“And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
What do these words taken from Luke’s gospels concerning the “dead” mean? What does it mean to be “dead”?
The very first time I realized I was a walking dead was when I was an eight year old child in casual moment of lucidity that happens to many persons, probably even a child. But, at the moment it happened, I realized that the perception I had of the world before, was totally different from what I was experiencing at that precise moment.
Such as a veil which was removed from my eyes, allowing me to see what was around me, to perceive myself there, in that moment- alive. In that moment, a house was really a house, I was seeing it, and the bricks of the house I was seeing were really reddish- brown. I felt the air on my skin, such as I was experiencing this for the first time in my life and all the noises, rumors, and colors were something “natural”, “such as they must be”.
This was what I had experienced, and it lasted for perhaps a minute, maybe more- even the perception of time was nonexistent. It was a perception of “I” being “Here” and “Now”. Then, I returned to the ordinary state, covered by a cloak of thoughts, emotions, and fantasies… another world: the veil had been lowered again, and what remained with me, from this very first experience, was the feeling of being what my fantasy expressed as a walking dead, a zombie, one of Romero’s characters who walk on this earth without any consciousness of what they are doing. At the beginning, this feeling was very impressive for my fantasies. Indeed, they had the tendency to transform any one experience into something more “digestible” for our minds. I felt it as very interesting that I was walking as a living dead from the movies or the comics – a body, empty of every “glimpse” of life that walks on the street. A childish fantasy, but it was normal- I WAS a child. Then, after several months, it happened again… and again… and again… and every time it was less amusing, because I was realizing something else: I was “imprisoned” by the “veil” or, better said, the veil was all around me, I was willy-nilly closed in a box, separated from what was happening around me, without any possibility of escaping this condition, except to wait for another moment of lucidity.
The possibilities for a solution came later, after eight years, but in the meantime, I lived in a sort of understanding that the world I was perceiving, as I was perceiving, was only an illusion. At some times, I had the feeling of not being able to really perceive anything. And this produced states of pain which had blossomed into anxiety and later, panic attacks.
And, in the eyes of others, who asked God what kind of problems I had, no one understood what was happening to me, and I had no one with which to share the reasons of my condition. Indeed, I realized that no one had ever noticed this little “problem” of living and reacting like a walking dead.
My mentor (teacher) used to say that humans are much like monkeys, because of the repetition of their thoughts, emotions and actions; but what remained with me, in order to describe this condition, was the Jesus parable of the “dead”.
“Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead” said Jesus, according to Matthew, 8:22. We live in a planet with almost seven billion of those dead to their lives, who think they are alive. This is the condition of modern society.
“He who is alive”, “the living” is not the ordinary man or woman; such an individual is far away from this condition, even in the first stages of his personal inner work. To use Gurdjieff’s example, he is the man number 5, an individual who is not identified with his personality, but in his true being, the essence, and he lives through it; an individual who is always present, in every moment, to any act he performs; namely, an “awakened one” (or, if you prefer, a Buddha). Such a human, has not to be searched among “the dead”, among those who are still “sleeping”. And, “sleeping” is the ordinary, limiting condition.
But, we can escape from this condition, escape from the “land of the dead” through waking up, but we have to do this with “discretion” if we don’t want to experience a “rebellion” of our personality, which could mortify our every attempt to escape.
Our psychophysical structure is like an electromagnetic field, a living electric dynamo which is used at the minimum of its possibilities. As seen in other posts, we lose energy in useless and nonproductive actions, physical tensions, bad breathing behavior, harmful emotions, and uncontrolled thoughts which haunt our mind every day at every moment, both day and night, when we sleep.
Even the outer world is an electromagnetic field, pervaded by waves of every type and intensity which produce further difficulties to the work of awakening. Our personal field is continuously distorted from all the “frequencies” (additional conditionings) with which we are subordinated every day. And all this makes less controllable our emotions and thoughts. This is not a sci-fi story; it’s our actual condition that, with a “glimpse” of observation, could be noticed in everyone. So, in some way, awakening, is not a strictly “spiritual problem”, but a problem of “electric interferences”: the conditionings of every type with which we are subjected, which apparently deny the possibility of awakening.
So, emerging from this condition, from the “land of the dead”, means freeing our True Self (our Essence/Being) from the conditioned psychophysical apparatus which is susceptible to these “interferences”. This is a necessary process to non- identify ourselves (our essence) from personality (false self); we have to stop believing that we are our personality, a condition which keeps our True Self buried under the desires of our false self.
Until the life of a person proceeds in an “undisturbed way”, without any kind of physical or emotional “shocks”, there are no possibilities to realize the situation, and to feel the need to end it.
Only a kind of “suffering” intended not in Buddhist terms, as illusion, but as a friction to our ordinary life, could break the link which brings us to be identified with our personality – the false image we have of ourselves. Such kind of suffering could be unintentional, produced from some unexpected events in our life, or intentional, so when we are “forced” to do something which we usually don’t wish to do, or to end something we are usually accustomed (so, addicted) to do. This kind of friction prevents the habit to “sleep” during our whole life.
But there’s something more essential, in order to accomplish this process: to awaken through a work of self-observation, so that we can notice, and observe, that once we wake up from our bed in the morning, we are not really “awake”. Through observing ourselves and what happens around us, we break off, (at the beginning partially, but with practice, totally) the illusion of being our personality and, consequently, the identification with all our conditionings: at once, even for a moment, “we” and our “personality” are no longer the same thing.
But there’s a further thing that is forgotten, even by those who follow a path towards such awakening: having a “heart”. Indeed, there’s a common attitude to pay more attention to the intellectual concept concerning this argument than to our life, and even to others. Even in a work of self- discovery, there’s a tendency -that results in a trap from which it’s really difficult to free ourselves- of being so focused on what we do, how we feel, what happens in us, that we forget that we are not alone in this world, that there also exist other persons.
And this is a very dangerous trap, egoistic and more harmful than we could think, which could make our life a sterile, black and white hell, empty of every emotion.
He who is “not dead”, thus alive, is in love with life, and every attempt of refusing to live it, in the company of our beloved and others is a sure way to make us distant from what Jesus called “Heart”, and is today commonly known, between the “insiders”, as Higher Emotional. So, be in love with your life, as best as you can, as often as you can.
…The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
Matthew, 28, 5-7