A solid case can be made that the fundamental core motivation underlying virtually all human behavior, personally, socially and culturally, is fear. And the most basic fear, lying at the heart of all their many forms and varieties, is the fear of death. Let us now ask: What is the source of this nearly universal fear of death?
Obviously, the thought of personal death can only arise in the mind of a body/mind organism that has learned that all physical bodies are mortal, and that his body is no exception. But the fear of death can only appear if the body/mind in question has first believed the thought that he is the body, or that his life is absolutely dependent on that body for its existence. The fact is that it is not death per se which is feared, but the apparent end of “one’s consciousness” itself; which signifies, to “our self,” the end of our life, our identity, our story, and our world.
Non-duality tries to bring us to an experiential living appreciation of the essential “empty nature” of physical reality which modern nuclear physics and quantum theory have already discovered and demonstrated. The “substance” of the world is not matter, but a complex dance of subtile energy patterns in a field of awareness. All we can ever know of “the world” is based entirely upon sensations, which are only experiences in conscious awareness itself. Consequently, all our perceptions and “experiences” of an “outside world” consist only of inferences, projections, and beliefs within consciousness itself. How then does this dream or illusion become the real, solid and tangible world of our experience? The trick is accomplished when the psychic belief system (of thoughts) of a body/mind organism inhabits the belief and sense of its self as a separate, discrete and autonomous entity. As such, all that appears “outside” its arbitrary borders and boundaries now becomes the “external” world. From the point of view of an imagined separate entity, the experience of its complement, an imagined separate world, could not seem other than absolutely solid and real. This co-appearance (by imagination, in consciousness) is called, in Buddhist teachings, an instance of “mutual arising.”
This leaves us in the unenviable predicament of having the full-on living experience of being a vulnerable, pathetic and tragic human figure engaged in its long and painful slog to an almost certain pitiful end. The Buddha called this condition suffering. What is always possible, however, is finding a crack in the cosmic egg – a psychological quantum leap into a radically new life of utter fearlessness, unconditional love, freedom, spontaneity, gratitude, and absolute peace.
Fortunately, it is possible, though not always easy, to follow the advice of legions of mystics and sages throughout history, to learn to “die before you die.” This means to surrender your attachment to and your identification as the limited mortal body/mind, which is clearly the most blatant and insidious case of “identity theft” which has ever been perpetrated. It is necessary to awake to the realization that the conscious awareness you mistook to be a characteristic of your “body/mind self” is, in fact, your only true identity and timeless essence. It is only that in which the appearance and the experiencing of the body, mind and world could ever have seemed to take place. And it is only that spaceless and timeless aware presence that has ever truly existed. Its eternal nature is intangible being, conscious presence, and immutable peace. [In sanskrit: sat, chit, ananda.] It is that which preceded your “birth” and survives your “death.” And it is only that which has seen every sight, tasted every taste, had every experience, and felt all the love you have ever known. It is God. It is Life. It is Heaven. It is now and it is here. And, of course, it is only that which is reading this.