Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Death of a Loved One

 Sometimes we’re forced to stop and view the world from a whole new perspective, taking us even deeper in our experience of life than we ever experienced before.  A sudden and unexpected death of a loved one wipes away all the pettiness we are concerned with during ordinary life.

January 9 is the birthday of my wife for 23 years—until karma pulled us in different directions—and the mother of our 3 amazing children, Jnani, Shane, and Sara—our 18-year-old daughter.  A few days earlier, however, this woman many of you knew as Kanti, and some of you knew as Nadine Kennedy, left her body and this world after a long battle with illness.

Kanti and I remained close friends all the way to the end.  I know she was concerned about the children being without her, and would they have everything that they needed.  Her entire life was about the well-being of our children, and she was a very loving and caring mother.  The great thing now is the many exceptional qualities she passed to our children simply through being such an excellent example.

I think everyone in our family quietly assumed I would one day be the first to go, and the mother would be around for quite a while longer to be her usual responsible self, taking care of all the necessary details.  So it adds to the shock of her passing that she was the first to go. 

And I ask myself, can I, at 68, have the strength and the wisdom to be the only living parent for our children?  They are the best children anyone could hope for, and I pray that the best I have to give them is enough.  Kay has always been a wonderful step-mother, as she has known them all their lives, and she has always been part of our family anyway.  I know that together we will make sure the children always have a strong sense of family and home—which they are more and more developing among themselves as young adults.  I know they will always enjoy a blissful life, even amongst the many karmic challenges we all face from time to time.

I wanted to post this on January 9 in honor of Kanti and all that she gave the world.  She helped many people over the years, and was always the effervescent light—which is the literal meaning of her name.  For all of us who knew her, she will live on in our hearts.

I would like to share some Q&A exchanges that have come in:

 “Sometimes when we're hurting or—and maybe especially—when we see someone suffering, it is very hard to think of it all as a game.  Part of the pain of compassion comes from the very recognition of what I see ‘out there’”

Compassion is primarily developed through experiencing the poignancy of life, whether our own or another's or others'.  For example, the recent death of my children’s mother is extremely poignant.  My children are great people.  Logically, they don’t deserve anything like this.  Yet it is their karma.  Though coming into harmony with the poignancy, great compassion is developed that will make them even greater people throughout their lifetimes.

Someone sent me this great quote:  "Grief and sorrow are natural at certain tragic moments in life.  We need to find ways to pass it through the heart as we learn to accept and live with what has happened.  The heart must be allowed to breathe whatever feelings arise in it from loss.  Anger, fear and grief are natural companions to loss.  However we also have to be careful not to cling to them or the pain.  If we brood too long we risk the heart freezing in time, shutting down and turning to debilitating despair.  In time sorrow will become compassion, acceptance and forgiveness.  And, we become more empathetic to the suffering of others." ~Devi Ma

When we understand the poignancy of life in ourselves, then it is much easier to understand and empathize with anyone's pain or suffering on any level.  And it is very good to see it all as the poignancy of life.  It is the best perspective and the highest understanding.  Otherwise the suffering inherent in this world makes no sense.

Someone sent me this message:  Your most recent message (on Facebook) about Kanti's passing brought tears to my eyes.  It would be so easy to sublimate one's complicated feelings of loss and grief within a context of philosophy and beliefs, but you have given expression to those feelings of grief which have validity and a right to be expressed.  I love the words you have chosen to express your courage and determination to steer your children through their course of life.  I lost my husband in an accident 6 months ago.  My parental duty has been uppermost in my mind amidst the shock and the grief.  I admire your vow.  I am sure you are taking comfort in the outpouring of love from all those around you.

My wife Kay looked at Kanti’s previous lesson and her current lesson.  In her previous lesson it was written:  “Any one of us who reads this could be nearing the conclusion of this particular incarnation, so if you read something here like ‘we’ll explore this more deeply later in the Course,’ please know that when your time comes for the Grand Transition and you leave behind the earthly limitations, you will have already received everything from the Course that you could ever need.  Remember, the lessons correspond to exactly what you need at the time.  When the time for the transition comes from this world to the next, you will be more than ready, and will understand and flow with what is actually happening, well-prepared to make the best of the adjustment.”

And her most current lesson during the time of her passing said:  “To onlookers in the physical realm it appears as though ‘death’ has occurred.  In reality, however, no one has ever yet died.  There was merely a transition from the physical, as seen by physical eyes, to the subtle, unseen by physical eyes.  The body then returns to the elements of the Earth, from which it was formed and of which it was composed.  As we meditate on formlessness, we begin to expand.  If we are not contained (thus limited) by the form of this body, we expand endlessly.  When the balloon pops, what happens to the air?  Does it die?  No, it simply merges into the air all around it.  It goes from being limited to being Infinite.  In the same way, if the attention goes beyond the limited form of this body, we merge into the same Consciousness that pervades and permeates the entire Universe.  Yet it is all right here, right now.”

