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~ Thomas Johnson - Medland

Sit in your cell, and concentrate your intellect; remember the day of death,

visualize the dying of your body,

reflect on this calamity,

experience the pain,

reject the vanity of this world,

its compromises and crazes, so that you may continue in the way of stillness.

-Evagrios the Solitaire

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The idea of remembering our death is all but gone from modern society. The Early Church Fathers from the desert made it clear that this is an appropriate practice-even necessary for salvation.

It helps us gain a larger perspective and it opens us to the Transcendent One.

There is something about the death experience that helps us find our salvation; to find our true freedom. I have worked with dying patients every day for the past three and a half years. I would have to say people get freer the closer to death they come. They let go of all of the self-image, pride, and illusion they carry around with them on a daily basis. They drop the ego and hide no more. They open to their Higher Self.

This raw and naked Self that is disclosed at the end of life is something we should be all the time. This is our trueSelf.

In actuality, we are this true Self all of the time, but our limited ego-selves forgets its deeper and true nature. The ego hides behind the illusion of its own existence.

It is not that the ego is unimportant. It is there to 'keep us alive as separate beings. We are meant to build


AT THe eND Of' llf'E' 15


All THe TIME'. THIS 15 OUR TRUE' Self'.

our ego in childhood that we may find out what is necessary to keep this individual body alive and safe.

The ego is a lens. It is a starting place for identity. But the end of the ego is not itself. The ego must be kept alive so it can experience beyond its limited


The ego must progress beyond its own limits to experience Unity. The ego exists to experience more










WilL BE' f'RE'E'.

than itself, to experience itself and everything outside of itself.

First, the ego learns to experience the mother. And then the family. Then it reaches beyond itself to encompass social groups of other egos. Finally, with grace and good fortune it is enabled to go beyond all of this and experience the very Ground of Being which it contains and which contains it.

As people approach their final dissolution, they have the tendency to drop the ego and its baggage, and let go of everything that stands between the m and the experience of the Eternal, the Divine, and the UnCreate.

I believe this is why the dying can see angels and gods, or travel out of body, or talk to dead family members. This is also why the holy ones (saints and masters) can bilocate, bring healing, know our inner thoughts.

Both people-the dying and saints-have let go of everything that stands between them and the Divine. Both have dropped the ego. They become more than just an organ of perception, they become the perceived, the

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perceiver, and the act of perception.

This of course rrrearis they are eInpty of everything but the Divine. A rnajo r t ra n sfo r mat io n has taken place in their body. They have been Transfigured. Theosis (Divinization) has taken over their members and they have become one with the One.

If we remember the words ofJ esus, we know that death is important on the Royal Road. If we are to be like Hirn, at some point we need to become dead men. He called hUInanity to die to the ego and follow the Self.

1 have watched countless people heal old wounds with family members, and then die into the arms of





some invisible being that has COIne for them. I have held the hands of dozens of people that have told me this world rnearis nothing to th ern , and then they tell me their dead parents are here for them-or some other relative. T have heard too many people say, "The Kingdom of God is all around me. They are here to take me now." I know that people that let go see the world from a different place. People that drop their Iirnited notion of themselves open to a grander notion.

I have also read the words of the "holy ones." 1 have heard the accounts. The saints and masters see another world all around them. They participate in this other world because they do not hold on to this one. They see things none of us see because they are not busy clutching.

It is dying to our ego that enhances these dreamlike visions, emot io nal and mental clarity, and simple abiding trust in the Divine Light. Whether it is the hospice patient or the desert ascetic, it is the letting go of all that we see around us that sets us free. Dying to everything produces new life.

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This text, modeled after the Hindu song to the self (small "s", therefore the ego), is sung in order to remind the ego of death, and its need to die. Not just physical death, but the death that comes from recognizing "my liInited ego is not the center."

It is sung to remind the small self that there is nothing it can hold onto that can free it from the inevitability of death, nothing but the Divine Self. It is sung to remirid the ego that its existence is forand in-a larger purpose.

