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October 2006 • Vol 3, No 10
Awakening • Higher Centers • The Beloved • God
Being Present copyright © Fellowship of Friends, Inc.

Dying and Being Born

At the instant of death, our four lower centers will stop. Our thoughts will vanish. Our emotions, positive and negative, will evaporate. No more blinking or hunger or breath. A complete absence of ambition and movement. Only one thing will have the possibility of continuing across the threshold of death.

Clearly, this one thing—wordless presence—must be very ready for that definitive moment. It must be practiced and permanent enough to sustain itself, not only across the threshold, but into a new realm of time, space, and experience. As the Sufi mystic Rumi advised, “Come, my companions. Prepare for the dance in the other world.”

Such preparation has always been the purpose of objective schools. Nevertheless, the focus of school work is not just about looking ahead to our final moments. It is about living our moments now by passing through them with presence rather than in imagination; trying in each moment to be born and not to die when the next ‘I’ comes along. As Mr. Gurdjieff said, “The whole secret is that one cannot work for a future life without working for this one.”

As an exercise, try to be completely quiet for ten minutes. Sit perfectly still. Get as calm as you can. Turn down the volume of your emotions. Let loose the chain of your thoughts. Strive for a clear state of divided attention where you are simply aware of being aware—wordless presence with no destination other than the present.

Our teacher Robert Earl Burton points out that this state, if it gains sufficient command of itself, can continue after the four lower centers expire; that this is a taste of eternity now. Conversely, when we lose this state, we effectively die and must make conscious efforts to retrieve it and return to it—to be present again. That this is so difficult explains, in part, why objective schools exist.

Related thoughts

Death takes everything from us but our moments of presence. What you do with your life before death will determine what you do with your life after death.
Robert Earl Burton  

Man has the possibility of existence after death. But possibility is one thing and realization of the possibility is quite a different thing.
George Gurdjieff    

It is possible to attain a durable change of being, such change as may possibly survive after death, only if we use the perfected methods of school-work. Otherwise our attempts are too scattered.
Peter Ouspensky

Death is only interesting in relation to the search for what cannot die.
Rodney Collin  

Question: After death, do we disappear or continue? Answer: Right now, are you disappearing or continuing?
Zen Master

I have seen the deathless Triumphant, and the Morning Star who walks divinely among them.
Going Forth By Day  

You cannot expect to come into that world if you walk around like a sleepwalker in a dream.
Sufi Wisdom  

This moment is a moment of resurrection.

It is a naïve man who thinks we are not engaged in a fierce battle.

One thing is certain, that life flies; one thing is certain, and the rest is lies.
Omar Khayham

If we still do not know life, how can we expect to know death?

The "Eye of God." An astronomical photograph.

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