Who Will You Be In Your Last Moments?

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 Who will you be in your last moments?  Sounds to me like a fun sort of question to ask during this festive season. (Christmas time, 2012) Surely you know people who'd be happy to engage the question - who wouldn't freak out to hear it.  

 After dancing and singing around the Christmas tree, you could pose the question, just to provide a light touch to the gathering: 'What state will your soul be in during your final moments?'  

 You could ask all of your merry-making relatives and friends, as they drop everything to listen to you: 'Will you, as the end draws near, be able to say - it is well with my soul in spite of everything, or might it be that on your way out, you'll be as you are presently, that is, incognizant of soul, trapped, as it were, in your ego and restless mind?' A lively discussion is likely to ensue.  

 One way or the other, as in the above picture, you'll make plain to those around you, prior to your disappearance from the planet, the truth of the statement above that, "in their last moments, people show you what they truly are."   

 One's last days and finally, last moments, are a revelation of the life that's been lived. 

 I, for one, have this hope that what will be seen in me on my death-bed is that, even as possible suffering and pain is endured, it will be discerned that my heart/soul is full of a deep yearning for God. 

 I hope that the clearest thing about me in such a vulnerable place is my love for God. But more than that, because I'm weak, a sense of God's love. I would like to be meditating on St Paul's statement that 'He loved me and gave Himself for me.' I would like to make my exit focusing on the love of Christ.

 I once read the soul within described as the energy of light and love. The essence of the human being is the energy of light and love. I would like to be reduced and deflated so thoroughly that all that is left of me is such a sense of soul. I would like everything to drop off until all that's left is a heart of love.  

 Maybe that's too much to hope for. But I've tasted that level of glory. I've also tasted what it takes to get there, through the process of what I call the 'great deflation' or the 'great shattering.'

 It's likely that I'll be receiving deflation after deflation on my way out - shattered and shattered again until all that remains is that energy of light and love. 

 The 'great deflation,' by the way, is when you hear the sweet sound of the air hissing as your ego is flattened out in order for the energy of soul to make its appearance.

 Which is the point of spiritual practices - to enable that blessed collapse of the ego and of its partner, the restless, protesting mind. 

 The point of the spiritual practices is to remove the obstacles, to clear the way, so that the grand inflation, eruption, expansion, or emancipation of the soul can occur.  

 My heart responds to people who discern this dimension of soul. Virginia Satir, was such a being. Satir was a gifted family therapist, whose way was that of a seer, that is, someone who had the ability to behold the inner core of the people she encountered. She could sense the shining light of spirit in everyone she met. And she had the ability to make contact with that essence. 

 I watched videos recently of Virginia in action, making contact with people - her speciality - connecting with them at the level of soul.   

 When asked about her approach to people she responded: "The question for me was never whether people had spirits but how I could contact them. That is what I set out to do. My means of making contact was my own congruent communcation and the modelling that went with it."  Which is to say that she was able to discern soul in others to the degree that she was in contact with her own.  

 She continues: "It was as though I saw through the inner core of each being, seeing the shining light of the spirit trapped in a thick black cylinder of limitation and self-rejection. My effort was to enable the person to see what I saw; then together, we could turn the dark cylinder into a large, lighted screen and build new possibilities."

"I consider," says Virginia Satir, "the first step in any change is to contact the spirit. Then together we can clear the way to release the energy for going toward health."   

 In an interview an observation was made about her: "You make very special contact with everybody. The impact you have on individuals when first meeting them is very noticeable." She was being asked: 'How do you do that?'

 Virginia responded: "Let me see if I can answer it like this. Remember that I see the individual's internal essence. That's what I am connecting with. The most important thing about a human being is their worth and respecting that. That is paramount. I couldn't think about moving with anybody unless I had gone through that step of respecting and validating the person at his or her level of essence." (Banmen, Gerber and Gomori, The Satir Model, Family, Therapy and Beyond  p. 254)  

 For Virginia Satir, the essence of a human being is "a hidden potential that seeks to be realized in existence." (Bonnie K. Lee, Congruence in Satir's Model: Its Spiritual and Religious Significance" p. 11 of 22) In Virginia's thinking, the essence of our being has an irrepressible urge to shine through.  Allowing that emergence is what gives to any of us a sense of meaningfulness!

 I was reading about Alfred Hitchcock in his last moments  A Jesuit priest had been called in to celebrate a Mass. The priest walked into a room where across from him were the bound volumes of the movie scripts, "The Birds,"  "Psycho," "North by Northwest." Says the priest: "Hitchcock had been away from the church for some time, and he answered the responses in Latin the old way. But the most remarkable sight was that after receiving communion, he silently cried, tears rolling down his cheeks." (Mark Henninger, Alfred Hitchcock's Surprise Ending, the Wall Street Journal, Dec. 6, 2012)  

 In receiving communion, Hitchcock lost his ego and realized his spiritual nature. Maybe that internal event could have, or should have happened, earlier in his life. But at least it happened.  

 If it's true that people "in their last moments people show you who they truly are," Hitchcock, in his last moments was showing that it mattered to him to put his life in a right relationship with God. His heart opened and the tears flowed.

 Thus Alfred Hitchock's last moments were well used ones. The priest reflects that "some people find these late-in-life turns to religion suspect, a sign of weakness or of one's "losing it." 

"But," he points out, "nothing focuses the mind as much as death. I suspect that in facing death one may at last see soberly what is finally worth one's attention."  

My sense is to say 'why wait for the death-bed?' to finally see soberly what is worth one's attention now? What about 'these moments?' Are they soulful or being wasted away? What is happening in these moments? 

 Another instance of discovery on this level of soul is that of the early experience of the Siddha Master, Gurumayi, who wrote that there had been a time in her life when she defined it through the meaning she got from looking into a thousand mirrors.

 She looked at all these mirrors and thought: 'In this mirror, I am this. In that mirror, I am that. In yet another mirror, something else.  (my paraphrasing) So many reflections, a thousand of them, to define one's identity. The result of looking everywhere is to end up nowhere, to be living with a fragmented identity.

"I watched," she said, "the myriad reflections of feelings, thoughts and actions.

 But then she says that, 'grace struck her life' and one by one, each of the mirrors was shattered to pieces.  

 Grace continued to strike until only one mirror remained. It was that mirror in which she saw a separate, autonomous, being, who was trying to cling to the delusion that she could make her own way and didn't need God. 

 She tried to hold on for dear life, but the destructive power of grace took her down: "My whole being wept. My senses abandoned me. My world crumbled." 

 The great deflation, the great shattering, was happening because of the grace of God.  

 She describes the grace of God as a deep penetration. She says in protest:   "People say grace is a shelter. Why then am I losing all I have?"  

Gurumayi's sense was that she had "become the prey of grace." 

And then, "the sword of light shone brilliantly and this, the strongest mirror exploded as well."

 The result? "Not a trace remained of that non-existent life.” 

 Finally: 'All that remained was my love for God.'  (Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, A Thousand Mirrors, Darshan #75, 1993,p. 30 ff) 

 I began by asking the question: 'Who will you be in your last moments?' My own preference is presently to be deflated and reduced to possessing a heart of love as my deepest identity. I'd prefer not to be, as death approaches, a whining, whimpering, complaining, protesting ego/mind.  

 Thus may the grace of God continue its work of destruction, removing the obstacles to realization, whatever it takes.  

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Audio: Pie Jesu, Aled Jones