Backwards and Forwards at Once: Death & Rebirth in 2018
Thank you. Can I go home now?
If I could just get out of this dense little meat suit, and uh, let’s see…the slipstream of subtle currents could take me back, the cosmic drain is never far you see, hmmm..oh yeah, it’s right over there, just unzip the zipper, pour what’s left of me down the channel, take this last breath and….whoosh! Just like that, step out of the skin…Three, Two, One….big exhale!
Blessed disintegration, holy dissolution, becoming less and less as the empty spaces in between grow more and more…and plunk! Back in the lap of Ma.
Golden effusive radiance.
“Yes, ma? Can I just come home now please? Pretty please?”
“No, baby” she tells me. “No, child, it’s not your time. You just take that pretty death wish to the apothecary, and the bitter herbs will meet your mortar’s pestle there and grind you up a brew. You are learning to die, my love, yes that’s the mission down here. Very good. But you must recall that on this planet you’ve got to do everything backwards and forwards, both ways at once. You gotta drink the death medicine, baby, in order to give birth.”
It’s not that I wanted to die in the way you might be thinking, in some kind of tragic or anguished tension. And it wasn’t a suicidal longing, either. No, it wasn’t violence I sought, but a sweet and expansive relief from the purgatory state I found myself in after giving up so much of who I used to be and not let taking shape as whoever I was becoming.
To tell you the truth, I spent a lot of this last year being idle. I laid on the couch a lot. I kept the rhythms of a retiree: early to rise, morning tea, check messages, putter around, meet a friend for lunch, walk the dogs at 6, read a book, settle in. Ok there was a little more grit than that, but not much really. This didn’t look like much on the outside, and I didn’t have very many glamorous updates to share on my lunch dates.
Over this last year I’ve been letting my garden go fallow. I found out that the old crop, which had yielded bumper harvest for me year after year, had developed a case of root rot.
The blight must have been there from the beginning, when I first got initiated into the tantra weave through a tainted spell by a beady-eyed magician who hadn’t yet planted his own roots deep in the soil, whose insatiable hunger sought to feast on my succulent blood. But the fruits from this ill-conceived garden were many, and they looked so bright and so real, that the decay remained unknown. It was only in the process of eating them, that I discovered they were indigestible, like hybrid clones that lack the sacred seal.
So I had to cut down my own orchard, had to weed out and turn under my own garden plot. I had been pruning and cutting in increments, thinking I might be able to save the lot.
I subsisted on canned beetroots and store-bought peaches in tins, mostly lifeless, but sufficient fare for this rather bland and ascetic time. Late in 2016, I invested for a brief time in hydroponics on an experiment, the kind that grow from the sky downward, without any roots. I took short refuge with a chain-smoking purveyor of non-dual Advaita philosophy, the kind of man that could take me to the Glory of God in an instant and then leave me dirty and alone in the street of my own human concerns.
“You are not this body,” he would say. “You are not these thoughts.”
Meanwhile, he drank thirstily from my cup and pretended not to be drinking. Just the like the beady-eyed magician guy had done before.
This was getting old.
Tens years ago tantra turned my world upside down. I don’t think I chose it exactly, but just picked up this lifetime where I had left off lifetimes past. That longing to go home that haunted me? That was the part of me that knows the tantric mechanism of dying to be born, the part of me who was forged in the practice of an oft-repeated ritual of imaging your body to be a corpse, burning, melting, and becoming ash.
And here, amid my fallow garden, upon the vacant dirt, I offer up my questions to Ma.
How can I let my voice be heard when what I want to talk most about is silence?
How can I give birth to another form in a world that is already bursting at its seams?
Is creation really for me, dear Ma? Or is it destruction that we need?
Sometimes the honeyed water is best offered from the hand of the one who rests in the stillness as the caravan rolls on.
A friend asks me to “explain your profession, badly.”
Ok, here goes: I tell people to think with their fingers and toes, to put their minds in their bellies and their guts, and to sit still and listen to every damn thing those lower antennae have to say, to listen with every cell. Most people cry then. Some shake and yell or have convulsions up and down the spine. Then we take this big, fat everything that they are feeling and I show them how to mix it in with empty nothing, and then we both sort of disappear. When we come back again, we don’t need anything anymore, because we already are everything. Then they pay me and leave.
You’d think that in doing this kind of witchcraft as my day job, I’d be getting better at dying and being born by now. And who knows? Maybe I am.
What’s the tarot card with the upside down guy? The Hanged Man? That was me in 2017, hung up in a self-imposed contemplation, a sacrifice for the sake of illumination.
2018 then, if it follows in the sequence, will bring the card of Death. Here in the topsy turvy earth plane where we must do everything forwards and backwards at once, Death is the omen of rebirth, the resurrection now that the change has come to pass.