What is personal death?
Asking this question and pausing to look inward – isn’t personal death a concept? Isn’t there a thought-and-picture series going on in the brain? These scenes of personal ending take place solely in the imagination, and yet they trigger great mental and physical distress – thinking of one’s cherished attachments an their sudden, irreversible termination.
Similarly, if there is “pain when I let some of the beauty of life in” – isn’t this pain the result of thinking, “I won’t be here any longer to enjoy this beauty”? Or, “No one will be around and no beauty left to be enjoyed if there is total nuclear devastation.”
Apart from the horrendous tragedy of human warfare – why is there this fear of “me” not continuing? Is it because I don’t realize that all my fear and trembling is for an image? Because I really believe that this image is myself?
In the midst of this vast, unfathomable, ever-changing, dying, and renewing flow of life, the human brain is ceaselessly engaged in trying to fix for itself a state of permanency and certainty. Having the capacity to think and form pictures of ourselves, to remember them and become deeply attached to them, we take this world of pictures and ideas for real. We thoroughly believe in the reality of the picture story of our personal life. We are totally identified with it and want it to go on forever. The idea of “forever” is itself an invention of the human brain. Forever is a dream.
Questioning beyond all thoughts, images, memories, and beliefs, questioning profoundly into the utter darkness of not-knowing, the realization may suddenly dawn that one is nothing at all – nothing – that all one has been holding on to are pictures and dreams. Being nothing is being everything. It is wholeness. Compassion. It is the ending of separation, fear, and sorrow.
Is there pain when no one is there to hold on?
There is beauty where there is no “me”.
― Toni Packer, The Work of This Moment