Blown glass is one of my favorite forms of art. In this Oscar-winning documentary short, jazz music and 1950’s film are combined to contrast the art of handmade crystal with the machine production of glass bottles.
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.
|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."
|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."
|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 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."
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..."
|In this short excerpt from an audience Q&A session, Eckhart talks about the transformation consciousness will face after the body's end.
"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal ultimately exists….. Beyond the appearance on the level of form, which is the only level where death exists, it is a transition from one form into another form or from one form into formlessness. That is what death is, no more than that. Nothing real dies…. It's a transmutation of form."
Of the numerous ‘psychedelic’ videos I’ve seen, this Vimeo short has one of the better depictions of the hallucinatory effects observed in the natural world when under the influence of psychotropics (per my experience :))
“Calling the psychedelic Others!”
Having come to my awakening through the use of psilocybin, I’ve had a deep interest in all things psychotropic ever since. Now that I’m wading around in the psychedelic world, I find myself a bit surprised I didn’t end up here earlier, given that psychedelics inspired so many of the artists who produced the sci-fi, gaming, digital art and etc. that I’ve delighted in all my life. But though I enjoyed what altered minds produced, personally I had bought into the cultural message that these drugs were more dangerous than helpful and so I barely explored their use myself. And when it came to stories about spiritual revelations at the hands of these drugs, my lack of firsthand knowledge let me to buy into mainstream skepticism about the ‘real’ nature of these psychedelic encounters. Then I had one – which taught me that psychotropic-induced experiences can feel just as real as sitting on a chair in front of a computer, typing out blog posts (which feels pretty darn real, I assure you). In fact, next to experiencing Source consciousness, I’d say feeling the ‘realness’ of existing outside of form and time while tripping on psilocybin was the most surprising part of awakening. (My consciousness exists apart from my body! Who knew!?)
Given the illegality of psychedelics in this country, I was doubtful I’d find many people in the public space willing to share stories of spiritual encounters while on these substances. Wrong! This doubt might have borne out ten or fifteen years ago but today, the internet is awash in content from people exploring altered states of consciousness – even of people tripping on camera (whoa!). Below are four such films, featuring more of these truly courageous and generous men and women willing to share intimate details about their lives and psychedelic experiences. After watching these films, I was better equipped with the tools to both understand my previous journey and prepare for the next. Perhaps just as importantly, recognizing many of the psychedelic experiences shared in these films gave me a sense of having found a community of fellow travelers – a wonderful gift.
“It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.” … <wink>
Jude Currivan, Ph.D., is a cosmologist, futurist, planetary healer and author. She has a Master’s degree in Physics from Oxford University specializing in quantum physics and cosmology, and a Doctorate in Archaeology from the University of Reading researching ancient cosmologies. Jude has traveled to more than 70 countries, worked with wisdom keepers from many traditions, and been a life-long researcher into the scientific and experiential understanding of the nature of reality. The author of five books, her latest is The Cosmic Hologram: In-formation at the Center of Creation.
(on studying both archeology and cosmology) "... I never saw a disparity between the two. What I saw was a different language. And I also saw a bit of a sidetrack over the last couple of centuries when science, which was sacred science ... chose to look into just the physical realm. And there's almost a schism between that wholeness, which is what cosmology's all about, and the literal physics of the physical realm. And we've gone down that route - and it's a route that's brought us amazing technologies - but it's a route, in a way, that's also dismembered our collective psyche. And I feel now we're on the verge of remembering who we really are and I'm very excited... I wanted to write the latest book, The Cosmic Hologram 60 yrs ago because what it's sharing is how I've experienced 'realities' all my life but I couldn't write it until now because the evidence wasn't there until now... What the science is showing is what the ancient spiritual awareness has always been; that all that we call reality is intimately, fundamentally, innately interconnected... It's truly revealing that the deepest nature of reality is indeed unified." --Jude Currivan, from the SAND video 'The Emergence of Consciousness Evolution'What's been helpful: Like many of the other scientists SAND invites, Jude Currivan is an exceptionally articulate and engaging speaker who expertly intertwines recent discoveries from the physical sciences with ancient wisdoms. As I've written before, it's the sciences that reignited my own curiosity about the nature of consciousness so it's a delight to encounter (yet another!) teacher who speaks to the emerging alignment between scientific and spiritual models of reality. Though I can sense the message of interconnection various discoveries are revealing, I rely on these spiritually-aware scientists to turn my intuition into understanding by unpacking the specifics and Jude does so in a way that's both entertaining and informative. Jude's website hosts only a small amount of content but there are numerous YouTube interviews available, as well as her five books. Besides the video linked above, another of my favorites is this 25-min. presentation from SAND, Break Down or Break Through ~ enjoy!
