Transcending Fear of DeathBy SHEPHERD HOODWIN
Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
November 1, 2009, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Maggie Heinze
One of the reasons that a series of human lifetimes on the physical plane can allow the soul to develop further, to become more subtle and aware, is that there's much on the physical plane that is unsubtle, coarse, and lacking in awareness. It is easy here to be distracted from what is real and fine. Often, you have to deliberately choose it in order not to be completely inundated by coarse distractions.
There's a famous song about New York City with a line that says "If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere." That almost can be said about undertaking a series of human lifetimes on Earth. It is not the most difficult of all the planets you could have selected; however, it is among the most distracting, among the hardest to remember what is real and true. If you can manage to stay aware of what is real and true in the presence of the loud clamoring of what is not real and true, it indicates that you have evolved a useful capacity that you will always have, so that when it is once again easier, because the distractions are fewer or absent, you will not only be aware of what is real and true, but you will appreciate it more and you will more thoroughly engage with it.
One of the favorite stories told by humans is that of what happens to youthful optimism and idealism. The young are, by definition, more recently from the astral plane, where what is real and true is not so obscured. That is not to say that everyone who is nonphysical understands what is real and true; it is just that the physical plane is able to harbor more illusion. The physical body itself, while a magnificent and complex creation, is hardwired for the purposes of the education that you are to receive, including many things that obscure what is real and true, giving you the opportunity to practice figuring that out.
There's nothing wrong with anything physical, including the body--the physical body is not dirty; it is simply what it is meant to be, which is a limited creation. Like every animal, it will eventually die, which is completely fitting.
It is really quite ingenious to put eternal souls into a finite body and give the soul the challenge of awakening within it. At first, one is bound to be confused by the body's built-in alarm system that is always warning about death. The alarm system is designed to help the body-person avoid dying prematurely. When the soul understands the purpose of it, it doesn't take it quite so seriously, although it respects it. However, before the soul awakens in the body, the person may be terrified when she realizes that there will be death. Obviously, that is not a surprise to the eternal soul, nor is that a problem. However, this terror about impending death, which may be blatant or subtle, can prompt the body-person to seek relief, and maybe the awakening that will allow for more peaceful presence in the body.
Your holiday of Halloween, with it's playful engagement with skeletons and other death symbols, is an attempt, especially in the young, to diffuse some of this underlying terror. Consciousness is often more clever than you give it credit for. In the American tradition, at least, there is an association between the symbols of death and such pleasurable things as candy and other forms of play, which is a way of saying to young people, especially, "You can lighten up a little here about this death thing."
There is also a rather clever pairing of celebrations in the Christian tradition, where, around the Winter Solstice, there is a celebration of birth (Christmas). Then, in the spring, soon enough that one still remembers the birth that was celebrated, there is an exploration of death, but immediately after that, rebirth is celebrated (Easter). What that really communicates to the subconscious is, "Yes, you were born on the physical plane and then you will die, but after that, you will probably reincarnate; in any case, you will also be reborn in the sense that death on the physical plane is a rebirth on the astral plane, so in either case it is good."
We have discussed false personality, which is commonly called ego, or more properly false ego, because there is also true ego--ego simply means self. However, most people know what you mean when you say ego, as in "So and so has a big ego." You mean that that person is false and inflated--not genuine.
False personality is an appropriate part of the physical plane learning experience. It is a source of pain that may motivate individuals to seek the awakening of the soul within the body. Things never work out for the ego; they may seem to temporarily, but whatever is inflated eventually deflates. The ego makes much of the fear of death because the ego will die. If the false ego dies before physical death because the soul awakens within the body, this is cause for celebration, although the ego doesn't think so. The ego is, you could say, a bundle of neuroses futilely trying to ward off death and make itself significant, when it is only a temporary learning tool at best.
Those who identify as being the false personality might, rather illogically, convince themselves that even though they will die, they will live on somehow. For example, the rich may hope that they will live on by having a building named after them, but when you examine that, it's rather flimsy. Most of the future users of that building will not be very interested in knowing about the person that the building was named after, so it's not really much in the way of immortality.
