Dying before we die

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

Week Forty-seven
Death and Resurrection

Dying Before We Die
Thursday, November 22, 2018
Thanksgiving in the United States

In one way or another, almost all religions say that you must die before you die, and then you will know what dying means—and what it does not mean! Your usual viewing platform is utterly inadequate to see what is real. It is largely useless to talk about the very ground of your being, your True Self, or your deepest soul until you have made real contact with these at least once. That demands dying to the old viewing platform of the mental ego and the false self. There is just no way around that. If you do make contact, you forever know that something is there that can be talked about, relied upon, and deeply trusted. You move from religion as mere belief to religion as a new kind of knowing.
Kathleen Dowling Singh explains why we must die before we die: “The ordinary mind and its delusions die in the Nearing Death Experience. As death carries us off, it is impossible to any longer pretend that who we are is our ego. The ego is transformed in the very carrying off.” [1]
Some form of death—psychological, spiritual, relational, or physical—is the only way we will loosen our ties to our small and separate false self. Only then does it return in a new shape which we might call the Risen Christ, the soul, or the True Self.
What dies? Your false self—and it is just a matter of when, not if.
Who lives? The God Self that has always lived, but now includes you.
Note that it’s a what that dies, and a who that lives!
Once you know that life and death are not two but are part of a whole, you will begin to view reality in a holistic, undivided way, and that will be the change that changes everything. This is nondual consciousness. No one can teach you this. Even Jesus had to walk it on his own, which is the only meaning of God “requiring” his death of him. Jesus calls this goal the “destiny” of the “Human One” (Mark 8:31), and he seems to know that he is a stand-in for all of us (Mark 10:39)—much more than he ever walks around saying, “I am God”! The only person Jesus ever calls a “devil” is Peter when he, the so-called “infallible” first pope, tries to oppose Jesus’ central message of death and resurrection (Matthew 16:23).

Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

[1] Kathleen Dowling Singh, The Grace in Dying: A Message of Hope, Comfort, and Spiritual Transformation (HarperOne: 2000), 219.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 59-60, 62, 66, 81.

Image credit: Autumn Leaves (detail), Koan, 2018.