Wednesday, December 21, 2005


It has been almost a month since I have written for this blog. I apologize to those who have been reading here. I have been very involved in getting the book out and, now that it is about to happen, I have been anxious and not really in a space to write. For the past week though, I have been thinking that it is time to get back to work so here is my next effort.

I have been thinking much lately on the fragility of life. A young friend of mine just went through the unexpected death of her mother, a woman I greatly admired. I am not going to give any details as that would not be tasteful but I did want to reflect upon the whole process.

I have read from several quite different sources that, since we are all actually one being, we constantly feel the births and deaths of other beings. Fortunately we have within our beings what I think of as filters to keep from actually noticing. The exceptions are when death is right in front of us or when we know the person or when we decide to pay attention. If we did not have these filters we would probably be in a constant state of despair as the millions of beings that die every day impacted on our psyches. This would be particularly difficult if we were feeling the thousands of humans who pass on, mostly in fear and despair. But we do have filters and have the option of ignoring or not noticing the life spans of others.

What is true, as of this moment, is that no one who might be reading this will be alive in 100 years. Well that is not a total certainty I suppose but is a relative certainty. Never the less we continue to live our lives as if we are immortal. I have been noticing my own reactions to the aging process and realizing that I still do not totally believe that this life cycle will end, not at the gut emotional level anyway. On the other hand, sometimes I feel it quite strongly and am anxious to experience this experience that we have but once in each incarnation.

There is this Sufi dictum of die before death. You hear it a lot as it is bandied about as a kind of benchmark or ideal to strive for or possibly something to admire in others but you don’t really want to know what it feels like. Die before death. What do you suppose it means? What you must not do is decide from some intellectual point of view. This statement contains a great secret that a person either knows or does not know. It is one of the most important realizations when a person discovers that they want to know, that they really try to give definition to all of these pithy little sayings but that they simply do not know. The mind constantly strives to grasp and create meaning, to understand and define but sometimes it simply is not possible. Die before death means what it means. To define the saying prior to its realization in your being is to deny yourself the possibility of discovery.

So, what are your thoughts on death? I am curious.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


Anonymous said...

Death, It sounds so final. In a way it is, but only in a way, not in the whole picture of things. My sister is a fantastic chef, she deals with death every day, death in order to feed life. We all look at death individually in different ways. I would like to think I look at is as more of a birth, to newer, larger, and better things. When it's all said and done, it's the big picture that matters, not this insignificant time and material we have here with this life but what we choose to do with it. If we love, and I mean love, just like my dog does every day, no questions, no conditions, just loves me, if we love one another, death is no ending.

Nurelhuda said...

season's greetings! I finally figured out what I wanted to get you. I got you a pen drive , the one that fits into the usb port that you did not know you had and can replace a floppy disk..

Nurelhuda said...

i ll reply later, I actually have loads of work plus a friend plopped by to stay the night , a couple with 6 kids ..from 17-4..and they are all accomodated at last..phew!

molly said...

Death is one of the major parts of our life - the deaths of others and of our own bodies. Last night I went to a funeral/memorial service. I didn't go for the person who passed, but for my friend, his sister, who is left here. The death was not expected, and the family is somewhat in shock. I felt their pain in my heart, and found myself doing wazifa during the service. I've read where people think of reincarnation, and that we die and are reborn every moment. This is true for me. What is also true for me, is the passing of the physical is also is felt in the emotional, mental, spiritual, and etheric bodies. Some talk about passing on from this body to another adventure, and part of my studying is to prepare for that eventuality.

Qalbi said...

I had an experience right after 9/11 with my then one-year-old granddaughter. Grace is a very passionate being. I went to visit and was walking around the back of the house to the door. As I walked around the corner, there was Grace, heading off across the yard. We made eye contact and in that moment I realized that her being was all there, complete and ageless. I realized that every being is fully a person on earth, no matter how long they stay.

I picked her up and brought her inside. Her parents were right by the door and could not understand how she got out of her room where they thought she was, around them, through the door and even down the steps, which she had not yet been able to do!

