by Steven J. Mcauliffe
‘Life is the childhood of our immortality’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It seems clear to me that the greatest stumbling block to us achieving our wondrous potentiality is the continuously reinforced notion of the second law of thermodynamics – a universal theory which states and I quote:
-Everything ultimately falls apart and disintegrates over time. Material things are not eternal. Everything appears to change eventually and chaos increases. Everything ages and wears out. Even death is a manifestation of this law.
Which is quite interesting as the theory of evolution basically states the opposite, that over eons of time, billions of things are supposed to have developed upward, becoming more orderly and complex. –But I digress.
We are constantly reminded that everything dies: all becomes ash carried upon the air, and whilst this is evidently true within the physical realm, what if the true essence of us, that which the scientists cannot quantify or dissect – i.e. the human soul – is in fact immortal? Imagine if we were to truly understand this, how would the control-system cope with a planet full of self-aware immortals? Answer: It couldn’t, it would collapse (which being a materialist creation would make sense, given the 2nd law of thermodynamics – ha!)
There is an old Muslim saying: ‘When death approaches it is terrible. When it reaches you it is bliss’.
And indeed, I remember an old documentary on a South London hospice in which one of the nurses told of how on numerous occasions, at the very moment of death they had noticed a look of what could only be described as divine ecstasy pass across the face of the patient.
So what if that very thing we fear: that ever-present if seldom acknowledged dark shadow with the scythe is in fact an indicator of a great and wondrous liberation from the shackles of the physical realm – to a state of being in which the only limits to our worlds are the limits imposed by our own minds?
Would that not indicate that this, here and now is merely the training ground for our eternal souls to follow? And then, could not Death itself, as exemplified by the Grim Reaper, whilst often depicted as a terrifying apparition, be in fact something else entirely: Perhaps the Great Liberator? Joseph Campbell explained, in reference to Shiva, how appearances can indeed be deceptive:
‘Shiva’s dance is the universe. In his hair is a skull and a new moon, death and rebirth at the same moment, the moment of becoming. In one hand he has a little drum that goes tick-tick-tick. That is the drum of time, the tick of time which shuts out the knowledge of eternity. We are enclosed in time. But in Shiva’s opposite hand there is a flame which burns away the veil of time and opens our minds to eternity’.
-‘The tick of time which shuts out the knowledge of eternity’ – wow! -The tyranny of the clock; the artifice of time which enslaves us all. In short, he is talking of this material realm through which most of us pass through as little more than sleepwalkers. –Or maybe even automatons. As described so brilliantly by T S Eliot in The Waste Land:
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
Ah, that final line: the dead sound on the final stroke of nine – there’s that tick of time again!
Joseph Campbell (yes, him again) described the meaning of the Waste Land, and its message for humanity far better than I could ever hope to when he told Bill Moyers:
“The theme of the Grail romance is that the land, the country, the whole territory of concern has been laid waste. It is called a wasteland. And what is the nature of the wasteland? It is a land where everybody is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing as you’re told, with no courage for your own life. That is the wasteland. And that is what T. S. Eliot meant in his poem The Wasteland”.
The people Eliot describes in these lines are all asleep, and, yes, sure these automatons gazing at their shoes (or I-Pads or Blackberries – whatever) are still there, we see them every day – but let’s be honest, they are never going to awaken, they don’t want to – who knows, maybe they’ve not reached that part of their own particular cycle yet. But something incredible is happening now: just think of this site you’re looking at now, a meeting-place for like-minded souls by like-minded-souls, offering the opportunity for us to communicate our own personal awakenings; communities of awakened and awakening souls. It’s pretty incredible, is it not?
Sometimes there is a natural impatience with the world, and the oft-heard refrain: ‘But what can I do?’
The answer is: ‘Stay awake’. For, after all, isn’t that all that really matters?
For once you have awoken to your own immortality; the perceived world begins to dissipate anyway. So why change an illusion? Our own transformations have a transformative effect upon the world. Our awakening is a rebirth, and through our own particular rebirths, the world is reborn too.
Tick-tick-tick…the tick of time, the final strike of nine – it’s all an illusion.