Death & Afterlife
I come to the end—I am still with you (Psalm 139:18)
We die as we have lived. If fragmented or integrated, unconscious or conscious, loving or harsh, so will be our experience of death and afterlife. Mystics and gnostics present all of our states—living, dreaming, dying, and afterlife—as arising from a single fabric of soul, mind, or consciousness: YHVH. Reality, like the soul in which it appears, is concentrically layered. The higher one ascends in their soul, the deeper they venture in nearness to the Holy One. While the experience of the body in physical, waking life is quite different from the body in astral dreamtime, they radiate from the same soul. In a greater ascent, the deeper dimensions of soul radiate far much more intense, transpersonal visions. Such are the higher states of "running and returning” from which prophets declared in the Name of YHVH. Yet the higher we rise, the deeper we go into God. All of these states of our soul are already present here, now, concealed by our physical life. At death, these same states are revealed as our afterlife.
Returning to God
To die consciously requires that we live consciously, in all transitions. With this view of our afterlife concealed in this present life, companions of our community pray and meditate deeply everyday. All of our spiritual practices with a divine personification culminate in dissolution: We visualize ourselves disappearing, as a rainbow in the sky. Whatever divine image we're communing with, whether the Risen Savior, Mother Mary, or Lady Mary, we see their image dissolving into us. With skill and experience, we reverse this in the transference our consciousness into that divine image. Not only does this bring us heart- to-heart and mind-to mind with the divine, it rehearses the dying process.
The same practice also sensitizes us to all transitions in our self and life. The more facility we have in dissolving negative energies inside or outside of us, the greater our capacity for gnosis of the resurrection. The more conscious and skilled we are with our own transitions, the more we can benefit souls in their transitions. Companions of our community practice this wholistic way to assist the dying and dead. They understand that dying is merely the return of the elements of consciousness to the Holy One. The essences of our parents who conceived us merge and return to the Holy One. Ours is the inmost nature of the Holy One. To know the Holy One as this life is to have never left the Holy One of eternal life.
The transmigration of souls—gilgulim—is how mystics and gnostics present biblical teachings on reincarnation in the Zohar. One rabbi in particular, Isaac Luria, taught a complex model of all aspects of the soul emanating from a divine spark which, in its ignorant experience of separation from God, fell into barriers or shells. By the process of consciously healing and reintegrating—tikkune—can the soul recognize its barriers and realize its origin in the Holy One. This work of tikkune requires lifetimes of helpful exchanges with sparks of other souls. Such is Isaac Luria's vision of souls reincarnating in their exchange of sparks with one another from generation to generation. In a forward, wave-like motion, sparks lost in barriers will be gathered and embodied.
This Jewish metaphysical model of reincarnating soul expands our understanding of souls who appear in the gospel. When the disciples ask Yeshua, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? (John 9:2), he doesn’t correct their assumption of reincarnation. Neither does he correct the people’s confusion whether John the Baptist is the reincarnation of Elijah: Yeshua clearly affirms, he is Elijah who is to come (Matthew 11:14). Our oral tradition teaches that sparks of the the soul of Mother Mary are rooted in the prophet Miriam, even Leah before her. The soul of the Magdalene is resonant with Rahab, and Rachel before her. We trace sparks of the soul of Yeshua to Elisha, Joshua, and Jacob before him. Such a Jewish panorama of gilgulim—the reincarnation of souls— presents a biblical view of our enlightenment as a grand, generational process of evolving with, in and from the Holy One.