By Eric Allen Bell
I went to the Emergency Room with severe pain in my stomach. While waiting for the results of the tests I was given Morphine and when that did not do the job I was given Dilaudid. I was in pain, a lot of it.
Eventually the doctor came in and said that I needed to go into surgery right away - immediately. My Appendix was extremely swollen and they needed to get it out before it burst. And then there was a period of waiting for the people from the surgery department to come and get me.
During that time I called my wife and told her what was happening. I reassured her that this happens to people all the time and that I was going to be okay. But when I said goodbye and hung up the phone I could not dismiss the overwhelming feeling I was having - the feeling that I could die.
My hands shook. I was really scared. My thoughts were racing and I tried to grab a hold of that thought that told me that the soul is eternal and that death was nothing to fear - but it was fleeting as life itself is fleeting. I alternated back and forth between thinking this was not a big deal and realizing that an organ in my body was like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode with potential serious ramifications.
My spiritual journey began when I was 14 years old. Now I was about to turn 42 in a few days. I had read countless spiritual books, knew all of the great religious traditions, sat with many gurus, attended spiritual retreats, seminars, gone to ashrams, participated in rituals, meditated for many years, knew how to chant in Sanskrit, had a personal spiritual mentor for the past 11 years and had even founded Global One TV - the online spiritual television network
that, in a short few months had already reached over a million people. And I was scared - scared to death of dying.
I was heavily medicated, surrounded by trained professional medical staff and had the knowledge that after all I was just going to have my Appendix removed - but I was still scared.
And in that moment of fear a sense of clarity washed over me. Not like a lighting bolt moment of revelation but rather a calm, cool, peaceful state of quiet awareness. I could see that it was not "me" who feared death but rather the body. This animal form that the consciousness was inhabiting, this human body that was always doomed from it's moment of conception, it feared death. The physical self was oriented around self preservation and it was natural that this aspect of the self fear its destruction.
And the ego mind - that is to say the self concept - it feared dissolution. Naturally the ego by its very nature did not want to give up control or cease to exist. And I realized that there was no sense in fighting these very natural impulses, these instincts. It was okay.
The body was sick but I was not. The body was fearful but I was not.
And by this I do not mean that I was indifferent. In my heart I also did not want to let go. I did not want to let go of the love relationships in my life. Life is so full of uncertainty and suffering that the only reason why any of us would really want to be here at the end of the day is that our love relationships pull us to be here. It is where we find meaning. The simple pursuit of pleasure alone is not enough, it never was and it never will be. Love is where life finds its meaning.
And so it was that this duality existed without being a problem. There was no need to reconcile any of it. The body feared death yet I was not afraid. This is what it means to be both human and Divine.
All of us emanate from Divine Source. Divine Source is infinite and thus so are we. The self of the flesh will perish but that which knows its true nature shall have everlasting life.
And this is the mystical truth that is hidden inside of every religion. To the Hindus "Atman is Brahman". That is to say that the self is God. And didn't even Jesus Christ himself cry out from the cross, "My God, my God why hast Thou forsaken me?"
We are flawed human beings with bodies that are eventually unsustainable. And yet that is only a fraction, a small sliver of what we truly are. We all emanate from Divine Source. We are expressions of Divine Source. Or as the Church of Religious Science puts it, "God in me, as me, is me".
Another way of saying this can be found at the very beginning of the book "A Course In Miracles" where it says that "Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists."
Experiencing fear is a natural part of the human experience. You are not less "spiritual" for having this emotion. Eventually death visits us all. Wanting to put that moment off for as long as possible is part of our love affair with life. Sometimes that affair is pure bliss, sometimes it is a seemingly endless lovers quarrel, sometimes we think we can't stand it any more and we want out, other times we simply cannot get enough. It is violent and beautiful and all of the shades in between.
Atman is Brahman. The nature of the physical self is a certain longing. The nature of the true Self is bliss. And no matter how many books you read or teachers you listen to, there is no way to truly know this until you experience it for yourself.
"We are stardust -
Billion-year-old carbon -
We are golden
Caught up in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden"
- Joni Mitchell
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By Eric Allen Bell