There is a lot of ‘feel good’ religion and spirituality out there. That’s good, because love and positive energy is something that we need more off in this world. But if our spirituality leads us to a detachment from life by putting a positive spin on everything, and we thereby never face our pain or problems, there will be less transformation.
Death has always been the core of religion and spirituality. Not for the morbid reason that some may think, as it also has a positive side other than heaven. From death and rebirth rituals found in native ceremonies to the Resurrection of Christ, death serves as the agent of spiritual regeneration.
In Purity and Danger, Mary Douglas writes that, the ritual embrace of death is “a protection, not against death but against madness.” This quote points out that spiritual regeneration can only come about through the rebirth that comes after the acceptance of death.
Also in Near-Death Experiences we see that positive life-changes and transformation is brought on by actually, or nearly dying. Why is that? It’s the ego and our everyday patterns that are in the way of our transformation, and there is probably no other experience of ego-death as strong as in the near-death experience.
In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle explains how the ego works:
The dark shadow of the ego is actually afraid of the light of your consciousness. It is afraid of being found out. Its survival depends on your unconscious identification with it, as well as your unconscious fear of facing the pain that lives in you.
We now see what Douglas means about the embrace of death. By letting the ego die, we can see the light of what is on the other side and thus see through our patterns. Some of the ego’s excuses can be found in Brianna Wiest’s blog 16 Uncomfortable Feelings That Indicate You’re On The Right Path. These feelings include the feeling of being lost, irrational sadness or anger, feeling like your world is collapsing, and feeling unsure about who you really are.
All feelings that we know. But many of us see these feelings as negative and therefore try to suppress them. Some years ago I wrote a book about the old poem The Dark Night of the Soul, in which St. John on the Cross speaks of two dark nights: an active and a passive night. In the active night we fight against our pain or sadness and try to suppress it. But this only feeds our pain and makes it bigger. Therefore, the only way out of the dark night of the soul, is to passively embrace our pain and listen to what it has to tell us.
This is the same about death because rebirth can only come about if we surrender and passively accept the transformation that is being born. Have you ever experienced a death and rebirth that brought on transformation in your life? What are your lessons? Feel free to share.
You can read my free book Surviving the Dark Night of the Soul by clicking here.