"Thanatos" means death. "Shwara" means

aph or isms , sayings about the Way. These sayings to the ego about death-or the way of death-are meant to awaken in us the ability to let go of all that we clutch. When we let go we will awaken; awakened, we will be free.

The two words COIne from two different languages. One is Greek, the other Indian. Both of these languages give testimony to these ideas. Both languages have produced highly developed teachings and beliefs on the inner way.

I have tried to blend t h ern .

In the song, I address myself by my church title"Father." I do this because the ego loves to hold on to things that make it feel secure. The ego loves to believe it must not die. The ego loves the illusions it has spun. In attacking myself in Iny title, I attack my ego at its very best, at its strongest rno st creative place.

Listen to the song and sing along with it. Make the words your own, and the words may transform the ego into the Self. For, when we let go of the ego it becomes the Self. When we let go of the mask, we become what we have been all along-Divine. "When we die, then we live.

In reality, the ego does not even exist. It has been created out of nothing and it can dissolve back into nothing. Mind is All, and mirid can create or dissolve.

The Self is all.

Let us let go and be free.

Let us die and be transformed. Amen. Light and Life.




o Father,

what do you think will save you in the end? You are headed to the ground, to the grave like the rest. What will stop that?

o Father,

it is not your title that will save you. Those who praise you with it now, will spit on you with this sarn.e title in only ten rrri rrutes. They too are headed to the grave.

o Father,

it is not your rnj rrd that will save you. In the end your rn.i n d will betray you-like your body does-and you will not even r-e me mber- the things that have happened to you in this thing you call "your life."

o Father,

your body will drool, and shit will COIIle out of your backside without you wanting it to-without your control. Your hand will not be able to find your IIlOUth with the food it holds. Will your body save you then?

o Father,

do you not r-e mernbe r what your beloved so clearly taught. He said, "When you are young you will go here and there, wherever you like, but when you are old they will lead you around by your belt. " When you age, they will take you where they want. You will have no say. So, if you think this one who goes where it wants is the real you, then you have m issed the point.

o Father,

has He been so long aIIlong you, and you have not understood HiIIl. It is the Pearl in the shell, it is the Treasure hidden in the field, it is the Valuable Coin that is lost. These are what we look for. These are all within. Like the Prodigal we IIlUSt return to our senses and discover our true Birthright.

Ernb race your true Self; e your riches.

o Father,

use all of your faculties-while they work as well as they do-to uncover your true Self. Do not be a stranger to your Self. Know who it is that exists behind these faculties. Who is it that knows what you know; who is the true seer.

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o Father,

you know that there is little difference between you and that pile of garbage; between you and that COIIlpost heap. Perhaps fifty years. Then you will

be co me the sarrre as it. Discover what it is that makes you different. Find the sma Il difference that is as large as the COSIIlOS.

o Father,

what is to b of all those things that you want? You think that it is you that craves the food, or it is you that wants to stand on Athos (the Holy Mountain in Greece), or it is you that longs to love your family.

You are the one that watches the wants. The mind wants, the body wants, the heart wants, and the soul wants.

It is you that watches and knows about all of these wants. Do not be fooled. All of these organs want because they believe they will beco me whole and cornp lete in gaining what they long for. They are always craving, always hungry. You are already

co mp l ete without any of these things. Hunger to know THAT.

o Father,

do not think that you can wait until later to obtain the Pearl that is hidden in your heart. Do not think that you can put it off until you retire, or until you have SOIIle tj rn e off.

Do not be fooled. What if today your heart should explode? What if when you retire all you can do is drool and stare? What if today your life is required of you? What good will your waiting do?

o Father,

look now. Take every opportunity to turn within. Find the Treasure hidden in the field of your own heart. Place your rnj.rrd in your heart and roam there. Place your heart in your soul and let go of all earthly cares. Dig there, in the soul, until you unearth dispassion. Unearth apatheia. That is who you are.