If the ONE is everything, then "who" is purifying the ego?  Is not the ego an aspect of the Self?  The Self constricts into the ego though remains the Self - no?  I was raised Catholic and we're always reminded we come into this world with "Original Sin."  Is this the same as karma?  I would love your wisdom on this please.”

This is a very great question. It shows you are doing true contemplation.

You are right, 'The Self constricts into the ego though remains the Self.'  There is nothing at all except the one Self.  However, the Self, being innately playful—like puppies, kittens, and young children before they are made serious by society—plays a game with Itself, which is to forget Itself and to think of itself as all these particular individuals.

So there is actually no one to either have an ego or to purify the ego.  It all simply happens in the game the Self plays for its own enjoyment.

The Self forgets Itself for the pure joy of remembering the Truth once again.

Karma is NOT the same as 'Original Sin.'  There is no such thing as 'original sin.'  The only sin is the consciousness of sin.  We come into this world with Original Purity or Original Divinity, which is soon hypnotized by the world around it, causing us to forget our true and eternally changeless Nature.  And the Game goes on.

"The challenge I face is truly seeing & understanding what is to be learned."

Usually what is needed to be learned is right in front of us.  It could be very subtle, or it could stick out like a sore thumb.  It cannot be figured out by the mind, but it is intuitively obvious whenever the knowledge is needed.  The mind cannot come up with a solution, but if we open up to what is needed, it will arise as an insight from within.

I suggest you stop defining your life as being stuck in an unhappy work situation. From your comments, it is obvious that you are only make half-hearted efforts, if that, toward being positive and seeing your life with an uplifting vision.  As it is, you are simply allowing your habitual negative thoughts to take over, without even realizing what is happening.  And then you are no longer in control of your life.  You habitually recreate unhappy work situations.  Please remember that your vision of the world and your life determines your experience of the world and your life.  We think vision follows the fact, but the truth is that our vision creates the fact.

Describe your life and your prospective future in much more positive and lighthearted ways, and you will be amazed at how everything else changes as well.

“I have recently come upon your blog while browsing the web.  I find I can't stop myself reading your posts!  I am a little confused on exactly what your course goal is?  What exactly do people that go through the course achieve from it?  Is it to get in touch with ones spirituality?  I have always been interested in as you put it 'spiritual evolution'.  In a strange way I feel this is something I have really been looking for.”

This is wonderful.  There is a true opening and readiness.  The reason it feels you can't 'stop yourself' from reading the posts is because of the spiritual energy they transmit to the reader.  This is why there are people who have taken various versions of the Course since the 70's.  They've read so many lessons for so many years, yet still they are excited to get their next new lesson.  It is because of the Energy in them, which is quite palpable.

The goal of the Course is to live in the Truth of the Present Moment.  Most people have memories of their past leading up to the previous moment, and then they conveniently skip over the present moment and go right into projecting what the future will hold.  Living with the attention focused in the past and the future, we miss out on our actual life, which is always taking place in the present moment, and ONLY in the present moment.

Once we get somewhat established in the present moment, the next step is to be established in the TRUTH of the present moment.  We can be in the present moment and focused on our backache or headache, or on any of many emotions we are vulnerable to, such as worry, fear, anxiety, agitation, and so forth.  We can also be in the present while being obsessed with some thought, or some structure or patterns of thought that we can give meaning to.  All these things are temporary and passing show.  They are relative truths, but not the absolute Truth.

The TRUTH of the present moment is always the Same, and does not fluctuate or change in any way.  It is an exalted state of well-being.  Some people refer to the same experience as Love. There is no real difference between Love and Truth.

All you have to do is read two 10-page lessons a month, and apply the principles presented in your own daily life to whatever degree is possible.  With practice, more and more is possible.

In the process of the Course you will come in contact with your own true Self, which lives within you as Subjective Consciousness.  Through the lessons we come to understand and experience the Truth of that state, and learn to live in the state of the Self, which is very blissful.

Yes, it is something you have been looking for, whether you realize it or not.  Everyone looks for it sooner or later, and often we don't even realize that we're looking until what we are looking for is actually found.

My wife Kay, who helps me produce the lessons, has already sent you Lesson 1 and some info about the Course, and you will receive Lesson 2 in a couple of weeks.  Anyone interested in the Course can receive the first month as an introduction to the Course simply by stating their interest in it.
Thank you for your refreshing questions and attitude.  My guess is that you will indeed find the lessons to be just what you are looking for.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and the first month of the Course, write to

The Course is also available in Spanish and French.

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