Part I: The Truth about Death
Death Is Not Your Concern
a talk by Da Free John
February 18, 1974
MASTER DA FREE JOHN: Because of our position in the midst of things, we tend to think of death over against life. But when we begin to understand, then we see the transformation that manifests as living, experiencing, and dying as a continuum, a single process. Because of the seekers fixed activity as Narcissus, the eternally recurring mortal, he tends to think that death is fundamentally a physical event. Because he is frightened, he likes to think that death stands over against his psyche. He likes to think that perhaps the psyche, that individuated consciousness, that sense of forms and complications and images and ideas and experiences and memories, survives. But when he begins to understand, he sees that death is not merely a physical event, but a psycho-physical event, in which not only the body dies, but the psyche also. Therefore, while alive we must enjoy wisdom relative not only to the body and the world, but also relative to the psyche.
The life-death process is a necessary and ultimately happy transformation in which ones fundamental existence is Realized. But when the individual examines existence from the point of view of Narcissus, who is fearful and separate, he cannot tolerate endless transformation. He has no tolerance for psycho-physical life or death. When he begins to assume his mortality and feels he cannot escape it, then he tries to escape psychic transformation, or psychic death. Yet the entire transformation must inevitably occur. When his resistance to that radical transformation breaks down, then its fullness is enacted, and the individual realizes ecstasy with continually greater profundity in the midst of the endless unfolding of existence.
So one who understands not only allows physical death at some point, but also allows psychic death. If he is smart, he allows it while alive. Then he has no ultimate fear of transforming events. Then he need not defend himself against them with philosophies, descriptions, dogmas, experiences, and psycho-physical rigidity. He lives fully and creatively. He passes through psychic death while alive, and he enjoys genuine understanding of his relationship to the body or its various states. He becomes capable of bodily death.
Even so, there is no reason to seek death, no reason to leave this world unnaturally. For very real and unreasonable reasons this psycho-physical manifestation is given to you to deal with, and it is fitted to the qualities of your karmic and pre-conscious dependence. It is a continual test, and it contains the continual possibility for lessons, for freedom, for Liberation into the Divine, for a truly humorous life in God. This life is very much your appropriate business, rather than philosophical and traditional spiritual considerations about how to get out of it. You are not ultimately released from the limitations of life except in the fullness of the enjoyment of God.
The human manifestation is unique, and the classical spiritual traditions have valued it above the apparently glorious, heavenly states that may be lived in subtle worlds. Man has the capacity to move through all functional conditions, all limited states, all subtle states, and all Divine states and to Realize the Divine absolutely. This capacity is not enjoyed by beings in the subtle worlds any more than it is enjoyed by chickens in this world Thus, the human state is valued.
There is no fixed world. In this world, which is essentially a vital manifestation, everything seems so fixed and solid and moveless and not capable of being influenced by your mere mentalizing. But even this world is not fixed, as you begin to see as soon as you fall into God and become humorous. Then you see how unfixed and fluid this world is, and how unfixed and fluid the vast, infinite cosmos. The manifest realm is fluid, shapeless, and unreasonable. The God-world is God. And when you fall into God, then every world becomes the God-world, because you are constantly intuiting the Divine therein.
Thus, there are great dimensions, great cosmic possibilities, into which you may drift and enjoy a kind of mortality that seems immortal. There are worlds in which longevity is intensified almost to the point of immortality, but not to literal immortality. Even those worlds are declining and passing through cycles. There is no fixed condition. There is no condition to be maintained other than the Divine, the Real, the Eternal Condition. There are Siddha-worlds and angelic worlds, endless worlds that cannot be conceived from the point of view of Man. If you look out into the night at the infinite numbers of stars and planets, what you see is still only one little tiny galaxy. Through a large telescope you may see thousands of galaxies that contain billions of possible worlds. Yet even these are only those visible to us within this portion of the light spectrum, this narrow vibration in which we conceive visibility.
All the visible galaxies that we can see are perhaps something like a single cell on the big toe of what seems to us to be a gigantic person but who is perhaps a little troll in some other world much like this one. You cannot analyze the possible conditions in the worlds and the planes of consciousness and come out having gained some knowledge or having fixed for yourself some superior spiritual destiny. Investigation of the possibilities of existence can only ultimately confound you. It is a kind of suffering. It serves you like suffering, in that it makes you fall apart and at last yield to the Divine.