You are the one that is attached to no-thing. You are pure freedoIIl.

o Father,

how many times will you pray the prayer to "lay aside all earthly cares" and still hold tightly to those cares? Let them go. Freedom dances in your True Identity. Without clutching, be who you have been from all Eternity.

o Father,

daily you see the effects of decay and erosion. The rains corne and carry clod after clod of dirt away. Stones shift and hills slide away. Can you not see the changes on your own hill-on your own body?

Life for this body washes away day by day, hour by hour. How will you find the core of the Divine within you if you do not look.

Some day the dirt of this hill-the body-will all be washed away; and the core of your life-your divinity-will be exposed. If you do not recognize its effulgence it will terrify you and become for you a hell.

Dig today and become acquainted with your source. In this way you will be comforted and at peace when you face your fullness at the end. Visit this Divine One daily and discover its beauty. For, this is your All in All.

o Father,

you have seen it all before. People who profess with their mouths to know God and to not fear death, crumble as they lose all their material acclaim.

When money becomes unimportant, and it becomes clear that experience and people cannot change their truest identity, people become afraid. Terror and horror visit their face as they are left with the prospects of looking at their own pure essence.

You should look at it now, negligent one, look on it and see who you are. So, at the hour of death you will not be afraid of who you really are. This fear could hurl you into hell. This fear could burn you up.

Look behind all the veils of illusion in this life and see the LIGHT behind the curtain. The

LIGHT is the only One who can change anything. That LI GHT is who you are. Don't be fooled by the curtains. But, you must learn to find peace and comfort in seeing the LIGHT or you shall look on it and die.

Learn to look on the LIGHT and find love. For, love is the measure of all things. Fear is the true enemy. For love is not able to be in the same space as fear. If fear is present throughout your soul, allow love to melt it and take its place. Perfect love casts out all fear.

Go to the LIGHT and make it your friend. You must be the one to make the move toward loving; you must be the one to make the ascent toward friendship.

Mter all, the LIGHT has made you and corne to live in you. Light waits for your response. Don't be such a fool and ignore the Light anymore.

o Father,

death is not new to you. Mourning is not unknown. You have watered your grief-seeds all your life.

Every desire you have had; for wealth and for salvation; for peace and for stability; for good and for ill; for this and for that has co me up from within you and the quenching of these has not been able to quench the unquenchable yearning of the soul. Nothing brings you satisfaction.

You are always mourning. You are always feeling incomplete.

o Father,

can you not see that your yearning is your completeness. Hungering and thirsting is the end. Longing is salvation. Your desiring is the Thing.

It is not the object of the desiring that is the All in All, but it is the desiring itself. Your hunger for God is the Kingdom, it is the pearl.

Mourn and groan, 0 my soul. This is the true song of your life.

Meditation Pathways 2001


o Father,

day by day you hold the hands of rrrerr and wo rrreri who are leaving this place. Their bodies are dying and inglorious. Never forget you are on the sarrre path. This is your journey as well.

Do not neglect the breath you have. Use each

rno me nt to be present with God and fully aware and conscious of life. For, this awareness is why we were created.

Be aware of what and who you are and be grateful. Gratitude is our calling. Be thankful, foolish one.

o Father,

See those dying people. Can you not smeIl the death that co rrres out of their mouths. The dying give off the smefl of rotting-before they have even died.

photograph by Father Tom Johnson-Medland

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You do the sarrre, Your deeds are rro and festering and- stink like ensuing death. Turn to the Lily of the Valley and: repent of your mrsdeeds. Allow the Joyful One within you to cleanse you and rrrake you fresh. Without this One who can bring Life, there is no hope for any of us.

Turn away froIn your own dissolution and beco me scented with the Aro ma of the Divine. Only this Scent can destroy your putrid odor.

o Father,

What a lovely house you have. The furniture is so fine as well. The things that are yours are beautiful. But, who shall take them when you are gone? Or, who shall you leave them too when you die?

Whether they take th.ern , or you leave tlae m to th.ern, there will COIne a when all of the ~ings you felt were yours becorne sorneo ne else's.

