Friday, December 31, 2010

Whatever Happened to Witnessing

black stone
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
With the egoic sense of self, the more we know, the less innocent we feel.
But, to our true nature, the more we know, the more innocent we feel.
I call this feeling innocence… because it has a sense of being very unguarded…

In innocence, there is no idea about what’s going on…When I say it doesn’t know what’s going on, I mean it’s not relating to experience through thought… it may seem a nice place to visit, but it’s a terrifying place to hang out because it takes all the tools of the egoic state of consciousness and renders them useless… the mind is actually not very comfortable staying there because it is non-operational while it’s there.

We see that we are not who we thought we were, and the world is not what we thought it was. Everything is new and open… For example, if you are sitting in your chair and you have a certain sensation arise in your body that your mind would immediately label fear, the innocence wouldn’t know that…

Innocence just looks with curiosity and asks, “What is it?” And it draws the sensation very close. It discovers what that sensation is through the experience rather than through the idea.
Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

I found these words this morning, after the fact, after deciding that I wanted to give an update on my complaint to Adya, last fall, that I felt as if I had become stuck as the witness.
So, here’s an update and how it relates to the fear and intense emotions I mentioned in my last blog.
The other day, I was at work when I abruptly stopped because I felt very strange and wondered what was happening. I just stood in the middle of the lab kind of looking this way and that totally perplexed and very ill at ease.
After a bit, I realized that in the past when I complained of witnessing, it was because my eyes looking out at the world saw (felt) that nothing was “Real.”
I didn’t (don’t) particularly enjoy this sense of unreality, of watching, of witnessing from some distant, privileged state of REALness.

The strangeness that now stopped me in my tracks was the noticing that my body and all its contents, that sense of center, were no more real than that “unreal” world I had experienced during witnessing.
I looked down at my torso. I looked out into the room. The two now seemed a seamless continuity of the Unreal.
I looked back at my torso and probed inside for my thoughts and feeling; again, there was seamless continuity - no difference between the inside and the outside of my body.
Suddenly, there was nothing of true substance, truly real.
This was not good news!
In fact, my discomfort seemed the central perception. I was Very uncomfortable, bubblings and turmoil in the body, something intensely physical was happening, but what?

Mind did not want to look too closely.
It felt as if I moved a muscle of mentality, of individual will, intention, or analysis the total strangeness of the situation would explode into total Chaos.
A thought came, “Do not do a thing.”
So, I allowed mind, emotions to simply hang there. My body I directed back to the small work-tasks at hand.
Eventually, another thought arose, “Jesus, the witness just collapsed!”
I let that thought go also.

Oddly, I discovered foretastes of this discomfort and process while viewing some “post literate asemic art.”
Now, the art seems the perfect illustration and I have to wonder about their power as mandalas.
I hope you take a click. The glyphs and dreamwork by John Ryan and Tony Burhouse and earlier December posts seemed to explode within my body. I had to leave immediately.
About a month ago, “The Systematic-Reductive-Dismantling” of Peter Ciccariello felt marvelously compelling: That’s it and I wanted to share.

Which brings me back around to the intensity of feelings I’ve been experiencing and Sarojini’s comment about barriers and collapse of a separate self, or witness:
…without any barriers in place (namely, the sense of a separate self) …these [emotional] energies are free to go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds.

Before that experience of the collapse of the witness, I decided that my emotional situation of late is more like a baby’s. Babies are happy until the instant they are not happy. Then they cry – 100%, all out. And then, it passes and it’s gone. There’s a clean slate. This is the innocence of babies’ emotions – no barriers. At first, I labeled this as learning “impulse control.” We call it “maturing” or “growing up.” That’s when I also realized you could also call it conditioning and that it coincides with acquiring a sense of self.

There is no need for an emotional barrier or the feeling of separation… The only reason you ever thought that you needed protection was because of a very innocent misunderstanding… when you were given a concept of yourself in very early childhood, you also received a kit with which to build walls that would protect this concept…This is very innocent. It happens without your knowing that it’s happening. It continues until you realize that inherent in this holding of “me” as a self-image in the mind and body is the belief that you need protection… When you drop your protection, the truth comes in and takes away the self-image.
Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

And you can also freakout a bit.
If you’d like to hear this collapse of self from another perspective, there’s a new interview with Sarojini on Buddha at the Gas Pump. She describes the severing of a cord connecting awareness and the body. (See discussion beginning around minute 17:45.)

