Format Gallery

What happens to our sense of ‘me’ after death? Does our consciousness reincarnate in another form to live another life? How should we prepare for our death – and what does that even mean? Insights of the type shared by these six teachers in this video gallery helped me discover a new perspective from which to grapple with such questions about the transformation that is death.

Alan Watts
"A Happy Death"
In this 8-min excerpt from one of his many lectures, Alan invites us to embrace the other half of the natural rhythm that is death.

"You can only die well if you understand this system of waves… that you are just as much the dark space beyond death as you are the light interval called life. These are just two sides of you because 'you' is the total wave. See, you can't have half a wave. Nobody ever saw waves which just had crests and no troughs. So you can't have half a human being who is born but doesn't die; half a thing. That would only be half a thing."

Shakti Maggi
"Nothing Dies, The Endless Kaleidoscope"
Though the video quality is less than ideal, Shakti Maggi's concepts on death and 'reincarnation' (my term, not hers) come through with the loving clarity that is her hallmark in this short 4-min. video.

"The body, it is simply a movement of energy arising from the stillness of your being …[during death, this movement] will be simply receding back into stillness."
"Death: The Essential Teachings"
In this 5-min. video, Adyashanti describes how the process of aging can lead to the wisdom and freedom of letting go.

"But certainly, enlightenment is absolutely intrinsically linked with death. There is no deep lasting liberation without death, without dying before you die, without the psychological self giving way. They're intimately linked; you don't get one without the other. They're absolutely linked together."

Rupert Spira
"What Happens to Awareness After Death"
Rupert explains why we experience different states of awareness and offers a description of 'reincarnation' (my term, not his).

"Remember, the body is an appearance in the mind. So when the body dies, just a particular localization of consciousness disperses… Consciousness doesn’t dissolve."

Terence McKenna
"Life And Death"

A 6-min lecture snippet in which Terence comments on the origins of the body and exploring the after-death space with psychedelics.

"So I think what biology is, is the intrusion into 3-dimensional space and time of hyper-dimensional objects. And the other clue to that, that seems an argument for it, is that we do have this thing called 'the mind' but we can't find it anywhere. It doesn't seem to be anywhere… [at death] I think probably these objects retract back into hyperspace - higher space ... we clothe ourselves in matter but we are not matter and so to actually complete a human cycle of existence, you have to go into death. It's where you came from..."

Eckhart Tolle
"How Will You Experience Death?"
In this short excerpt from a radio interview, Eckhart talks about a choice the consciousness will face after the body's death.

"What is left is simply consciousness. Temporarily, perhaps, it will still have - not a physical form but exist as a separate form … the choice may be there of taking on another body or of removing yourself completely. There are many people now - those who are ripe for realization - if you sense within yourself, you will feel whether or not you want to live again."

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Alan Watts

Alan Watts Organization, Store, Wikipedia page

Alan Watts was a British-born philosopher, author and speaker. Though he gravitated towards teachings from Zen Buddhism, Alan was deeply knowledgeable about several spiritual traditions, even completing seminary school at age 30 and spending five years as an ordained Episcopal priest. Feeling the need to choose between the Christian and Eastern traditions, Alan later elected to leave the ministry and moved to San Francisco in 1951 to join the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies. He remained with the academy for only a few years before leaving to try his hand as a freelance writer and radio show host in the mid-1950s. The local popularity of his weekly radio show, Way Beyond the West, during which Alan shared his interpretations of Eastern philosophies with his Western audience, brought him national attention and by the time the counter-culture movement of the '60s was in full swing, Alan was in the perfect position to emerge as the spokesman he became. Alan went on to publish a number of books and essays on Zen Buddhism and continued to speak and write until his death in 1973.
“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations! At last you found out!” --Alan Watts
What's been helpful: I tend to think of Alan Watts as 'The Richard Burton of the Non-dual Teachers Club'; he has a voice you at once imagine coming from some Shakespearean stage. I came upon a video of Alan while surfing the net for 'consciousness' content and the first thing that struck me was his voice; it is the epitome of whiskey-and-cigar-soaked. Then he laughs and you can hear it - the man is full of whiskey and cigar smoke. A whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking non-dual spiritual teacher who sounds like a Shakespearean actor and can knowledgeably cite various theological texts at length? ... Sign. Me. Up.

In the first few months after awakening, I was still confusing 'religion' with 'spirituality' and so was immediately drawn to (and relieved by) Alan's frank and amusing approach to spirituality. But soon after this initial contact, I moved on to focus on other teachers, I think largely because Alan refers to such a wide range of theological concepts that I was getting distracted by the details. Now that I've spent time developing my own understanding of the nondual view, I've come back to find I'm really enjoying Alan's more flamboyant - but always educational - lectures and books. And the amount of esoteric information running around in this man's head is not just a wonder to behold, it also adds a richness to his stories that is uniquely Alan Watts.

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