People say there is a veil between two worlds; the eternal and the mortal. They call dying “crossing over” to “the other side.” But to me, that would mean that I’m only able to occupy one of those places at a time, and to enter one, I am required to leave the other. That line of thinking says there are two isolated locations separated by a veil or a boundary of some kind. That line of thinking assumes that in order to experience the eternal self, I must first die so I can travel from one place to the other, because I can’t be in both places at once.
I don’t see it that way.
All the World’s a Stage, and All Men and Women Merely Players
In my view, an actor and the character he plays are the same person while on stage–occupying the same time and space simultaneously. But a talented actor sort of “forgets” his true identity while he embodies his character. Like us, we’ve “forgotten” our true eternal identities while dealing with the stressors of our mortal characters’ temporary lives.
Shakespear said “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…” I take that more literally than poetically. When I consider how my eternal self exists with my mortal self, I see the mortal world as a stage. My eternal self is the actor. My mortal self is the character I’m playing.
When Dustin Hoffman was playing Captain Hook in the movie Hook, was he Hoffman, or Captain Hook? The answer: Both. He was both Hoffman and Hook simultaneously. There was no “veil” between Hoffman and Hook. It was only his focus that differentiated the actor from the character during the filming. At the end of the movie, Hook, the character, didn’t know he was going to die under an alligator clock, but Hoffman, the actor, did. Hoffman wasn’t afraid of the clock, because Hoffman knew his life was going to continue on after the play was finished.
Imagine the power we’ll have over our troubled mortal lives when we can feel the experience of being eternal and safe while we’re also experiencing our mortal stressors and disappointments.
Knowing is Not Experiencing
Why do people yearn to travel to places they’ve already seen on TV or in photographs? I’ve never been to Norway’s Fjords, but I’ve seen pictures of them. So, what would compel me to spend thousands of dollars and go through all the trouble of booking flights and hotels to go see something I’ve already seen in inexpensive travel magazines? Answer: Because experiencing a place is not the same as knowing about it. To travel to the Fjords, my entire body would experience the culture, the smells, sounds, sensations of being so far north, surrounded by mountains and waterways. I’d feel the sensations of the trains I’d ride in, and would forever recall the voices of the residents, and the tastes of their meals. The experience of being there in person would change me in ways so much more profoundly than reading about it ever could. I’d live the rest of my life with those experiantial body-memories attached to the knowledge of where I’d been.
After reading this blog post, you will know that I believe there is an eternal you living in the same space as your mortal you. But you won’t have experienced that eternal you until you lay quietly somewhere and feel that eternal peace for yourself, if even for a few precious seconds.
I discovered my eternal self quite by accident during my middle fifties after a stressful day at work. I laid down on the lawn in front of my house and just stopped thinking about my job. The clouds were drifting overhead. They looked like the same clouds that had drifted overhead when I was seven years old. At that moment I realized that as I thought about nothing, I was, again, the exact same person I was when I, the child, lay on the lawn at my parents’ house. At that moment I was not a fifty-something-year-old man with bad knees and graying hair. At that moment, the forty years that had passed since I was a small schoolboy were the blink of an eye, and it didn’t matter that I now had a job and a mortgage and responsibilities. As I lay there beneath the same eternal sky, I understood that I was the very same soul I had been as a boy. It seems I’d taken a short break from playing my character on this temporary mortal stage I’m acting on. For a few moments, I was the eternal actor whose life is always transcending the mortal character I currently play as James Johnson.
For those few moments, watching those clouds, I had no fears or stressors or disappointments. For those few moments I just “was.” I wasn’t reading about my eternal self, nor simply “believing in” my eternal self. For a few moments I was experiencing my eternal self. Experiencing the peace. Feeling the release of stress in my body. The calmness in my chest. A gentle smile graced my face. I was my essence. I was experiencing the eternal actor, who’d taken a much needed break from being my mortal character.
Since then, I’ve learned that I can freely access that eternal self almost any time I want to. As I’ve learned to spend more and more time experiencing the peace and safety of our eternal place, my mortal character loses more and more fear of my mortal concerns.
Imagine being so connected to the experience of being our eternal selves, that we no longer feel the fear of our impending mortal death or suffrage.
The Unexamined Life is Doomed to Repeat its Struggles Until we Face Them
The more often we choose to experience our true, eternal selves, the more we integrate that eternal peace into daily mortal life. Even more importantly: The more connected we are to eternal peace, the less control we give to our repeating cycles of mortal abuse and stress. This is why I believe that the unexamined life is doomed to repeat its struggles until we face them. And now I think we face our mortal struggles each time we spend a few minutes as our eternal selves, remembering that our character is not all that we are.
We are not just our characters. We are also our eternal, quiet, peace-filled selves who lay on the grass watching clouds float by exactly as we’ve done since the day we were born.
If there is any such thing as reincarnation, it will mean that our eternal selves will one day simply accept a new role in a new mortal play for another short moment in eternal time. I don’t know if I believe in reincarnation or not. I don’t really care. If it happens it happens. If it doesn’t it doesn’t. And my belief either way doesn’t change whatever is going to happen.
The more we embody that eternal self, rather than focus only on the character we’re playing for a few short decades, the more eternal peace we’ll bring into our mortal lives of strife and stress.
My commitment to myself is, I want to move farther away from simply knowing (believing) that I’m an eternal being, to living every moment with a greater sense of experiencing that eternal peace within my body and soul, every moment of every day and every night.
Healing Trauma Through Spiritual Connection
I’m a trauma survivor who lives with the residual struggles of Complex-PTSD. All my life I’ve suffered from the abuse I took as a child, and since the year 2000, I have been in healthy treatment for the PTSD that the abuse caused. I’ve come a long way in my healing, but I’ve learned that being a trauma survivor is a permanent condition. Over the past two decades I have benefitted from nearly all the tools available to us as mortal humans to overcome the physiological symptoms of trauma, and yet occasionally I still feel somewhat controlled by Emotional Flashbacks as well as most all other trauma symptoms. Physical treatment has given me great power over PTSD and I’m in pretty good shape these days because of the treatments. Yet I still battle some residual sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, addictive tendencies, and more. I no longer require permanent medications, but every couple of years I do need a little medical help to get through certain bouts with relapse.
I’ve come to believe that the only way for me to accept a deeper level of healing than the mortal world has to offer, is to transcend my shortsighted experience that this mortal world is all there is. I believe that I’ve used all the mortal tools and I still struggle, so I’m advancing my focus to the spiritual. Not to the foolishness of human religion, but to actively experience the quiet reality that my eternal self is, and always has been, and always will be at perfect peace. I focus less on daily trauma-drama and more on that eternal peace. I think I’m on the right track. Each day I feel a bit more changed by my experiences of spending quality time as the eternal me, which is progressively helping me to deal with mortal stressors, including the less curable aspects of PTSD.
Peace is at Hand Now
Peace is not hidden from us behind a veil. Eternity is not lost in a different location that we must have someone help us find. Eternal Peace is at hand, accessible during the quiet moments when we take a conscious break from believing we are trapped in the lives of our mortal characters. We experience our own immortal strength whenever we take a moment to sit off stage, stare up at the clouds that have always floated overhead, and remember that we are not only this mortal character, but we are also the eternal actor who showed up to the stage on the day we were born, and will continue to live on after the play ends. The trick to making this work is to go beyond just knowing about our eternal selves, and to spend a few minutes here and there experiencing our very real eternal nature, which is who we truly are. And doing this as often as we can only brings us progressively closer to the peace that has always been there, always waiting for us to simply focus on it.