Happy New Year! New You. No You.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dissolving: Ego and Personality

Sleeping Buddha
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
You will feel emotion like you have never felt before. There is now a quiet, steady center that is constantly present; however, when an emotion comes along, its energetic depth will surprise you. You will realize that without any barriers in place (namely, the sense of a separate self) that these energies are free to go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds.

I spent a good deal of Christmas Day gripped by fear and grief. Oddly, they weren’t at all in my mind. I can’t say why there was fear or why there was grief. Though there had been fleeting thoughts. The emotions seemed totally and intensely physical.
So, in a sense, I was fine. I curled up in bed and read. Outside, a winter storm arrived delivering a white Christmas.

Everything was fine, and still – my gosh!
Since Christmas, I’ve been experiencing intense fear. It grips my belly like broken glass. It stabs and breaks my heart. It electrifies my body.
It seems like there are no barriers anymore and the emotions just rip through.
What barriers were there to drop? I didn’t even notice. I’ll accept Sarojini’s explanation, “a sense of a separate self.”

Last night driving home from work once again I approached (ha! at the intersection of La Vista and Druid Hills, oh what a metaphorical stage)… I approached the question, “Who am I?”
As a response, in the midst of evening traffic and emotional blowout complete with streaming tears the words, “I cannot say!” seemed a desperate, desperate reply.
The inability to say, really bothered me – “me” which seems to have disappeared despite my driving the car, putting in an eight hour workday, and pitching emotional fits.

Even this morning, finding words is just too frustrating and physically painful.
So, I found some nice quotes I want to share.
Yesterday, I went back to the beginning with my books. The operative word was emptiness – there is a lot of that these days. So, I picked up Emptiness Dancing, by Adyashanti:

If my identity can take a break and I don’t disappear, “What am I then?” or rather, “What am I when I do disappear?”…

It has been said many times that the only people who don’t know who they are, are the ones who are awake. Everyone else knows… they are their script…
There is a state in which the mind says, “I have no idea who I am,” because it can’t find the right script. Awakening is the realization that happens after the mind says, “I give up. I just have no idea who I am.”
Emptiness Dancing p.11

Have I given up? I DON’T KNOW that either! There’s an awful lot of thrashing around that seems to counteract the claim. … which makes me laugh out loud.
I’ve been doing a lot of that these days too, bursting out in laughter.

I also have been wondering about the distinction between ego and personality.
People say that after awakening you still have a personality. How’s that differ from having an ego? Here is Eckhart Tolle’s take:

Ego is complete identification with your thinking and your emotions. When you are unconscious, personality and ego are one thing. As you awaken, you become more aware of your patterns, which may to some extent still operate…

As you awaken spiritually, the awareness that is nothing to do with your personality increases, and the power of the personality, with its conditioned patterns, decreases. Gradually, the personality is no longer opaque; it is transparent to the light of awareness, or consciousness. It loses its solidity. This is why you find that in people who are awake, or people who are awakening, there is more of a lightness to them…

Strictly speaking, before awakening, to a large extent, you don’t have a relationship with your personality; you are your personality.
If you can have a relationship with your personality – which is the ego, with its way of reacting and thinking, and emotions – who is having a relationship with the personality?

What that means is you are witnessing it. There is a witnessing consciousness there, and if there is a witnessing consciousness, then you can have a relationship with your personality.
What that really means is, you can be there as a witnessing presence when your ego is doing something silly. And you can laugh at yourself…

Thus endeth the lesson regarding ego, personality and laughter.
There is one more just for now, and that’s regarding fear, the heart, and emptiness. This comes from a fellow by the name Davidya:

