Realize you are now dead. Keep moving on. Don’t look back. Do not fear.

We Are Already Dead
Paul Bahder, MD

In Tibet during funeral ceremonies the monks recite verses from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and keep reassuring the person that passed on saying, “You are now dead. Keep moving on and don’t look back. Realization of this truth is your awakening into reality.” While traditionally this book is read to a dying person, in the spiritual circles it is used as a guide for the living. Spiritual adepts look at the book’s instruction as manual for transition of consciousness from the life in time and space, our physical sense of life, to the spiritual realm of the eternal.

What we call “our life” is really the experience that takes place in time and space. The ever-changing character of our physical experience has led the Buddha to formulate the Law of Impermanence and Jesus to say, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The underlying commonality between these pointers to truth is the realization that the physical experience of being alive is temporary, changing and in a deeper way not the ground reality of what is. It is the realization that behind this world of appearances there exists a realm, a context that is changeless, not limited by time or space.

When we are fixated and bound by the impermanent flow of experience we are in fact unaware of the changeless context of consciousness. The relentless passing of what we see, hear, taste, touch, smell, of what we imagine or think means that we are already possessed by time and dead to the timeless. It means that time, the condition of passing on and ending everything without an exception is really the realm of death – the end of what we know.

We are in fact already dead and it is only our unresolved issues that keep us attached to the world of images and sounds that we know. Our family, the places we know, the settings that have served as the background to the story of our life – these are the emotional attachment points keeping us in the past and preventing us from recognizing that this past is in fact already GONE. We are already dead to the past. The past is no longer here. It is gone as we know it. It exists only as reflections in our mind bringing up emotional content and drawing us into the dream we call “our life.”



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