I have been thinking about the passing of my friend René. The one thing that unites us all is death, and yet it is the least understood journey of all. Upon the death of the Maestro I heard a person say, "Well, I guess that means we all move up one place in line." I think he was talking about career but it's also true for life; we all move one position closer to the exit at the death of those who are older.
There was a time when I thought of heaven as some great reunion. Those whom we have known would be there to greet us and celebrate eternal life for well... eternity. As I get closer to the actual experience I am not so clear about what is "there". In fact I can't even conceive of what "there" is.
Teachers and philosophers will say that "knowing" is impossible. The human mind can not conceive of what spiritual existence is. Mortals can not quantify immorality. It's a catch 22. Any human concept about immortality and eternity is incorrect. This circular thinking does not sit well with my human reason.
It all comes down, not to concept but, to consciousness. What will my consciousness be when I have "shed this mortal shell". I assume in this human-less state I would be conscious of the Truth, Love and understand what Principle is but: will I be consciously aware of what I did or did not do while in that shell? Will the consciousness I know as "me" still be intact or totally irrelevant?
Assuming that my consciousness remains individualized I would "know" other individualized conscious entities on the same plane. That would be like a marathon celestial party in an esoteric way. I would know everyone in consciousness not necessarily by physical form since there would be no physical form on that plane. But what are we if we are not the sum total of what we have done as a human?
Who are we when we refer to ourselves as I am? What are we when we say I am? Conscious Awareness perhaps? I am aware of my existence. The only thing we can know is this moment. A conscious recognition of our own being. I AM. The more we identify with this consciousness of I Am, the closer we are to immortality and eternity. I AM seems to be the only consciousness that continues on after our death, but not the consciousness of I Am in human life but abstract existence.
Since all my earthly pleasures will be unavailable to me, consciousness is all that I will take. If I am unsure of who I am in the realism of eternity, then I am unsure of eternity. What I did or what I accomplished (or didn't) in this limited Earthly existence is irrelevant. If I conceive of myself as the sum total of all the Earthly possessions and achievements, then I will be left without an identity in the next plane of existence.
Christianity believes in a "get out of Jail free" card. I am not convinced that a ransom paid by an Earth bound deity is enough to give me the sense of I Am. The belief that one can do anything they wish and at the last minute play the redemption card seems contrary to the way life works. Can we really gain this "heavenly reward" by publicly acknowledging a belief. With faith in this belief we are saved?.. but saved from what? Belief is important but it is trumped by knowing. What can I actually know about this divine bargain? We are back once again to what we can know as humans.
If I can't know what tomorrow will bring, how can I know what eternity will bring? To experience what happens in the future, I will have to know the I am that is experiencing it. Otherwise the experience will take place without an observer and as we all know: a tree that falls in the Forrest when no one is there to hear it makes no sound.
Once again we are back to circular logic. I am then the observer of I am. I am not the observer of WHO I am but simply the observer of THE I AM. I am observing the ever renewing eternal nature of life. For me that force is God. Man, then, is the point at which God knows of his own existence. Man is that knowledge of individual eternal Mind which is also our Mind. Like a grain of sand which is not the beach but the beach is a collective of individual grains of sand, we are not God but collectively represent God.
This probably flies in the face of most organized religions. This I AM idea was not taught to me in the fundamental Methodist faith I was raised. In that philosophy I was taught that there were rules I could follow and concepts I could acknowledge that would get me a line pass to this private club called heaven. I had no reason to doubt it, but back then I also had no reason to doubt that Santa Claus had elves who made toys in a shop at the North Pole. I have matured in both concepts enough to question the idea that something is true just because adults tell you it is. Knowing that there is no North Pole workshop has not ruined the Christmas spirit for me. Knowing that heaven is not this "members only" after party in the sky does not ruin spirituality for me.
I am not trying to change anyone Else's idea of what eternity might be. It will always be the great unknown and unverified place we all seem to end up. In the same way I am not looking for someone to "save" me from these thoughts. It seems to me that if you are trying to know the I AM of God and that this God is the same to everyone everywhere, so we should all treat one another like we would want to be treated, and truly live that way.... then whatever reward is coming will not be withheld because we did not belong to the proper organization.
That's just me. You probably feel differently.
As you were,