In the first awakening, the mental idea of being a separate self, often called the ego, falls away. In the second cycle, the ‘crust’ on the heart falls away and it blossoms. In the second waking, the core identity falls away.
The core identity is the driver of the emotions/energy that in turn drives and sustains the ego-mind’s concepts and shadow story, it’s beliefs about the world. Because one arises from the other, they have a similar modus operandi and similar way of falling away. For example, the ego falls away when we become Self, but much of it’s supporting structure of related constructs often remains, trying to resurrect itself. I’ve referred to this as “ego shrapnel”. Adyashanti talks about minds attempts to return…

This increasing openness to what is, coupled with clearing of the old stories and dramas means the clouds start to really clear. What has been deeply sub-conscious, the core identity begins to be sensed, then seen. This is a purely fear based grip, holding the sense of separateness. Holding us from Oneness. As the core identity is seen and allowed, it falls away. Then the peripheral grips are seen and cleared, much as the ego shrapnel before, but more subtle and loud. (laughs) These are things like a deep need to know or to control or be seen or complete. While quiet, they often have had a profound impact on our life. They are often our core motivators to act, think, and feel. The clearing feels like one is being emptied out but what remains is fullness.

“Emptied out” –that’s what it feels like. All those emotions are just in this heatless burning away. It feels real correct to absolutely do nothing. Don’t try to find a word. Words are too inaccurate. Words can only distort. To insist, to do anything to impinge about what is happening only hurts. Physically, intensely hurts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What is the Grass: Part One

blue leaf's revelation
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones…
Walt Whitman, A Child said, What is the Grass.

A friend has been encouraging me to inquire into the nature of my true self.
I am having difficulty with this task that she says is not that hard:
simply look and see.
But, it feels like racing a truck down a railroad track – bone jarring.
However, my friend will not let up and has no patience for a whiner.

So the other morning in the tub I was reflecting once again upon the question, “Who am I?”
I noticed that once again my immediate response was, “I don’t know.”
But then, as always, I wondered if perhaps that’s just a knee jerk.
Are those words really mine?
Or are they just the reflex of a spiritually indoctrinated mind.

So, I asked again, “Who am I?”
This time, new words came and they made all the difference in the world.
I heard quite clearly, “I cannot say.”

When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that is wisdom.
When I look outside and see that I am everything, that is love.

Ah, he couldn’t seem to settle either.
And, I wonder if it’s even necessary to decide; “I am this” or “I am that.”
I will be Whatever I Am with or without an answer chatting in my brain.
… though, I probably will suffer if I haven’t really seen…
if I really do not know.

Sometimes, I am amazed by an emptiness.
Emptiness started within me and spread to encompass what is outside. I’m surprised to discover that it feels very different from nothingness.
Sometimes I feel as if I am no-one. Who am I? - nobody.
Nothingness feels more akin to no-self, emptiness more like an empty glass.

Sometimes there is Silence and that certainly seems like something: an ocean that can drown you. Silence stunningly loud arises out of nowhere with the slightest provocation. A fly pings into the lamp shade and suddenly: The Ocean of Unbounded Silence is Here.
My friend says Silence is no-self. I can see the logic, but, I cannot say, “I’m That.”
Nor do I appear to be the Nothingness, the Emptiness, the Silence.  I can be a nobody.  And what's amazing is it changes nothing!  Life does not require that I be here.  Body, mind, talking, work activity carry on just fine. (Which is not to say it isn't a bit freaky.)

Sometimes, I notice what has always been: simple awareness, the screen of consciousness which allows a mind to be conscious of all the this and thats.
Yes. That is who I am, from the moment I was born: that non-changing consciousness, pure awakeness, a awakfulness that remains even in deep sleep.
I cannot call this no-self; I have to call it Self.

I seem a What more than a Who.
And sometimes I lose direct experience.
And sometimes, I do not care if I cannot say.

Somehow in the midst of all this reverie, I came across Walt Whitman.
He seems quite comfortable with not answering the “WHO” directly.
He pours his Self into Creation and ends his poem about the grass with these stunning words:

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

What is the Grass: Part Two

Awakening is instantaneous. Clarity takes place in space-time.
Attributed to Jean Klein

I had lunch last Sunday with two old friends from my TM teaching days. I’d not seen either in almost thirty years, though I have been chatting with one fellow this past year via email.
But, this was the first time we’d sat together sharing warm food and physical presence.

