Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Not Buying In to "Decline"

Here on earth we have physical bodies, and physical bodies have a beginning, a middle, and an end. When we're young, we work hard to learn to use our bodies and minds to their fullest. Then we reach some level of competence or near-mastery, which we call our prime. After that, those of us who live long enough will begin a physical (and to varying degrees, mental) decline. That's all normal and to be expected, but it comes with many issues and emotions.

The funny thing about all this is how we (especially Westerners) tend to get fooled by part three of this process. We know very well that struggling toddlers will grow up to be competent adults, but when competent adults transition into struggling old folks, we sometimes forget who they were, and still are underneath the illusion of disability and aging bodies.

I recently learned this the hard way. My mother had been ill for several years, and during that time I watched her transition from being the mom I always knew and loved, to being the seemingly occasional inhabitant of a very sick, very frail, and very much disabled body. Because this happened over time, and not all at once, I adjusted to the changes as they came and gradually lost sight of the very alive, very vibrant person my mother had always been. Even though I never stopped loving her or respecting her, I bought into the idea that she had become a sick person who couldn't speak or think clearly. I forgot that a soul---especially a very bright soul like my mom's---could never get sick and fade away.

Within a day or two of her passing, I started feeling my vibrant mother's presence around me again. She presented as her younger, more beautiful self, but with even more uniqueness and specialness than I had attributed to her in this lifetime. I sensed not only the loving mom I had known, but a spectacular soul with great power and purpose beyond anything I had previously recognized.

At first I was saddened by having bought into her "decline," but then I realized that my misconception had gone even deeper. I had bought into the illusion that this glorious soul had just been my kind and gentle mother. She had always been there, ever in service to others and myself, so I never stopped to consider who she really was. It had never occurred to me that her body and personality and strengths and weaknesses were not who she really was.

Now that I felt her true, pure nature around me, I could see more clearly how the "veil" really works. If we had full access to our own and everyone else's greatness and beauty, we wouldn't have to work so hard, and we wouldn't learn so much. We'd never get hurt or angry or feel regret. If reality was all laid out for us, we'd just savor every moment with ourselves and our loved ones---and with every being we came in contact with. It would be a totally different experience.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me and loving me so perfectly even after you were gone from this earth. I promise to try harder to remember my own greatness and that of every person I come in contact with. I won't always succeed, but I will endeavor to not buy into the idea that anyone could truly be poor or sick or unintelligent or unkind. I will try to glimpse the greatness of the soul behind every mask. Thank you for that and so much more.