Website, YouTube, Facebook
After studying with Bodhi Avasa, Shakti Caterina Maggi began helping others awaken to their true nature as One Consciousness in 2003 and currently offers retreats and meetings in Italy, Europe, and online. “The opportunity to meet what we are, and to embody it in everyday life, is the very meaning of life itself – not as human beings who seek God, but as the Divine itself experiencing itself through the human experience.” Shakti began to hold true satsang in 2011 and more recently, partnered with therapist Giusi Carrera to create seminars exploring non-duality in the world of therapy. Though based in Italy, Caterina also offers a number of teachings for English speaking audiences, which are found on her YouTube channel.
"When you firstly see what you are, Silence or Nothingness, this revelation appears as a window opening to the Reality of Being. When the window opens up you see to be this Silence in which everything appears. All is suddenly shown in its clarity: you see that you yourself are the background of Life itself and all that appears is an experience that is manifesting from and as your Being. When you firstly see what you are, Silence or Nothingness, this revelation appears as a window opening to the Reality of Being.When the window opens up you see to be this Silence in which everything appears. All is suddenly shown in its clarity: you see that you yourself are the background of Life itself and all that appears is an experience that is manifesting from and as your Being." --Shakti Caterina Maggi from her post Integrating Awakening and the Mind's PendulumWhat's been helpful: About all I know so far of Caterina's teaching is what I've seen in the few videos appearing recently on the SAND website after their 2017 conference in Italy - but that's been enough to make me a fan. She has such an open and loving way about her as she teaches, especially when taking questions from her audience. Though she's based in Italy, it looks like she's started offering more retreats stateside and I highly recommend all the videos (and articles) posted on SAND (and her website) to anyone in need of a little Italian-accented balm for the psyche. A few more of my favorites: The Crisis of Waking Up, Embodied Awakening and The Disappointment of Love and Love
Julie Brown Yau, Ph.D., SEP, is a certified NARM (NeuroAffective Relational Model) practitioner living in California. Julie has a diverse 30-year background in spiritual, psychological and somatic traditions which she combines with Eastern wisdoms and the latest neuroscientific and psychosomatic findings in her work with clients and groups. Julie provides support to the actively dying to awaken to the multilevel cosmos. She is also the director of education and program development at CCALS and lectures for hospitals, schools, and SAND audiences.
“Until recently, trauma was thought of as an occurrence from extraordinary events such as acts of terrorism, human rights violations, war, and so forth; yet trauma may occur from any event that overwhelms our capacity to cope, and leaves us unable to recover our sense of connectedness. Trauma is a normal part of life. Trauma often occurs in our early years when we are lacking the necessary resources to fully recover. Early trauma is the constellation that forms the limited self. This limited self continues to recreate itself throughout life, often hidden in the unconscious, until the trauma is resolved. Traumatic states have the power to throw us into deep despair, yet are also capable of radical transformation, in which compassion and expanded consciousness may emerge. --Julie Yau, from the SAND video 'Spiritual Dimension of Trauma'What's been helpful: With great compassion and clarity, Julie Yau helped to educate me about the nature of trauma. Not the trauma of the big events - bombings, natural disasters, wars - most of us imagine when we hear the word, but the trauma we all carry within our bodies. Julie teaches her audiences how this suffering originates, how we disassociate from it, how it gets stored in the body until it can be embraced and then finally, how to accept and heal from it. It was hearing the truth of her teaching that helped me discover another level of compassion for the difficult thoughts and emotions I was experiencing post-awakening.