It was not just a coming home to my youth, but also to my spiritual roots; a thirty year check-in regarding what we had learned? And, what had become of our hopes?
Mark has taken Buddhist vows. Graham is a yoga instructor. And still we seek.

I asked them to look within and tell me the answer to; “Who are you?”
We all experienced the simple awareness that is the screen for all the play of Life.
However, no one would claim awakening or enlightenment (the word we’d set our hearts on).

Each had a reason for denial: Mark still freaked about money. Graham, dear Graham so gentle and smooth, spoke of insomnia.
And I got totally confused.

Yes, it seems I have found my true Self… but there is also sometimes a “no-self.”
Self is a fullness that experiences.
So, what is this experience of “no-self?

There is no one there: No one to have a thought, No one to feel the emotion.
That seems to be the answer Inquiry seeks.
And I just don’t see how that could ultimately be as I obviously have a self and not a no-self.

“What is no-self?” I felt quite desperate, knotted up, holding my head.
Mark said, “No small-self.”
Well, DUH! I knew that!
“No-self” extinguishes small-self. It was as if something untwisted in my psyche, as if belief and assumptions exists physically. And then like some rubber band, the twist wants to reassert itself and immediately confusion returns.

I take small-self as something small and illusory… like a tree, or a truck.
Illusory trees and trucks make much sense to me. I experience them as illusory, not really real.
And too, I respect their solidity. I’ve live with this paradox each day for years.
Now more lately, small-self seems like the trucks: merely a ghost, but a ghost that’s still in play.
Personal identity remains. Call out, “Patty!” and I turn around.

The next day, I came across these words:
Feeling myself as somebody experiencing Truth, that changed into I am That.
So there was no longer somebody experiencing Truth…. Before that moment there was still a separation… a going into freedom and then back into experience of personality. Like they were two separate experiences… [after that] it was simultaneous.
Kranti Ananta, interview around minute 50.

These words rang a bell with me. “Somebody experiencing Truth… still a separation.”
Yes! I am waiting for the epiphany in which, “I am That,” tolls out.
Well, I read it in a book. I heard it in a video. I have this belief that that is what happens.
And then, you are awake.
(I’m smiling. Are you?)

The me-story is like a fan going. You can turn off the switch and it takes a while to slow down. When this slowed down I stopped allowing my energy going into the me-story… Now that’s automatic… The me-story is “swoosh!”… but the triggers can still happen, the body gets like kind of a hit and feels fear, or whatever can be there, and the body knows this is the moment to meet what wants to be free.
Kranti Ananta, interview around minute 55.

Now these words reminded me very much of what Adyashanti said regarding what it’s like to be awake:

A thought can come that can cause an instant of grasping, that can cause a momentary experience of a certain separateness… when it does happen, the gap between it happening and the seeing through it is very small… at a certain point, the gap between the arising of a sticky thought and its disappearance becomes so narrow that the arising and disappearing is almost simultaneous.
Adya interview with Tami Simon

Coincidentally, as I looked for the above quote, I also came across these words which took me by complete surprise. Strangely, I had remembered the above words and apparently forgotten these from the very same interview:

Awakening is not experiencing vast, infinite space, feeling spacious or expanded or blissful or whatever. These feelings may be by-products of awakening…
Awakening … is a change of perspective.
Everything we thought was real is seen to not be real at all; it’s more like a dream that’s happening within the infinite expanse of emptiness.
What is actually real is the infinite expanse of emptiness.

Oh well, there you go. (laughing) That seems really straight forward. This is the story of the illusory trucks.

One final thought. A friend sent me this link to Shinzen Young, with the simple explanation, “Saw this and thought of you.”
At the time, a couple days before my Sunday brunch, I thought it excellent and beautiful, really not much help… except, it kind of grew on me.

Song of the Evening

And so at times we talk, and I pretend to take your struggles seriously, just as I pretended to take my own seriously… we really shouldn’t forget that we are pretending… we are making up the little dramas of our lives.
We are making up whether we need to hold on or surrender or figure it out or pray to God or be purified or have karma cleansed—it’s all a thought.
Adyashanti, It All Comes back to Nothing

I was just pulling into my driveway last night after work when this came on the radio.
Seems the PERFECT celebration of the me-story! And I just broke into laughter, two hands on the steering wheel singing along: Dup doo bee wahhhh.

