No-mind in hospital room
Tita Mely, my dad’s sister and the only one left among the siblings, was 86 and stricken with pneumonia—and from Europe, the United States, Hong Kong and Manila her children came. On her last day we were all at her bedside, up to the last moment.
Ycasiano blood runs through all of us, and supposedly we are endowed with much intellect, my cousins’ intellect perhaps further heightened by Moreno genes. We are all baby boomers—the generation that struggles against our parents’ world view, which was bound by myths, mores and conventions of the prevailing culture.
Our parents’ generation did strive to break free of the spell of myths and half-truths, and this led to technological breakthroughs and the advance of medicine. While largely conformist, their generation sought meaning and truth in scientific terms. This “extreme rationality” caused the distancing of the self from both the within and without of nature. It also resulted in further strengthening their rigidity and repression.
The baby boomers took to task the previous generation’s universals, ranking, hierarchies, and individualism, and screamed “Oppression! Domination! Marginalization! Elitism! Arrogance!” The boomers argued that all are equal, and that not just persons but also all ideas must be honored equally. No one idea is better than the other; everything is relative. Each person is said to be unique, different, separate. “I do my thing, you do yours,” we boomers would say. What resulted from this is a radical isolation of self, of alienation.
In Tita Mely’s hospital room, in the last hours and minutes up to the last moment, no intellect was there, just pure intelligence. While Ycasiano men are not given to being physically demonstrative, no words were needed, no expression of any world view evidenced itself. There was an utter absence of mind. A transcendence took over; an experience of oneness arose and encompassed all. It was an experience of love, of compassion.
This experience of having all angst, all misunderstanding and turmoil that certainly went on between our parents and ourselves simply disappear at the time of death made me ponder: What is reality? Is it possible that all the trouble we go through in life is simply made up by the mind? Is it possible that we got a peek into reality, at truth, in those moments of absence of mind? Is it possible that the crises we go through in life are ways of reality to wake us, to jolt us to look inward and perhaps find truth? Is this the objective of meditation, to empty the mind and therefore get glimpses of, and eventually find, our true nature?
If the death of our loved one had this effect on us, I wonder what will happen if we become constantly aware that all things are impermanent and that all of us are dying. Will this not result in having more compassion, more humility and love? Can this practice perhaps help in stilling the mind, in ridding it of all its noise, and then opening us up to the now, to the Presence? Is it not paradoxical that accepting and facing death every day can actually make for a better and peaceful life because we can have more compassion?
Do we even really die after our physical death? Is there not a continuum, are not life and death just two sides of a coin? Does not our life now determine how we die and also determine our afterlife?
Kenneth Ring, who has written books on near-death experience (NDE), reports that a striking number of those who went through such an experience describe a “panoramic life review.” Sometimes they even live through the effects their actions have had on others, and experience the emotions their actions have caused. Sometimes the life review takes place in the company of a glorious presence, a “being of light.” According to Ring, what stands out from the various testimonies is that this meeting with the “being” reveals that the only truly serious goals in life are “learning to love other people and acquiring knowledge.”
Raymond A. Moody, MD, PhD, has written 11 books and interviewed over a thousand people on NDE. What he found the most common report from all these people is this: Only love is real. Dr. Brian Weiss, a Yale- and Cambridge-trained psychiatrist who had conducted over 4,000 past-life regressions as of the year 2002 and has also written books including “Messages from the Masters” and “Same Soul, Many Bodies,” says the same thing: Only love is real. And, further illustrating life after death, there are now programs on cable TV showing the reality of ghosts.
From NDE reports, past-life regressions, and ghosts as featured on TV, I would surmise that in one category, the “documented” ghosts are the spirits of those who lived a life full of anger and hatred and/or those who have not learned to let go of some kind of worldly attachment/s. In a second category may be those who linger longer in, and are still learning lessons from, the spiritual plane, without disturbing human space. And in a third category may be those who have been reborn and given a chance, or maybe have chosen, to go through another life in a physical form, to go through all the (karmic?) trials in life and to learn to use these trials to hopefully, eventually, and finally uncover our true nature.
Kenneth Ring and Raymond Moody (from over a thousand interviews with people who went through NDE) and Brian Weiss (from thousands of past-life regressions) have come up with the same message: Only love is real. If, indeed, the only reality is love, therefore love must be our true nature. But if love is our true nature, then why do we experience so much pain, and why is humanity in such a mess? Why is there a real threat even to the point of humanity’s possible extinction due to man’s folly?
What currently prevails, therefore, must be the opposite of reality: illusion. Reality as we know it must simply be a mind-construct. I guess our experience during Tita Mely’s passing must be replicated. Without the necessity of anyone dying, of course, but a method must be sought to be able to attain that state of no-mind which, I guess, must be the ground of our true nature. As we experienced in that hospital room, the state of no-mind is also a state of awareness, an awareness of reality.
A constant awareness of the impermanence of all things, an awareness that we are all dying, will, I believe, be a great help in the process of uncovering our true self. If love is the only reality, then love must be our true nature. Didn’t Jesus Christ say that “the kingdom of God is within”?
Philip S. Ycasiano, 62, is a retired businessman and a director of the Philippine Columbian Association. He went to Ateneo de Manila for grade school, Aquinas School for high school, and De La Salle University for college.
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