Paula Gares, clinical psychologist, transpersonal psychotherapist, Biotransenergetics method. She graduated from the Integral Transpersonal Institute in Milan. She is in charge of the Om lei office in Brescia, where she lives and works, leading meditation groups and working as an individual and couple psychotherapist. She is in charge of the Unit Passage which deals with the theme of real and symbolic Death and all the passages of life that involve mourning, separations and elaborations. She is passionate about walking in the open air and in the mountains, she organizes intensive groups in contact with Nature.
Erika Fracassi, nurse, graduated from the University of Medicine and Surgery of Florence. She is passionate and practicing mountaineer, she deals with spiritual issues for personal growth and sharing. You find the evolutionary path par excellence in the mountains and the wisest interlocutor in Nature, the place for answers. She organizes walking groups in which to experience themes that are dear to her.
Dying is easy. To meet death it takes courage. (Noticing is difficult)
In life you die many times. We die, the things around us die. Ideas, projects, courses, appeals, places, moments, emotions die.
Everything dies and everything is born. Continuously.
A constant, lively, vibrant becoming. Nothing stands still. Nothing stands still. Nothing remains unchanged. That things are the same as before, that we are the same as yesterday, is pure illusion. Superficiality of analysis. Dying is easy indeed. People die many times, and often without realizing it. To meet death, however, it takes courage. To recognize and accept deeply within us that nothing belongs to us, not even our identity, not even our body, it is necessary to overcome the fear of the indefinite, the disorientation of the unknown, the attachment to any sense.
Only once space has been made for emptiness is it possible to observe things as they are. In their constant change, in their uncontrollability.
Only in a mental attitude of profound acceptance of constant becoming, of the succession of ends and beginnings, of ends that are beginnings and beginnings that are ends, is it possible to prepare to accept the finitude of our physical body and welcome its death as an essential moment of life. Live it therefore, not only by dying, but by going with calm awareness and natural acceptance towards death.
You are scared
Yes ... I understand ... I have it too ...
They all have it. It's normal, it's human. We are afraid of what hurts, especially if it is unknown, if it comes from afar, if there are no words to explain or understand it, if we do not feel any power or control, if we try in every way to grasp its meaning but it escapes us as sand between our fingers, if it is a lifetime that we try to peek through the keyhole to see what lies beyond and that beyond seems more and more confused, indefinite, indecipherable.
Man has observed Death since the dawn of time, interrogates it, dissects it surgically, sews complicated and fascinating stories about its shape, its path, its message, and every time Mrs. Death gets out of hand, has the upper hand, remains a mystery with no certain answer, except to those who nourish an unreserved faith and choose the meaning to which to trust.
I don't belong to these people.
I don't have an answer, I don't have a creed that calms my soul when it is tormented by the fear of the unknown, when it hears Death knocking in all its forms: the physical one that makes man mortal and painful every separation, as well as the countless symbolic deaths that every human being finds in his path hundreds of thousands of times in every life.
I don't have a creed but a feeling that therefore has no claim to be the answer or the way. I wish to share it here with those who hear the call of Mrs. Death's warning to seek its meaning in the folds of existence or with those who fear it and want or hope to befriend an enemy. (A counterphobic interest I would say, no less dignified than other more common spiritual pursuits, given the topic.)
But I'm not alone, I'm not that strong, nor do I feel that important. Before me, to mark the way, to try to show the way, to remember the importance of getting close to her, to breathe her, to exercise her in life, to enter into it as much as possible in confidence, the great Spiritual Masters of all times and places. It is on their shoulders that I lean, it is their support that guides and teaches me.
"Of all the footprints that of the elephant is the supreme, of all meditations of mindfulness, that of death is the supreme". So a saying from Tibetan Buddhist philosophy suggests to us. Within these words, the meaning of all the teachings coming from the spiritual tradition of every time and place, as perennial philosophy shows us.
The Tibetan tradition therefore asks our accelerated and consumerist culture to reverse. Because driven by the fear of Death, we have built a society that rejects it and runs away from it as much as possible. We cannot grow old, the time that brings us closer to death must not be seen, and consequently not accepted. Children are not taken to funerals, to hospitals, in the face of grief or illness. We cannot speak of death or even name it, we cannot say words like tumor, cancer or the like, replaced by more protective terms such as "that disease", "evil".
So any disease that reminds us of our finiteness must be kept hidden, defeated. It is a war between us and Death, in the absurd illusion of having some weapon to win it. Consequently creating situations that are completely far from a quality well-being which can be living knowing that you are alive.
Not even the deceased can be called dead but they are those who pass away, who lack the affection of their loved ones, who are no longer among the living or have died ...
Every silence reminds us of the frightening antechamber of Mrs. Morte and so we fill it with sounds, thoughts, virtual, social, hyper-Dionysian compensations to the point of disconnecting ourselves from feeling, so as not to try.