You know the me-story?
That’s where you actually believe the drama and the suffering.
Except songs like this reveal that deep down… you know that that’s not really true.

But, then again, why not strut it across the stage?
If you really know, then the song and dance become the Play and Display.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


When I walk the streets and see the faces of people, I am seeing the faces of all the friends I have ever had. All of the history I have ever had with one person, is a history I share with all human beings. Every face is beauty of the deepest intimacy…

Every thing about them is held out like a timeline, and it is all known in an instant. I feel that I could walk up to any of them, put my hand on their face, and feel all the love I have ever known for any human, to the core of every being.
Takuin Minamoto

Last Saturday, I went to the funeral of a man I had never met, the husband of a friend I see only infrequently and then mostly we shut our eyes and meditate. I knew Donald was an artist, a sculptor. And I knew he and Brenda had fought his cancer for a long time. But, from the moment I stepped towards the chapel I fell into discovery.
“Oh, Donald was black!” … I hadn’t even known him skin deep.
He was 80, a Guyanese expatriate, father, grandfather, uncle, story teller, life-long friend, teacher, and connoisseur of the stupid.

I read his poetry and was blown open:

What is there at the heart of the land?
What is there at the kernal of the nut
inside the buried bones of all those devils we know
the angels we wished to have known
the lines of muddy canals we didn’t swim in
river-water pelting down from the backdam…

What a man to find now that he is gone!
“Why is it my friends and I seem to share our families only at funerals?”
“Why do we wait until it is too late?” This was the thought that brought the tears.

On the drive home, the words above of Takuin came to mind.
Last week I had been trying to remember, trying to figure out why they seemed so familiar. Now, I began to see.

They say that Awakening is remembering, remembering who we really are.
They say that Unity is seeing oneself in all of Creation.
But, I wonder how does that Unity actually feel? What is the experience? What is it like to actually live that consciousness?

Scott Kiloby says, “Oneness. Is that like spreading butter over a piece of toast?” He rejects this “sameness” and goes on to point out that a whole body has arms and legs - all these little details.
Adya switched the word from Oneness to “intimacy” and something clicked with me.
Yes, that makes more sense.

It is intimacy that Takuin speaks of with such depth.
And I remember now, there are those times when suddenly I see a mere acquaintance with such intimacy. As if with new eyes, instantly and effortlessly, I know them as a child. I see them as adult. I see them deeply and with such seeing love immediately arises.

Remembering that, knowing that such intimacy is possible and that usually I miss it, tore my heart wide open at the funeral of the man I never knew.
My God! WAKE UP! … well…

Turns out, Donald Locke loved the opera.
Acknowledging this love his family played the duet from Act One of Bizet's “Pearl Fishers,” two men singing of their friendship.
The music says it all, without a single word needing interpretation.
We all know this.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Song of the Day, indeed.

All are mere words, of what use are they to you? You are entangled in the web of verbal definitions and formulations. Go beyond your concepts and ideas; in the silence of desire and thought the truth is found.

I regularly drop by Takuin Minamoto’s website for a bit of beauty. He keeps things simple and his words often hit like poetry. They resonate deeply, but I cannot always explain just how.
It is enough simply to be brought to tears.
I have faith the rest will take care of itself.

So this morning early, I spun the dial at Life Beyond the Image and found this entry entitled: Energy, Ghosts, and Life After Death.
It felt germane.

… it is not so odd to feel these sensations as you go about your day, although it is probably infrequent. But they are not ghosts, at least not in the way we think of that term….

When I walk the streets and see the faces of people, I am seeing the faces of all the friends I have ever had. All of the history I have ever had with one person, is a history I share with all human beings. Every face is beauty of the deepest intimacy.

When I see them, I know their entire history. Every thing about them is held out like a timeline, and it is all known in an instant. I feel that I could walk up to any of them, put my hand on their face, and feel all the love I have ever known for any human, to the core of every being. (Of course, we don’t go putting our hands on people’s faces…it is just not that kind of society.)
Takuin Minamoto

There is something so familiar here, something behind or within these words that seems to rip my heart open and send tears down my cheek.
Something in me knows, says “Yes.”
And yet I cannot articulate just what it is I know; what I have forgotten.

