How to Avoid Death

I was going to call this “How to Live Forever” but I chose “How to Avoid Death” because the idea for this article came when I heard Rush Limbaugh talking about an article titled “Test Helps You Predict Chances of Dying”. As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this test asks, “What are your chances of dying within four years?” It is based on data involving 11,701 Americans over 50 who took part in a national health survey in 1998. Researchers used 12 risk factors to predict when the participants will die. It turned out to be roughly 81 percent accurate and can give older people a reasonable idea of their survival chances. However, as the article indicates, “it (the test) isn’t foolproof”! By this they mean that this test isn’t perfectly accurate, particularly for younger people, and it doesn’t include family history. But this quote can comically imply that the test doesn’t help you avoid death. We’re all going to die. Or are we? I suggest that you can avoid death.

How can you avoid death? By having a particular realization. What’s a realization? It’s when you learn what’s, well, real! It is more than being aware of or accepting an idea. You’ve heard people say, “I don’t think, I know.” A realization is a knowing, a certainty. You absolutely know it to be true. For example, do you think you love your children or do you know it? Do you feel that being honest is the right way to behave or do you know it? Do you guess that it’s good to be kind to others or do you know it to be true?

So what’s the realization you need to have to avoid death? As I discussed in my articles “The Meaning of Life: Rise and Shine” and “What’s the Meaning of Life, A Response, Part 1”, it’s that you have a part of you that is eternal, divine and immortal. This part of you was created in God’s image; in other words it is the God immanent, as opposed to the God transcendent. We refer to this divinity by many names including the higher self, real self, true self, soul, Christ consciousness, Buddha consciousness and spirit. This self is distinct from your “human” self, which is the combination of your physical, emotional and mental bodies. The aggregate of these bodies is who we think we are. However these bodies are temporary and finite. Because we primarily identify with this lower self we suffer, are confused, undisciplined, depressed, and incompetent and fear death.

But to complete the realization, and truly avoid death, we need to understand that we don’t have a soul, we are the soul, who uses the lower bodies to express its divinity in this world. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), a Jesuit priest said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Of course your lower self will die, but this divinity within you, your real self, lives on.

One way to truly “get” this realization is to contemplate the following exercise as adapted from "Active Meditation" by Robert Leichtman and Carl Japikse, the best book about meditation on the market. They refer to it as the detachment drill and it’s a way of detaching from your attachment to your lower self (the personality) and realigning yourself with the more subtle realms of life and your higher self (the soul). It is used primarily as a prelude to meditation. Find a quite spot and take a few moments to review the following in your mind as you sit in a relaxed position.

Detachment Drill

I have a physical body, but am something greater than the physical body. The body is important to me – it allows me to act in the physical world and be productive. The body can be tired or rested, sick or healthy, but I am able to observe these changes in the physical body – and even direct them. My higher self, the real me, is greater than the conditions of the physical body. It is the source of vitality within me.

I have emotions, but am something greater than my feelings and emotions. The emotions are important to me – they help me express goodwill and interact with others. They can be sad or happy, selfish or cooperative, but I am able to observe these changes in my emotions– and discipline them. My higher self, the real me, is greater than the state of my emotions. It is the source of love and benevolence within me.

I have a mind, but am something greater than my thoughts and memories. The mind is important to me – it enables me to make sense of life and express my talent and wisdom. The thoughts are sometimes destructive, sometimes constructive, but I am able to observe the changes in my thoughts– and guide them. My higher self, the real me, is greater than my thoughts. It is the source of wisdom and intelligence within me.

I have a personal will, but am something greater than this will. The will is important to me – it gives me motivation and intention. My intentions are sometimes defensive, sometimes purposeful, but I am able to observe the changes in my will – and use the will wisely. My higher self, the real me, is stronger than my personal will. It is the source of divine intention within me, and thus the true source of my personal authority.

My life also brings me many experiences, which allow me to learn and grow and serve. Sometimes I overreact to my experiences, and let them control me; at other times, I control them. But I am able to observe these experiences, see their value, and use them profitably. My higher self, the real me, is greater than my experiences.

Who am I? I am not my body, nor my emotions, my mind, my personal will or my experiences, although I do have these things and they are valuable. I am the higher self, a center of pure love, wisdom and power.

This is my true identity.

As you contemplate this over time you will realize that you are this divine self, who uses the physical, emotional and mental vehicles for a relatively short period, they eventually die out, but the real you lives on. In this sense you’ve learned to “avoid death”.

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