate reaction. Life is a coloring book with only the lines drawn in and we can choose whatever colors we want to fill in the pages. Or, life can be viewed as a book filled with Rorschach images, and it is up to us to write the story for each page.

It is possible for life to be fated, and at the same time, it can be true that we create our own reality. These terms are not contradictory. In life, fate means that we don’t chose the stage, the scenery or the props with which we have to work. We have to utilize what is there. We don’t choose our entrances or our exits. But within those limits, we live, and how we live our lives is determined by the language we use to define reality. There is no such thing as objective reality. And our subjective reality can either be determined by consensus or by personal design. To create our own reality we need to siphon off reach inside, find our own language, our own meaning, and use it. What has been a life well lived, or life wasted lies in the definition and not the life. We must stop seeking the definitions of others when it comes to living our own lives. God has planted within our souls the keys to the kingdom. Those keys are the symbols of the language of our individual souls. Out there may or may not be real. It may or may not be predetermined. Reality, however, is personal, and our definition of it determines the quality of our lives. We can choose to accept the consensus defined reality, or define it for ourselves. If we define it for ourselves, we will never outgrow it, because it will grow with us. We will suffer if we expect to do what others define as the right thing at all times. If our reality is defined by others, simply keeping up with their language of right and wrong will be stressful enough in itself. There is a difference between being right and being true. More times than not, right is defined by consensus, but true, is the cornerstone of integrity and it is defined by self alone. We can be certain to be true at all times, if we live by a reality that is defined by our truth.

My grandmother’s language was designed around two words, usefulness and independence. Indulgence and dependence were at the core of my mother’s language. Within the same week, both my mother and my grandmother became wheelchair bound. My grandmother was destroyed by it. In her language, my grandmother’s wheelchair caused her to be dependent and useless. Her disability placed her into an environment where her language rendered her unable to communicate with herself. Because the foundation of her language defined everything in terms of black or white, she couldn’t label and therefore couldn’t understand this new situation. Before she could begin to function, to heal, she had to learn an entirely new language—an entirely new language for describing – coloring – her life. Once she did this, once she allowed for the expansion of her own language to allow for her physical limitation, rather than exclude it, she found that she could be almost as useful and independent as she had once been. For my mother, the loss of her ability to walk fit perfectly into the language of her reality. It required no adjustments or redefinitions.

Life, out there, is neither good nor bad. It is incapable of doing anything to us. It doesn’t have the power to make us feel happy or sad, valuable, useless, lovable, unlovable, beautiful, ugly, smart, stupid, fat, or thin. We can expect nothing of life and life expects nothing of us. Our lives are determined by the quality of our living. That quality is derived from our personal language, the labels, the meanings with which we color the props and the backdrops of our living. Out there has no effect on us, it’s in here.

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