Of course, the soul already knows that it is eternal and that everything on the physical plane will eventually be recycled. "Recycled" is perhaps a more pleasing way to look at it. Humans are increasingly aware that recycling is a positive thing, whereas if you say "ashes to ashes, dust to dust," that sounds more depressing, although it is basically recycling, so that you or another soul can use the raw materials of the physical plane again in order to further refine your consciousness.
The soul does not awaken in the body all at once, and rarely does it occur fully. In most people, there is a mix: parts of self that are more awakened, and parts that are less awakened, so everyone still has some false ego, more or less--and that's fine.
It is the ego that comes into conflict with other egos; there's not much conflict between souls. Discarnate souls--those who are full time on the astral plane between lives or before or after the cycle of lifetimes--get along fine, not because they're evolved, necessarily, but because the soul, free of the human body, is not so confined. Therefore, there are not the stressors you have when you are in an animal body. Bodies have needs that, when they are unfulfilled, lead to suffering and, therefore, conflict. For example, one person is hungry and needs food, while another is hoarding food, careful about his own future needs: there you have a script for conflict. On the astral plane, there is no need for food, so this kind of conflict would simply not arise. That's why discarnate souls get along pretty well. If they are not of similar consciousness, they can simply choose not to be together. Certainly that is more pleasant, but it is not as growthful.
On the physical plane, where you are confronted with a scenario of "What do you do when there is not enough food and you are hungry?" it gives you all sorts of opportunities to awaken. Having to choose means having to engage. You are given the opportunity of having to sort out the real from the unreal, which you would not have if you were not in this false construct of living in a mortal animal body. Of course, non-human animals get hungry, too, and sometimes they compete or fight it out, but they are not designed to explore a wide range of choices concerning that. They will either survive or they won't, and generally their life spans aren't that long anyway. They do their best to survive, and if they don't, they'll just get another body in due course. It is not a charged emotional issue, because they're simply not built that way.
Sentient creatures, meaning those that also function more intellectually, complicate these issues, and it is the complexity that makes it interesting. Most people like stories, in books, movies, television, and so forth. Before the media existed, people had to memorize stories and pass them along, and this was deemed important: storytellers were a valued part of each society. You would not captivate an audience with a story about two people who were hungry and competing for the same food, in which one killed the other and ate the food, the end. The reason that is not an interesting story to humans, although that would be the way the story would unfold in the animal kingdom (or it could), is that you are attracted to the stories that shed light on the choices you are confronted with in your own life.
You naturally want to learn how to make more satisfying choices. As your consciousness becomes more complex, you might, for example, discover that winning a battle at the expense of someone else's survival does not, in the long run, end up being so satisfying anymore. Animals might also cooperate rather than simply compete, but because animals are not very analytical, if they do conflict and one triumphs over another, it will not likely think much later about the choices made; it's just what happened.
Humans are not, among themselves, equally analytical. Not all will reflect on past experiences or have remorse about choices that might not have been the most satisfying from a larger perspective. However, increasingly, the soul wants to have a richer experience by becoming more spiritually awake in the body. At first, it may be interesting, even fascinating, just to experience what the body does on an animal level, but that can become boring. Therefore, there develops in the body-person a sort of itch to understand more and become more aware.
Eventually, this will include developing more awareness about the death of the body. Simple religious beliefs can be placeholders in consciousness until more awareness is developed. An example is the idea that when the body dies, the person will encounter something marvelous that is the same for everyone in that religion (or, at least, for all the so-called good people). The body-person may not yet be capable of a full awakening of the soul, but it will function better if it has some understanding that there is something beyond the lifespan of the body. Without that, there could be carte blanche for the ego to run rampant, so this provides some checks and balances. It is communicated to people that if they let their ego run rampant and be as ruthless as it might be in the single-minded pursuit of survival, as it defines it, there could be a cost after death. The soul may be attracted to this kind of religious teaching to help it evolve past pure selfishness.