Who owns these things then? Is it you? Is it th e m ? How can you think anything belongs to you when you know for sure it will all pass through your fingers.

You will say these things are yours for now and then later they will beco me theirs. But, who owns the now and then you speak of? Do you have control of when the now becornes the then?

No, Father, you have control of nothing. This and that, they are not yours. Now and then, they are not yours. Give tb.ern up now before they are taken from you. Realize now what will eventually be a reality. You own nothing.

o Father,

And what of this body? Do you not at least possess this? Is this not yours?

Surely, because it is yours, you can rnake the hairs grow Inore quickly. Surely you can stop the cancer fr-orn spreading. Mter all, it is your body.

No, fool, you can not cause even this body to do anything you desire it to. Oh, yes, you can walk to the store, you say. Well r-erne mber-, to rrroz-r-ow you Inay not even be able to get out of bed because those legs are frozen stiff or have becorne swollen.

Don't think for a rndrrute you own even the body.

o Father,

You have seen how when Inen and wo rrre rr lay dying, they go into a space that rnakes the m mad, They go into a place that rnakes th.ern crazy with reality. They beco me drunk on the nectar of true experience and they say the most profound things.

They enter into the essence of their lives and they speak froIn within the LIGHT. Startling truths pour out of th.ern like wine.

When you have heard their words, you have been

du mbfou nded. When you have seen this change you have dropped open your jaw. They sound like a changed person, or just so rrreo rre else. You can not believe the change that has COIne over the m.

This change is within. They have lost their tighthanded grip, and for a IrlOment they have been graced to become their true selves.

They have lost all control and tasted of unbridled existence. They have turned around, to find the face of God staring them in the face. They have given up their limited ego lives and bcco me the COSInos. They have gone mad on Divinity.

And oh, how sweet the rOOIn becomes. When they drop into themselves, all around th e m becomes sacred. The air becomes Holy. They have made you laugh-to know that it can happen that quickly. They have pulled you into the place of the vanishing star.

So, why do you wait? Dive into that pool. It is before you all the t i rrre, Drink all the waters of the Self and learn to say ludicrous things. That's how the Divine is. The Divine is mad. The LIGHT is truly rnad,

Just today, you spoke with a woman about the uselessness of holding on to life. You shared how her body was falling away. She was yellow and cold and days Fro m death. She fought you over and over again, denying the crushing grip of disease.

As you rn.oved her useless legs for her, she proclaimed how, "If I could just get the use of my legs back. Why, I would .... I would .... " You looked her deep in the eyes and asked, "You would what ... ?"

And then it happened. She reeled her personality in through her eyes and glazed over. She stared off into

space and her skeletal figure softened. And, fr-o m that place in the center of where she lay dying, she bleated out words more true than she has ever spoken before in your presence. "I have to let go of them. We are not meant to stay here."

And, for the briefest moment you saw stillness on her face. Terror, fear, and rur-mo i l Left her, and she was in the space of the 0 NE.

Don't be a fool. Go there now. While strength is coursing through your decaying body, pierce the veil and ravish the Stranger who is hiding. Why should you fear becoming mad, when the only ones who make any sense are the crazy people?

Why fear being drunk, when the only sober ones are the drunkards?

Stop drinking the wines of matter that can only arouse this drunkenness for a short while. Leave off with ethics, and philosophy, and methods. Don't pretend any longer that the iInage is the reality. These other things, they are shadows, they are children's toys.

Go to the source. Slurp up the bowl of nectar within. Drink it all. Then you can throw the bowl from the roof, and shower the village with gales of deep, divine madness. Then you can know, "We are not meant to stay here."

The only thing that Li rnj.ts you is yourself. Cut the ropes and escape into the bliss of expanded reality. Let the ship drift off. Cut her moorings. Pull anchor. The deep calls unto deep.

Stop pointing to the horizon and telling your imagined tales. Get out there where the storm is. It is all YOU.


Meditation Pathways 2001