I was mulling all this over as I drove to work.
How to pass these words, this sweet little blossom from Takuin, along?
And then on the radio, there came this song,
perfect, perfect antithesis rounding out another whole:

I was laughing.  I was humming.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sometimes We Need a Story

Jumping into the bathwater
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
Medical journals educate physicians with statistical information and are not interested in stories about unexpected remissions and recovery.
Yet stories can change beliefs and beliefs affect us at the cellular level.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, Close to the Bone, chapter 7: sometimes we need a story.

Emotions are not in the head. There’s a cellular consciousness. There’s a wisdom in every cell. Every single cell has receptors on it. The emotional energy comes first, and then peptides are released all over…. Consciousness precedes matter. It’s not like a peptide creates the feeling. The feeling creates the peptide, on some level.
Candace Pert, in Close to the Bone

There is no such thing as false hope.
Michael Lerner, in Close to the Bone

Mary and I met with Evie the evening before she was to start her next go round of chemo. It was our prelude to what Evie had called the atomic bomb of chemo and the stem cell transplant.

The day before I had sent around a story I’d found about a fellow, Bob Ellal, who had undergone two stem cell transplants and been given by his doctor one chance in 20,000 of it working. Well, he’s been cancer free for more than 12 years now. And he has a nice concise list of what to do. We’ve been doing most of this, but it was good to just see it written out so plainly, and he included one point we haven’t articulated real clearly:

Find someone in your life—besides yourself—to live for. This may seem like a strange statement—isn’t it enough to want to survive? You will find that after large doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation you will sometimes be so sick that you will feel like quitting. That’s the time to remember that other people need you to survive.

I liked this particularly.
As it turned out, many of us had gotten a boost from Bob Ellal’s story, and so we were gathering to meditate already feeling some momentum of “being ready.”  Still, Evie spoke of how she'd turned inside.  She didn't know if it was hiding like retreating to a cave, but she knew it brought a piece.
It seemed to me she was giving her own words for going into her soul, her higher self.
As a closing exercise we decided that Eve would try getting in touch with an animal form or what my Taoist teacher calls “the lower higher self.”
Eve thought for a moment, saying she wasn’t sure what that animal would be. She liked the butterfly. The turtle had come up with the tumor they’d removed, but more recently she was coming across the bear as healing energy.

“Oh,” I said. “You don’t choose the animal. They come to you and take ahold.”
With that we did bows and began.

Afterwards, I asked, “Who came?” She said – the snake.
We had a good laugh over that.
I had really hoped for a mammal of some sort, something strong and furry. Or a power-bird with warrior feathers – that would be just fine.
But a snake? Eewww!

Then, I recalled Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Goddess in Everywoman, a book I had loved back in the ‘80s. It was there I first learned of women and snakes. When women come into their power they tend to have a lot of dreams about snakes:
The image of the snake is one of the major symbols that you might be drawn to. It may show up in a dream about transformation and transition.

The next day I went on a search to see what exactly Dr. Bolen said about snakes. I discovered she had written a new book, Close to the Bone: Life Threatening Illness as a Journey of the Soul.
I have ordered it from Amazon, but wanted to share some of her words today:

Whenever or however that line from health to illness is crossed, we enter the realm of soul...
We lose an innocence, we know vulnerability, we are no longer who we were before this event, and we will never be the same.

A life threatening illness calls to the soul, taps into spiritual resources, and can be an initiation into the soul realm for the patient and for anyone else who is touched by the mystery that accompanies the possibility of death.

Once we take soul seriously, a whole different premise opens up.
If we have a soul--and this is one of the innate beliefs that human beings do have--then we are spiritual beings on a human path rather than human beings who may or may not be on a spiritual path.

The journey of spiritual beings on a human path holds major questions that have to do with the big picture at each major transition fork in the road.
What did I come to do?
What did I come to learn?
Who did I come to love?

… and How long do they need me to love them?
These are good questions for all of us.
The answers will be the stories we need.
The answers will reveal how truly blessed we are.