I died the other night … in a dream.
I was in a huge high-rise building where one floor after another fell on top of me. Layers and layers of heavy debris were suffocating me. And then – there was this peaceful silence where I was in complete darkness. Still in the dream, I thought I was alive (despite being buried under tons of cement) and I prayed that someone would rescue me. I then realized I was in no physical pain – but how could this be after so much had fallen on me. I simply was aware of the infinite space and felt a beautiful sense of calm.
I suddenly woke up with a huge feeling of relief that I had just had a dream. But at the same time I realized I had experienced a true awakening. I now knew what it felt like to have complete awareness without being able to see anything through my eyes. As well, the fear of being killed by the collapsing building had shocked me into the state of “no-mind” which some of the Eastern philosophies talk about. I had experienced the emptiness, the void, the eternal, infinite space that is inside every one of us.
So if Wendy (the physical body on Earth) was killed in the building collapse – then who was still aware of the infinite empty space. There were two of us – Wendy the human and the “I” that was aware. I now knew without a doubt that I was more than my physical body – I also had an infinite and eternal spiritual self that had been here all the time, waiting for me to remember.
Through my dream of the collapsing building – I had the direct experience of “awakening”. I was aware of the infinite awareness.
My dream reminded me of an experience that the well-known Indian mystic, Ramana Maharshi, had when he was sixteen. One day, he asked himself – “What is it that dies”? He dramatized the occurrence of death by holding his breath and keeping his lips and eyes tightly closed. While doing this, he said to him self – “this body is dead and it will be carried to the cremation ground and reduced to ashes”. But with the death of this body, am “I” dead? Is this body “I” or am “I” the formless spirit transcending the physical body. He concluded that his true Self was the eternal soul that would exist long after his current physical incarnation.
After reading Maharshi’s story years ago, I often tried holding my breath as long as I could in order to kill myself (i.e., during one of my major depressive periods). Although I never succeeded (obviously), I did have the remarkable experience of being the watcher/witness of my thoughts and, consequently, the feeling of “no-mind”.
Shortly after I had my dream, I was driven to write the following letter to my self (something I had never done before). This letter explains ways that my formless, eternal being will communicate with Wendy (my physical self) on an ongoing basis.
I am your higher power – the divine essence which you can connect to at all times. Simply quiet your mind by letting go of all thoughts and just listen. In the gap between two of your thoughts is where you will feel and sense me.
If you watch with full awareness – you will see signs. For example, I will send you the perfect person, experience, book, movie or song at the exact right time. Always remain open with a beginner’s mind. If your mind is too full of opinions and pre-conceived ideas, you will not be able to hear or sense me.
Connect to nature as much as possible. I am like the air you breathe – you can’t see me directly but I am everywhere. And always surround yourself with friends and family who uplift and inspire you.
Ever since my dream and the above letter to myself, I have been inspired to start each day with the following mantra. It has definitely brought huge peace and serenity to my life – maybe it is something for you to try.
“I am a spiritual being in a temporary human body”. “Let me be aware of my divine essence in every moment today so that I can reduce suffering and make this world a better place”.