Infants are purely selfish, and that is not unappealing in an infant because it is appropriate. That same is true with infant souls. However, as the soul craves a more satisfying experience of the physical plane, it will grasp at something that will take it beyond pure selfishness, although, at first, not something very sophisticated.
There are, of course, fervent atheists who disavow these placeholders; they say, "Let's face it, this is nonsense." but then they usually have some other placeholders. There is usually implicit a code of ethics that states that it is worthwhile to be a good person, even if you are not going to be rewarded after death. The soul may be attracted to this kind of belief system if it had been previously too firmly entrenched in religious beliefs that were no longer providing a good environment for its evolution.
Some take this lack of a religious belief system as an excuse to return to greater selfishness, but as the soul goes along, that doesn't feel so great--it is not in keeping with where the soul is within its development. Pure selfishness might feel just fine to an infant soul, but the young soul has had more experience and knows from it that there are consequences. Some who take greed to an extreme at this time may then find themselves back in some kind of religious fervor to try to undo that.
At any point along the way, there can be an awakening of the soul within the body, when suddenly the person realizes that he is not his body; this can happen even at the infant soul level. When it is a profound and sustained experience, it is called "enlightenment." However, for most, it is a fleeting experience because the soul does not yet have the chops to hold to that awareness in the face of all the distractions and confusing choices being thrust at it.
Still, even a momentary glimpse of the viewpoint of the soul, which knows that it is eternal, can have a beneficial influence on the course of a lifetime and the soul's evolution in general. The simple reason is that it feels better to be awake in the body--there is peace--whereas the ego-self is never entirely peaceful: it is always vigilantly avoiding death. At a certain point, this gets old for everyone, but the point at which this occurs is not the same for each soul.
Few souls have sustained awakenings within the milieu of their religious institution. However, in the rituals, there are opportunities for those glimpses. The chanting that some do, for instance, may still the mind and cause a glimpse of the eternal. Any form of beautiful music can lift a person out of her distractions temporarily. Some of the world's most beautiful music has been written within religious institutions.
Religious institutions are also political and cultural--they have a lot of earthly power, particularly where they are predominant. Those who are in the hierarchy of religions have a lot of secular power, particularly among their members. They can intimidate through fear to hold their power. However, what most keeps people coming back are those fleeting glimpses into the eternal through ceremony, music, and prayer. Prayer is a momentary focusing of the mind on what it believes to be higher, which can be an opening for essence (the soul).
Many religious beliefs are erroneous, but it is a mistake to assume that if religions were eliminated, that that would eliminate childish and superstitious beliefs. If people are childish and superstitious, they will just create new childish and superstitious beliefs if the old ones are somehow obliterated. The communist governments of China and the Soviet Union, for example, did their best to obliterate religion, although they did not entirely succeed. They simply replaced it with a different kind of religion, a different collection of childish and irrational beliefs, because what other option is there if the soul has not been awakened in a substantial number of individuals? Unawakened people need some kind of beliefs to act as placeholders in consciousness.
Making peace with death is often a pivotal point in the soul's journey through the physical plane. Even more important is coming to an awareness that, as an eternal soul, you are, at this very moment, in eternity and infinity, and that life can be beautiful right now--there can be joy. Even while you are dealing with the copious distractions of the physical plane, there can be love and great beauty. When death is accepted, one can then truly live.
To many people, the idea of living life to the fullest means having wealth, fame, partying with abandon, or whatever; in other words, external doing. These things may be appropriate for those who are young or who have been overly circumscribed in their lives. However, the more advanced experience is living life fully in whatever is happening. If you are disabled and are living in one room, but you are awakened in your body, you will have a much different experience than someone who is only aware of the ego; everything becomes more alive, even with limitations. You notice details, visually and orally; a layer of suppression has been peeled off and everything becomes more vivid: taste, touch, smell, hearing, and colors. The beauty of a single object, natural or human-made, could thrill you: a single leaf, the texture of wood, a candle flame, or the smell of food.
