Día de Muertos
It’s the Day of the Dead here in Mexico, and a beautiful time to celebrate Death. Free from the more macabre associations of Halloween, Día de Muertos is a joyful time to gather with family and honor ancestors. It originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful as the dead are still considered members of the community. The altars that are built for this celebration are not ceremonial, but a way to welcome the spirits who return during this time. When making an altar for this special occasion, be sure to include water, food, and gifts for the spirits arriving after a long journey.
A Hymn to Death
Those who die before death won’t die when dying.
In Self-Enquiry, when asking “Who am I,” leaving the body and the thoughts aside, what about Death? Is it just another object to be abandoned? Is Death really something to be discarded as ephemeral or illusory?
Before you have an intimate meeting and develop a long private relationship with Death, don’t hurry to find answers and draw conclusions.
Learn from its paradoxes. If you really fall in Love with Death, is death possible for you anymore?
Death can unlock the secret of real life. It is the answer to the “Who am I?” question.
First, an intimacy with Death is needed. Fears melt away in a true Love relationship. Death is always available, honest, and faithful. It will never disappoint you. It is always there with you, if you learn how to find it. Death is beautiful and enough in itself. But to taste such a Love, release all expectations.
Another paradox: there is often a fear of Death in the very belief in immortality. It can be felt in many people. Even if such anguish is deeply hidden inside you, Death will surely feel it and ask for more transparency. It can do this in so many ways. Forms, concepts, beliefs, and doubts are utterly irrelevant in front of Death. You cannot trick such a Lover.
You may hold a secret hope that your moral values, understanding of the Consciousness of Oneness, and yoga practice will serve as the means to carry you into eternity, that save you in this trial in front of the abyss. But it is quite the opposite: this very intimate and genuine touch of Death, and not any belief or practice, is the real, most direct path to the Infinite.
It is only Death who leads you to immortality.
Adore and welcome your Lover with reverential silence.
It is said that Death pays all your debts. It is the “undoing” of individual existence, the corrosive agent that devours anything ephemeral, leaving only the gold of the pure “I am.”
In Death, conscious and unconscious realms melt together in a higher reality, the still, sacred presence of the Heart.
The supreme meaning of life cannot be seen unless you look into the eyes of Death as in a mirror.
Death is the most important ingredient in life. Without it, life is not real, it’s just a shallow play of puppets that have forgotten the puppeteer.
Without the taste of Death, the present moment is tasteless.
Death feels more obvious in agony, in strain and suffering, but its secret calling is equally present in joy and love. That’s why Eros (Love) and Thanatos (Death) are one. They are lovers and deathers. Feel this within yourself…
To say that at any level life and death coexist as countervailing forces is to still not see their unity.
To feel an equal ardor for Love and Death, in nothingness and eternity, is the secret of life. Let yourself dive in so much passion for life that it carries you beyond its common edges, where Death comes and comes in glimpses, simply because of so much fervor for life. In such moments, every experience becomes a spontaneous immersion in this intimate, secret nothingness.
You die because of everything, because of so much love for life.
So, don’t wait until the end of life to hear this magnificent and meaningless whisper of Death. At that troubling moment, you may be too confused and passive to take the ride on the back of this Tigress.
Surrender is liberation through nothingness. It is not a liberation of the individual, but the revelation that you are commensurable with Death. No limits, no you, just Death.
There are many dead individuals, but there is no individual death.
Take up Your Cross of Death and Fly
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) He just advised surrender. By carrying the cross he didn’t mean a life of pain and suffering, but the remembrance of Death.
In those times, the cross was mainly a symbol of Death. Carry your death as you would carry a cross. Not a heavy cross, but one that looks like wings on your back.
Death, like a cross, makes you expand in vertical and horizontal dimensions, throughout space. But most of all, it gives you a center. Death, like the cross, gives you the Center, the sense of eternity.
Thus, the feeling of your body’s ephemerality becomes more acute as the consciousness your heart’s immortality becomes more vivid.
On dark nights, at the end of charming days meditating in silent retreats at Hridaya Mexico, I often join people lying down on the school’s terrace. We open our arms in a cross and look at the sky with no thoughts. In Open Attention…
Join us, but don’t just look at stars. That dark, omnipresent space that embraces the Milky Way, that silence inside the roar of the ocean, that longing in your heart, is Death’s call…