Shazia S. said...

What cause conflict in my mind is the idea that humans may have filters which restrains them from paying attention on to matter as morose as death and dying. If we see the phenomenon of death around us ever so often, wouldn’t it abate the experience, wouldn’t it sap the intensity of it!? And maybe also putting us in a better position to accept the logic easily without questioning it. If there are certain such filters, is it for our better!? After all it once in a while experience that makes it all more difficult.

If in case I’m negating the idea of these filters resistance level, than why does the intensity of phenomenon such as death vary?

Thinking of a nurse working in the ICU ward of a metropolitan hospital, is he scared of death and seeing people dying in pain troubles him; does he question the logic and myth behind death as much as us do? Perhaps not.

In my opinion it’s the exposure and the relation to the victim that cause an impact on ones reaction upon death.

Shazia S. said...

Die Before Death:

A general human reaction would either to agree with the phrase or to completely deny it.

It’s very easy to deny an idea and to limit our mind to pay further attention. Death is final, eternal and irreversible but the logic of “Die before Death” always has a turning back. It’s more like an invisible slumber but yet so obvious. A religious scholar would say its ignorance toward faith and according to a dietician it’s failing to live a balanced quality life. At any rate it’s a state of negligence and the realization of this state is the first step towards the remedy.

Anonymous said...

But see a gentle bud in spring,
which slowly grows,
each stage,
in unique beauty,
which when ripe will blossom,
and there shine,
for awhile,
such is a baby's smile,
then like all things,
true to mother nature sheds it's wings,
welcoming the calling winds
and then the snow,
Death, befits it's

Anonymous said...

How many of us have truly lived,
perhaps that is one of the reasons we become fearful.Listening to Pir Vilayat talk about Nidra Yoga and Experiencing the Yoga Nidra of the Kripalu teachings, has helped me to see myself outside of the body' and experience that i am really not the body,but that conciousness, or intelligence,innately ours.
An experience similar to making oneself invisible.
I remember one time when i thought death was near, i worried about the mess in my house.Now I'm not afraid to die, sure there are things I'd still like to accomplish
but more importantly I look forward to that journey to the light unfettered by the Physical world.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Phillip, Musiwwir, I hope thats the correct spelling. Death, is suppose to be beautiful as it shall be with me, death has never been a subject with me until I faced it with a close member. Speaking on this, I do find it hard on a daily basis knowing when someone I love is struggling with death.
As for the world, death and torment, as I want to add, I do feel that and more. Its what's in the heart, thats what you feel. I cant save the world but I can feel it.
Go In Love,,,,, Shakti

Fawna said...

Hi Phillip-

This idea of 'die before death' is a profound one indeed. Thank-you for sharing. If we allow ourselves to ponder our mortality deeply enough in our youth, we carry with us the true value of life. We are free of the fear of death when we embrace it as an integral part of life.

It is this one notion that Western religions seem to omit that perhaps many can benefit from. The humility that comes with respecting the magnificense of death and it's part in life frees us to embrace a quality of living and an immense joy that is pehaps as yet unknown to mankind.

I also believe in the cosmic union which represents all of mankind as one soul. :)

jules said...

to "die before death"............
As we are born with what appears (to us at first) to be a new slate in each lifetime, as a youth it can often feel as though we die before death a thousand times. The loss of our first love, the first death of a loved one, the death of a pet, social blinders etc.
When in fact each of these experiences is offering us something new that we need learn.
There is a series of books political satiers by Terry Pratchett, in which Death one of the central characters comes to claim all souls upon dying. To "die before Death". He is like the ferryman, it is his job to take all souls to their next destination.
I do love this thought and hence it is how i have expained Death to my children, so in a way for us (cheekily we do die before Death). I do believe Musawwir may be on the right path when he speaks of filters. I live in a rural area there is an abundance of wildlife each day i pass another dead animal on the road, and each time as i pass i give a blessing.
I am a hopeless romantic it would appear.