“We do not die…!”
This was what, in astonished recognition, I told myself one day more than twenty years ago, when I stumbled without warning into the Place Where We Do Not Die.
I do not know how I got there – perhaps it had something to do with certain nerves being stimulated by the abdominal massage I was receiving for my insomnia. But the “how” doesn’t matter – I hastened to get more massages after that, and they always left me in the most ordinary of realities.
What matters is the possibility that we do not die.
For me, a chance massage made that possibility a certainty, and that certainty changed my life, filling it with new and joyous meaning.
Naturally, I’ve yearned to share the good news with all the world ever since – yet until now, apart from a few conversations with friends and a few poems and stories, I have kept the whole thing to myself. After all, I had no desire to be pigeonholed as some kind of naive spiritual grandstander, and anyway I couldn’t imagine anyone in the mainstream media giving me the time of day.
Now, however, current events have changed all that. Given the overwhelming dismay so many are feeling in the face of humanity’s current plight, I can no longer keep silent.
I am encouraged in this decision by the example of Argentine sage Silo, who declared his own faith in transcendence in his 1980 talk on the Meaning of Life:
“Those who achieve that faith or that transcendent experience—even if they cannot define it in precise terms, as one cannot precisely define love—will recognize the need to orient others toward meaning in life, though never do they try to impose their own landscape on those who do not recognize it.
“And so… I declare before all of you my faith and my certainty from experience that death does not stop the future, that death on the contrary modifies the provisional state of our existence to launch it toward immortal transcendence. And I do not impose my certainty or my faith upon anyone, and I live in harmony with those who find themselves in different states with respect to meaning in life. But I am obliged in solidarity to offer this message—a message that I recognize makes the human being happy and free. For no reason will I evade my responsibility to express my truths, though they may seem doubtful to those who experience the provisional nature of life and the absurdity of death.”*
Here, then, is my testimony, taken from the notes I jotted down immediately upon returning from my “rapture”:
“I am here again, in this place I lived long ago in my agonized youth. Now, as if no time at all had passed, my good friends and I are together again, all of us young and vital, talking quietly as we share soup and bread around the long plank table in our old Santa Cruz adobe. The warm evening sun is pouring in through the open back door, nasturtiums are climbing gold and green around the doorframe, and we can hear the sound of the sea that rushes up to us across the white dunes…
“Everything is the same as it was in my dim and painful youth, with one profound difference. Now, for the first time, I am here with all my being, fully and joyfully present. In those old times, when I was not yet young enough at heart to know myself, I spent almost every waking moment turned inward on myself, fascinated by the horrific shadows of my fears, and so hardly noticed the beauty and warmth of my surroundings or the shining faces of my companions…
“But now, oh glory, now at last I am truly here, life filling every cell and fiber of my being with an ocean of contentment and peace. I know now that all is well, always has been, and always will be. I know that we do not die, and that nothing good is ever lost, and that all negativity is nothing but a misinterpretation of reality. Even all the years of my youth that I thought lost in misery are here, shining in all their beauty, because the essence of every moment is eternal…”
That is what I wrote – and that is all. I knew at the time that there was much more, if only I could remember it – but it had already slipped away…
Back in the day-to-day realm, or almost back, I found myself lying on the floor, receiving my massage from the very young man who had just set up his new San Francisco office.
Still half lingering in that blissful other time and space, wondering if I could somehow stay there, I asked him, “Will they arrest you for murder if I don’t come back?”
Taken aback, he only chuckled uncertainly, and said, “You had a strong experience…”
“Yes,” I told him. “I was in the Place Where We Do Not Die. Do you know anything about that?”
He did not know what to say.
As for me, I left his office bowled over, delighted beyond belief, feeling like I was beginning an entirely new life, a life in which never again would I be truly afraid of death.
I have never had another such experience, and I know that from a rational point of view none of this makes any sense. Yet never for a microsecond have I doubted its truth. Even today, when the experience is only a memory, the certainty is still with me. I know in my bones that we do not die.
Not that I’m trying to convince anyone. I know we each have to find our own truth. I just want to share my experience because it fills me with such relief and gladness that I want to sing it from the rooftops and bring others joy.
Imagine the wonderful mayhem when our immortality suddenly becomes common knowledge!
First the headlines:
WE DO NOT DIE!
DEATH EXPOSED AS AN IMPOSTER!
Then the feature story:
After seven million years of pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes, Death, the former Big Boss of all humanity, has finally been exposed as a shameless fraud. Inside sources report that after heavy losses of an undisclosed nature, the Grim Reaper has been forced to abandon his multiple estates on all the continents and is living out of his car somewhere in the vicinity of Las Vegas, Nevada…
Then, almost as an afterthought, in a quietly dignified black box on the back page, Death’s obituary.
With that the floodgates open, and the testimonials begin to pour into everyone’s Twitter feed: Yes! I had the same experience! And finally even the scientists begin to test the radical new “Entirely Benign Theory” of human existence…
When that day comes – and it will! – imagine the dancing and singing and riotous celebrating that will erupt all across the planet! The pharmaceutical companies will lose a sizable chunk of their business because no one will be anxious or depressed or stressed. Even the mother of all fears, the Fear of Death, will finally be able to relax and start enjoying life, maybe take up watercolors…
It is in anticipation of that day that I am sharing my story. I realize my account is only anecdotal, and look forward to the day when those with proper credentials devise the double blind studies that will confirm the truth of the matter once and for all, saving billions of skeptics millennia of needless suffering. Until then, I am speaking my piece as one more bit of evidence that it is possible to live without fear.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not enlightened. While the discovery that we do not die changed something deep inside me, it unfortunately left the ramshackle castle of my surface life quite shakily intact. I still wake up every day to uncertainty, and I still fear losing my health, my loved ones, my home, my money, my physical life – as befits this realm of pain and pleasure and constant change.
But – and this is the best thing about knowing we don’t die – my life is no longer completely run by fear. I may still be swept into the panic of the moment, but my roots go deep, and through them I can feel the calm that comes up from the depths.
And I know where I’m going, and what I want. I’m heading to the Place We Do Not Die, and when I get there, I want more than anything to throw open the door for everyone, everyone, everyone to enter.
Until then, I am happy to be here with everyone on this wild carnival ride we call life. To keep from falling off, I try to do what the sages suggest – pray, meditate, live joyfully, be kind, and give thanks.
So in gratitude for walking the path of life, and in deep appreciation for all the signposts, rock pyramids, and fluttering flags of hope and encouragement left by other travelers along the way, I am planting here beside the path my own joyous banner:
“We Do Not Die.
Nothing good is ever lost.
Negativity is just a misinterpretation of a thoroughly benign reality…”
*from Silo’s talk on the “Meaning of Life,” Mexico City, 1980
About the writer:
Trudi Lee Richards
Siloist writer, poet, and singer-songwriter; curator of Winged Lion Press Cooperative; Spanish-English translator. Published work includes The Confessions of Olivia; On Wings of Intent, a biography of Silo; Soft Brushes with Death, a Jorge Espinet Primer; Fish Scribbles; and Experiences on the Threshold. Ongoing projects include audio recordings and possibly a podcast of her literary and musical work. Publishing exploits from the pre-internet past include Human Future, an independent review published from 1989-96 in San Francisco, CA; and La Mamelle, a San Francisco arts publication of the ’70s for which she was co-founder. A graduate of Stanford University, she is the mother of five grown kids/stepkids and five step grandkids. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is a member of the Portland Community of Silo’s Message.