This doesn't mean that you will no longer want to do things in the world, but as your soul awakens in your body, you will not approach your ambitions in the same way. You may still want to accomplish certain things, but you are not doing them to try to assure your immortality.
You instead have the incentive that doing them allows you to experience more of your own creativity or ability; that they flesh out your experience of being an eternal soul who is temporarily incarnate. If your accomplishments don't end up taking the form you had originally envisioned, you are content with whatever you are able to accomplish. The goal is important, but the experience along the way is the focus; the end product then takes care of itself.
We have given a simplified outline here. It is obviously not such an easy thing for humans to achieve. If it were easy, then more humans would have achieved it. However, understanding what this progression looks might aid you in being more awake in your life.
|Q. I'm used to being able to immerse my body in oceans, forests, lakes, etc. Now I live in a semi-arid desert with treeless mountains. How do I get my body to adjust, to find beauty in what seems to be emptiness?|
Some people are quite responsive to the stark beauty of the desert, and some are not. It is a matter of personal preference that can develop over many lifetimes. There are two ways that you can work with this. One is to foster a greater appreciation for the majesty of the desert, meditating with it and asking it to reveal itself to you; work on noticing details that you might not have appreciated before. The other is to bring some of what you more easily resonate with into your current environment. You could install fountains in your home or yard, large plants, or even small ones. You could listen to recordings of the ocean, and so forth. If you approach it from both directions, you will probably have a good result.
When you awaken as a soul, you become a lot larger than your local body, so it actually becomes possible to tune in to the ocean even though it is thousands of miles away. Try relaxing and remembering the feeling of being at the ocean or in a forest. Some of that experience will probably come back to you.
|Q. I have a question about dealing with those who are not yet awakened but are very certain of their religious beliefs. They believe someone like me, who does not believe as they do, to be wrong. They seem to view my calm knowledge as somehow arrogant while they are quite rigid in the certainty of their one rightness.|
Those who are as you describe are not yet hungering for a greater soul awakening; they find that their current beliefs are doing the job for them. Or, if that is not the case, they are not feeling at liberty to let on. The sensible approach is to let them be until a hunger for something different emerges for them.
Soul awakening is not primarily an intellectual experience, so you can't talk someone into it. However, those who are ready for it or are close to being ready for it can be engaged with in a way that might help them get there more quickly.
Don't overlook the power of listening. Sometimes talking to such people just engages their defenses, but listening with your whole soul presence may draw forth something new from them.
| Q. How can I make it less painful to be with them?
If you don't actually need to be with them, maybe you are better off with people more on your wavelength. However, if, for some reason, you need to be with them, try reading between the lines. By that, we mean meaning listening for any truth you can glean that they may not consciously see in their own thoughts. Otherwise, simply listening from your highest consciousness can be a love offering to them.
The effort to change others is often exhausting and futile, but being with people in the best energy that you have to offer can foster your own spiritual growth.
|Q. A friend suffers from depression. I've been able to help him in the past, but now I don't know what to do.|
His experience is fairly common among those who have firmly gotten beyond selfishness but have not yet arrived at transcendence. Therefore, he feels deep responsibility for others, yet with a sense of powerlessness to make everything okay for those who carry heavy burdens. He is trying to take on their suffering, but he doesn't know what to do with it. Much of what he feels is not his own energies but those of other people. The frustration is his, but most of the heaviness is taken on from others.
The ancient image of the man trying to push a boulder up a mountain is in essence what is happening with your friend. His depression is a reaction to the denial of suffering by those who are still in the selfish phase; he feels he has to care more because they care less. He feels that if he did not carry this heavy weight, he would be like the selfish people who are adding to the suffering of others.
Two realizations will allow his soul to awaken more in his body at this time. One is accepting suffering as part of this world, as the Buddha taught. The other is realizing that, although he cannot change the choices of others, he can lighten their load, not by taking on their heaviness but by bringing his own light. He knows how to do this but he is held back by the belief that it would be selfish of him to be happy while others suffer.
