I participated in a thoughtful gathering to remember the dead on Saturday. We lit candles, shared music and food. The room began to warm with the presence of the dead souls. After about 20 minutes of listening to others speak about “their” dead, I was finding so many souls who had left this life (some of them long ago) lighting up in my heart – lighting their candles, singing their songs, nourishing their hearts. It was a lovely love feast with the dead and the living. It inspired this post and has deeply enriched the session on the dead and the unborn in the Inner Year course, Engaging Your Spiritual Companions.

When you think of the souls across the threshold of death, what are you doing? I know it is a strange question, but I really am serious. What are you doing? Remembering or engaging?

Remembering with sentiment or resentment, grief or relief? Pulling up or pulling out memories, stories, sensations containing pictures of those who have ceased their earthly life – the deceased. You can sense how they were – the color of their eyes, sound of their voice, warmth of their skin. These are the souls that you share an intimate relationship with.

Do you reflect on their moral development – how their thinking matured and opened up to new perspectives, how their feelings became more expressive and caring, or how their deeds bore a moral gesture living in their inner evolution and impacting the lives of those around them.

Did they die filled and embalmed with more humanity, more freedom and more love? Did they know the kingdom, power, and glory of their spirit, their own kernel of the Divine?

Do you realize how much they come “alive” and engage with you when you meet them with more than your missing them.

Are you mourning or celebrating their life? And what are your feelings and how do your feelings intensify or obscure the memories and your awareness of them as individuals in their lifetime?

Engaging WITH the Dead

Beyond the memories and the feelings, do you have a sense of their non-corporeal presence in your life right now? Do they want to engage with you? Do they need your help or offer their help? Do you hear inner whispers of guidance or questioning? What questions do you bring to them?

If you light an inner candle, do you light it in your thinking, your feeling or your will? It is the inner candles they love to see, that lights their way back to your soul. Actually it is the way forward!

The dead are our ever-present companions, they are eager to engage with each of us. Parents with young children, who are so often kept in the dark by our sense that death is scary to the young, would be wise to speak about this connection. Children, so close to the spiritual world they have just left, feel joy when their parents celebrate their experiences with spiritual companions, their imaginary friends.

A brief note on the earthly substitutes…

I just read an article on the almost obsessive “fandom” around cultural creations like Harry Potter and Star Wars and other substitute realities. This is the longing for our spiritual companions and spiritual realities many feel deeply, but can’t find or believe in using traditional religious dogmas. Do they turn to the fantastic, idol worship, costumes, and autographs because their religious education failed to give them a connection and engagement with angels, nature spirits, their long dead, but so wise, ancestor (their very own Obi Wan Kenobi)?

Your Questions

How do you feel about the presence of the dead?
Do you have any spiritual or contemplative practices that engage the dead?
Are you grieving for a loved one that has left the land of the visible?

Please leave your comments below. And consider the course, Engage Your Spiritual Companions. It will be available for downloading by November 10th.

For my friends in the Southern Hemisphere.

It’s Spring, not Autumn, a season of lambs, baby birds, bursting blooms – life seems about welcoming, not remembering. It’s is still the time the soul celebrates all other souls, especially those not living. Please turn your spring-inspired thoughts and feelings to those on the other side of the threshold of birth – bring your devoted will to engaging those who have committed to another lifetime and are preparing for their conception, gestation, birth and new lifetime.

We don’t know what they will look like. We can’t remember them as a physical presence, but we can imagine their moral presence. We can welcome with warmth their willingness to take on the suffering of resolving karma and greet their courage to fulfill their earthly deeds of destiny. This is not about anticipating a cuddly little innocent babe, but of holding a sense of the “I” that will impact the future of humanity. Engage the unborn in your sunny soul.