The act of dying: for my friend Don

my friend Don
A sense of lightening, and expanding, a floating free.
For some it takes a single seamless sigh,
for others it is a more gradual ascension.
Either way works. Both astound the heart with unexpected
joy, both get us where we are going.
But an enormous irony separates the dying from the living –
a mirror effect in space.
Things are not what they appear.
Each stage of the body shutting down liberates something within.
Each outer manifestation of death is accompanied
by an increasingly expansive aliveness within.
In dying, as in meditation, the deeper we go the less
definable we become, and the more real we feel.
Immobility is the first outer sign of death,
but as the element of solidity dissolves
there is a sense of being unbound
as pain disappears into a new freedom of movement.
It’s like taking off a shoe that was too tight.
Then the circulatory system closes down, as the fluid
element withdraws into the departing life force,
opening within a sense of increasing fluidity.
A feeling of being more like an ocean than a boulder.
The body cools as the fire element converges in the heart
and exits through the top of the head.
We sense a rising upward,
like heat radiating from the sunstruck highway.
Lastly, the body becomes rigid and looks more like marble.
than flesh as the air element disappears into space,
as the lightness expands into something yet lighter.
Passing beyond dying into death
a sense of boundless expansion,
of unlimited possibility,
continues the inner process.

Dropping our body is like watching an ice cube melt.
We lose our defining shape,
as we return to our fluid center,
and to evaporate into thin air.
Expanding to fill the room invisible and ever-present.
Like the ice cube we go through enormous external changes
but our essence remains unaffected.
What was once the ice cube is still absolutely H2O.
And we are still the immense unnameable.
Dying into death is like that.
Death is another matter altogether.
Life is the grossest form of the death is another matter altogether.
Anyhow, as Ondrea says,
Life is the grossest form of being.

Stephen Levine