He believes there to be a virtue to his suffering along with others. A more evolved viewpoint is to choose to let the joy of his soul lighting up this moment reach to those who carry heavy burdens. Each person can do a little bit externally to make the way of others easier, but no one can change the karma or the choices of others, including the choices of those who add to the burdens of others.
The world is as it is; it will change moment by moment because of the choices that each person makes. However, no one, no matter how well intentioned, can do very much to change the lives of others beyond shining the light of his own soul. That is the gift that each one has to offer.
A person may, at first, feel powerless because he cannot make all the suffering go away. However, as your soul awakens in you, you realize that it would not be appropriate to take away the free choice of others, even if you could. What is appropriate is to be as fully self-realized as you can possibly be. That is what may inspire others to do the same, at their level and pace.
| Q. How do you know if you're awakened or not?
When you are more awake than before, you are more engaged with the present. You feel more alive. There's more energy flowing in your life. You feel more thankful for what is now. Your senses are heightened. You find more beauty in everyday things.
There are certain thresholds of awakening that are quite marked, but we don't mean to imply that suddenly a light switch moves and everything is different. For most, awakening is in stages. It is likely that if you could somehow put how you are now side by side with how you were twenty years ago, you could see that you have awakened somewhat, that you have made progress. When progress is gradual, it is harder to validate. Sometimes, others can see a difference and help you validate.
It is a step-by-step process. All you really need to do right now is be as awake as you can. If you keep doing that, as you remember to do so, you will eventually be a lot more awake. Specific explorations into what is blocking your awakening may yield some big leaps forward. Looking at the bastions of your ego and being willing to give them up can result in great strides. Facing your fears head-on can often accelerate awakening.
What might be called "right action," meaning doing things that are a blessing to others and to the world, can accelerate awakening. The principle here is that you act as if you're already awake, and your awareness may start to mirror that. So when you model compassion for others, it may bring you into an experience that you didn't have as fully earlier.
If you have been feeling an inner urge to do something, maybe something creative that you have not acted on, doing so may open a flow in you that brings greater awakening because there's an aspect of yourself that now has a way to get out.
Life itself is a spiritual practice. For most human beings, simply, say, meditating all day would not actually bring the greatest awakening, because it would bring forth just one part of you. Living a full and varied life and seeking to bring as much awareness to everything you do can bring the most possible awakening.
However, being distracted by the ample distractions that this world has will keep you on automatic pilot. Taking the bull by the horns, as they say, slowing things down a little bit and working to be present in whatever you are doing will allow you as an eternal soul to catch up with your body and take things more in hand.
We invite you to feel your own aliveness in this moment. Imagine yourself as the eternal soul that you are, having awakened more in your previously distracted body-self. Notice yourself radiating through your eyes so that your presence reaches out to everything you see. Notice how that feels. Feel your eternal presence reaching out through your hearing and embracing the sounds that you hear. Experience the sensuality of reaching out through your sense of touch into your physical world. Notice the pleasure of breathing.
Realize that you, right now, have eternal life; you don't need to die to get it. You are eternal right now, and you are alive right now; you always have been and you always will be. You may have forgotten, but now you remember. You are awakening in your body. Notice how good that feels.
|Q. My mother passed four months ago; I'd like to know how she is and what is her process right now? Is she reviewing her life now?|
She has mostly released the discomforts of her decline in health and is feeling very happy, relishing the freedom of not having to deal with the limitations of an unhealthy body. Her energy is flowing brightly.
She is not reviewing her life yet but that is not far off; she is enjoying herself too much to think about physical suffering now, but she will do it when she is ready.
About Shepherd Hoodwin
Shepherd has been channeling since 1986. He also does intuitive readings, mediumship, past-life regression, healing, counseling, and channeling coaching, where he teaches others to channel. He has conducted workshops on the Michael teachings throughout the United States. His other books include Enlightenment for Nitwits, Loving from Your Soul: Creating Powerful Relationships, Meditations for Self-Discovery, Opening to Healing, Growing Through Joy, Being in the World, and more to come.
Visit his website at ShepherdHoodwin.com
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