Trauma, the Imaginal and Awakening - this video was my introduction to Julie's teachings and the first time I heard an explanation of how early trauma creates the separate sense of self. Julie shares a number of her insights on suffering in this video before illustrating her teachings through the inspiring story of a man experiencing the dying process. The SAND YouTube channel hosts additional videos featuring Julie's teaching.
Dorothy Hunt, a psychotherapist since 1967, is also an author, poet and a nondual spiritual teacher practicing at the request of Adyashanti. She is serving as the as Spiritual Director of Moon Mountain Sangha and also founded the San Francisco Center for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Dorothy has posted several articles and poems on the SAND website and also has a few videos available on their YouTube channel from previous conferences.
“How long have you been standing at the edge of the Unknown, wanting to realize or consciously embody what is true, but time and again distracting yourself? You may have had glimpses into your own timeless Presence. Yet, right at the edge of shifting identity, right at the edge of awakening more deeply, the mind keeps selling its wares, its fear of the unknown: “Don’t go any further.” “You’ll disappear.” “You will die, or if not, you will go crazy.” “You will not be able to function.“ And so you keep finding ways to postpone discovering or living more fully as What you truly are by remaining attached to the stories of what you are not.” --Dorothy Hunt, intro to the SAND video Standing at the Edge of the Unknown.What's been helpful: After awakening, I was relieved to find dozens of spiritual teachers and scientists available (via the web) to help make sense of the shift in my consciousness. But after a few months of instruction and practice, I recognized that in order to learn most deeply, all the teaching in the world would not be a substitute for making time to bring silent awareness to the unexamined conditioning accumulated by my egoic identity. But don't be fooled by how abstract I just made that sound; it's hard work. Emotionally hard. Physically stressful. Actually, it's neither of those things, not really. But the egoic conditioning pulls up the stories and emotions that make such examination feel difficult. And endless! The egoic self seems to have access to an inexhaustible energy supply; it's like being possessed by the voice of the Energizer bunny.
Right as I ran into my first really discouraging patch, a time when I was wondering if all the meditating and reading was ever going to produce lasting change in my psyche, I also ran into what I came to call 'comfort teachers'; women and men who had written or recorded a message of some kind that helped me deal with my discouragement. They acknowledged the emotional pains and offered warm words of encouragement. They heard my inner voice of failure and showed me I had already succeeded by having simply awoken. In short, they brought a few words of warm light into my self-imposed grey. Dorothy may have been the first such voice I encountered (on the SAND site, natch), though I don't recall if it was a video or one of her posts. I haven't yet read her books but her SAND contributions always seemed to show up right when I needed her warm virtual hug. Besides the video linked above, here are a few more of Dorothy's articles and poems: Longing and Seeking, Are You Available? and this post on 'living without a map', which contains wise words for those of us removing our 9-to-5 cultural conditioning, Living From Our Deepest Knowing.
After bookmarking the rich scientific and spiritual content I found on SAND, my search next brought me to a collection of films and books all having to do with ancient Egypt. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure how this happened; perhaps it had to do with running into Graham Hancock’s banned TED talk about exploring altered states of consciousness with psychotropic plants. Rarely does Graham discuss these topics without looping in a connection to his other passion, ancient wisdom traditions. And no wonder – as the films below show, some astonishing recent discoveries by Hancock, John Anthony West, Robert Bauval and Robert Schoch and others continue to add significant weight to their arguments that 1) the ancient Egyptian civilization began thousands of years earlier than previously thought, perhaps guided by an even older advanced civilization and 2) the Egyptian people had a far more advanced understanding of various technologies, sciences and spiritual philosophies than expected for a Bronze Age civilization, perhaps as an result of contact with this much older and more advanced civilization – or it’s survivors.
Pretty eyebrow raising stuff, eh?
After this post about the amazing form that is the human body, I felt like sharing this example of new computer-generated animations that accurately depict functions of the human cell at the molecular level. More of Drew Berry’s stunning work can be found on the WEHIMovie YouTube channel.