We cover white hair, pull wrinkles, fill our faces with fillers, just as we fill our pernsieri with fillers so that they take us everywhere but not there, not in front of you. Emptiness is forbidden, loneliness is removed, it is having fled the silence, every end is fought in vain. And then, when it arrives, as the good Tiziano Terzani reminds us in the wonderful book "The end is my beginning", we are unprepared, we suffer terribly, we cling to life and in doing so, we suffer even more. Because we don't want to let it go, because we have spent our existence trying to forget the presence of Death and consequently we have not learned the inevitable finiteness of all things.
Turning our backs on Death has only deluded us into holding on to life or holding life on to us. And so we come to every end unprepared, experiencing fear, anisia or terror and sometimes depression.
So let's stop.
Let's breathe for a moment and stop.
Everything is impermanent, this is a law of life and we cannot change it. We can only decide, as the perennial spiritual tradition suggests, what to do in the face of this law. We can stop running away and finally turn towards what we feel, towards fear, towards terror, in search of meaning.
And it is Death itself that shows us its meaning: to learn the law of impermanence, thus stopping to fight against it, training to let go in the face of every little or big death.
Which does not mean not suffering, but it means not holding back, not fighting, not rejecting, welcoming, flowing with, knowing how to see with clear eyes that recognize that SO IS.
It is not always beautiful, it is not always desirable, it is not always without pain or suffering. Simply like this is the law that every life in the universe carries in its atoms and particles and which indicates that everything is subject to continuous change, that nothing is forever and therefore everything has an end.
Refusing this end is foolish as well as useless. It leads to an illusion that we can also harbor for a certain period of our life, but that like everything, it will be destined to meet its end.
Any effort to escape from this Truth will only produce attachment and consequent pain (with all the clinical psychological correlates related to addictions and anxiety and depession disorders).
Therefore, rejecting it creates disease.
But the good news that comes precisely from the ancient Buddhist philosophy and from all the original traditions is within our reach and is a path that each of us can take and whose starting point is represented by the possibility of looking Mrs. Death in the eyes every time life gives us the chance without running away. To remain. And listen.
What would happen if we allowed ourselves to contemplate for a long time the image of our death or our funeral?
What would happen if we breathed deeply in front of the image of our decaying body that gives itself to the earth?
What would happen if walking through a cemetery, we closed our eyes, opened our hands and listened?
What if we really allow ourselves to stand in front of Mrs. Death's door and look at her, observe her, breathe her?
The teaching of ancient Theravada Buddhism and all the original traditions indicates the answer to these existential questions.
Standing in front of Death in contemplative and profound meditation opens the doors that lie behind the stage on which the first and oldest biological fear of the end of one's existence manifests itself: what this fear hides, if crossed, is the possibility of accepting the idea of finitude, of impermanence, of the perennial life-death-life cycle of all things. And when this meditation is practiced, our mind learns to generalize the teaching to every aspect of daily life. We learn to look at what surrounds us with new eyes. Eyes that are able to imagine that we will leave everything, that everything is transformed, that everything has an end, that everything is destined to die. Eyes therefore capable of generating a state of consciousness defined by the psychology of the depth and by the spiritual traditions "non-attachment".
“Once the fear of death is eliminated, the way of being in the world changes. Consequently, there are no fundamental differences between training in dying and death on the one hand and spiritual practice leading to enlightenment on the other. ". St. Grof
And what is transformed thanks to non-attachment is the way of life: if I cannot hold back anything, what remains is to flow with life, accept events, let go, be totally anchored in the present moment, enjoy every moment that offers nurturing and possessing a clear and empty mind able to choose the right action to take to operate on the here and now.
By giving up the omnipotent illusion of control and the frustration of total helplessness generated by fear, we then regain personal power over our lives. The power to remain and to be able to discern one's place and direction in the present moment, which is therefore lived to the full in all its potential.
Free from fear, Death can therefore remind us that there is no other time to live than now.
It is now that you can make a difference in your life, now, in this instant when you are realizing that you are alive.
Free from the need for control over the future or from resentment towards the past, the boundless and only possibility of living that we have opens up in front of us: The now! The here!
And from this present where we can make a difference, we are therefore able to recognize the sacred spiritual power of Death.
Its indication is to descend from the dual thinking mind that lives in the psychological time of the past and the future, to the unitive Heart that feels and lives in the chronological time of the here and now: otherwise called the Self.
It is only from this Self that every spiritual journey begins.
The passage through Death is therefore narrow and frightening, but if we allow ourselves to cross it, it has in store for each one of us the deepest gifts towards spiritual awakening and awareness of that Self to which every ancient tradition refers when it speaks. of God.
“To experience the void is to experience God” PLLattuada
- Gares, P. The Via Maestra. Death and rebirth, horizons of awareness. ITI Edizioni, Milan, 2018
- Grof, S. The last journey. Psychedelic therapy, shamanism, death and rebirth. Adria: Apogee, 2006
- Lattuada, PL, Notes from the lessons of Transpersonal Psychotherapy, Integral Transpersonal Institute
- Terzani, T. The end is my beginning, Il Cammeo series, Longanesi, 2006