The event of a human death in the midst of all of that is nothing. Everybody attributes so much importance to death and wants it to be something so terribly profound, whereas the human psycho-physical death is not even worthy of being called a minor incident among the worlds. In the midst of the path of your own ultimate existence, it is not even a minor incident. It seems important only from the point of view of fear.
It seems important to the mind because the minds fundamental function is to defend the ego. The mind is a hedge around the sense of separate existence. As such the mind is always set against desire. The mind and desire are two opposing principles. Desire is always moving you toward a formless, transcendent condition, always moving you toward union, toward concentration on what is outside yourself, toward attention in something beyond the knot of the self-sense. While desire is moving you, you are also continually obsessed with the mind. And the mind is always trying to create a hedge around the ego, to continue this sense of separate existence. Thus, life is a conflict between the enclosure of mind and the explosion of desire. Both movements assume the ego or the sense of separate self. Desire wants to remove it and mind wants to reinforce it and make it immortal.
The Truth is not in following the path of mind or the path of desire, the path of self-preservation or the path of self-fulfillment. The Truth is not in either of those things but in understanding the underlying principle in this adventure of life, the constant realization of conflict.
When the separate self-sense is no longer the principle of your manifest existence from moment to moment, then the whole program of mind and desire is loosed, undermined, undone. Then at the root of your existence is the continuous intuition of the fullness of the Divine. That intuition transforms mind and desire and makes life quite a different event, even though it may appear to be the same as it was. One who has understood in this fundamental way is happy while alive. He continues to think and use his mind and psyche, apparently like everyone else. He continues to act and be moved, apparently like everyone else. But mind and body are no longer the principles of his existence. He is no longer founded in them, because he is no longer founded in separate self-existence and the drama of Narcissus that is enacted as mind and desire.
It is not death that is significant, but the living process of understanding, or radical consciousness in God. That process, that understanding, makes everything from lunch to death something new, something known in Truth, no longer a matter of concern. It makes the vast cosmic process no longer a matter of concern. The whole profound philosophical consideration of death is appropriate only for the seeker, who is still bound to the dramatization of the adventure of Narcissus. Such an individual is very concerned with his own death, with his own spiritual destiny. Such a person is always interested in hearing all about how it is after death and all the planes of consciousness and all the cosmic and transcendental dimensions. If for one reason or another he is able to believe these descriptions with some intensity, he feels somewhat consoled.
Even so, there is no idea that lasts beyond your final breath. The massive philosophical and psychological defense that people create through a lifetime of seeking all goes, in an instant. People wind up after death in the same condition that they suffered while alive, or worse, with more from which they must be purified. But the individual who understands the functions of life and mind and his relationship to them is released from dependence upon the drama that the usual man exercises in the midst of his functions. At the point of death such a one goes through the same rip-off process as any other one, but he is released, truly. He passes into a different functional existence, relieved of the secondary bondage that the usual man has to deal with, everything that causes the usual man to drift back, unconscious, to lesser states and confusions and mysterious conditions.
Therefore, it is better to understand the mind than to create philosophy with it. The fundamental condition of consciousness is what passes beyond this life, not your philosophy and all your ideas and experiences. Such things do not have the strength to pass from one room to another. You cannot even hold on to your philosophy or your mantra when you pass by a cross-legged nude on a couch! So what do you think happens from life to death and back to life again? As soon as a desire or some intense condition arises, philosophy and the usual practices go out the bottom. If your little search is that fragile during life, what do you think occurs in the midst of such a profound event as psycho-physical death?
The man of understanding knows absolutely nothing about what will happen after death, any more than he knows what will happen in the next moment while alive. He may hear rumors in the world and in his mind about what might tend to occur, but he is not involved or concerned with the fixing of future events, either for himself or for any other. He is involved with the process of understanding, instantly. He is always involved with the process of life, as a conscious event in this moment, and now in this moment, and now in this moment, and now in this moment.
The man of understanding sees the smithereens of the worlds and knows them to exist in the great Consciousness, not merely in space. He knows the worlds themselves are not fixed, nor do they represent any fundamental limitation to his State. Thus, he is not a man of concerns, or of programs, or of descriptions. He is utterly free of all of them. He has become always already ecstatic. For such a one there is therefore no straightforward description of Reality, or of the cosmos, or of life. Only God is apparent to such a one. Only the paradox survives.