Ask: What remains of the specific "me" after death?

“Thanks for this article (On Life After Death and Level Confusion; a very complex subject, but you've provided some clarity. It opens up questions concerning 'reincarnation'. If the micro split-mind (body and personality) dissolves at 'death' then what (if anything) remains of the specific ‘me’ (soul?) that ‘rolls over’ into another worldly experience? Much of what we read on this subject implies that the spiritual ‘progress’ (Undoing/ Healing) we make in this life will lighten the burden in our 'future' lifetimes. On the other hand I've come to understand that there is no 'specific me’, there is no ‘world’...only the Macro split-mind projecting itself as billions of micro-minds. So, when this particular ‘Parenthesis in Eternity’ (J. Goldsmith) closes do we say that only Awareness remains, and it is no longer identified with a specific entity? 

I've always been curious about the difference between the ego saying that if we return to the Mind we will be ‘obliterated’, and the Course saying we ‘disappear into the Heart of God’.  My personal analogy is a drop of water on a dock that someone wipes up with a towel and discards versus someone lifting the drop (individual 'self') and returning it to the Ocean. The Awareness that was the essence of the drop experiences Itself as the All. Does that sound roughly correct? (I'm trying to keep it simple as this could go on and on as an academic exercise)!” – RB

The point I was trying to make with that article was that one reason that beliefs like reincarnation persist is because of level confusion. A micro split-mind’s experience of individuality is confused with the macro split-mind’s projection of billions of individual forms of itself. A seeming-individual ends in the story but the story continues on without it. No part of that seeming-individual “goes on”. It has only one “lifetime”. But the macro split-mind has billions of lifetimes. In other words, there is no re-incarnation just billions of incarnations of the macro split-mind. Some micro split-minds are able to tap into those other micro stories and they feel that they lived them themselves individually but really they just tapped into the macro split-mind. (This is why so many people claim to be the reincarnation of the same famous person).

There is nothing specific about your experience as an individual that goes on after death, in time or into Eternity (Timelessness). That experience is the false that falls away. So there is no “soul” or individual spirit. But there is Something Universal in your mind That is Eternal. The Truth in your mind is completely apart from time and It is universal because the Truth in your mind is the same Truth in every seemingly-individual split-mind. And you don’t have to wait for the death of the self to experience It. You can practice the Holy Instant at any moment and experience Truth now. And when you do, you will never experience time the same way again. This is why the Holy Instant is so central to the practice of A Course in Miracles. And this is why ACIM’s teaching is so radically different from most spiritual teachings. It does not aim you toward the future for relief from the false. It asks you to be open to Truth right now to be relieved right now.

The ego (personal thought system) says that “you” will be obliterated if you return your mind to Truth because it will disappear. The ego speaks only for itself. You feel its fears as your own only as long as you identify with it. In this process of undoing, you will learn that you are mind and that the ego is only a thought system in your mind that tells you, falsely, that the self (body/personality/ego) is you.

Awareness (or consciousness or perception) is the experience of the split-mind (both macro and micro – there’s really no distinction between the two). A split-mind can be aware of either illusion or Truth. The highest level of awareness in ACIM is called Christ Consciousness or the Holy Spirit. In this awareness one is aware that only the Truth is true and recognizes that the universe of form is an illusion. No part of awareness “goes on” to Truth. It is the false experience. But this highest form of awareness is necessary to prepare one for the experience of Truth. When the illusion falls away only Truth is left in a mind and it slips easily from the Awareness of Truth (Christ/ Holy Spirit) to Knowledge of Truth. It’s like the awareness of Truth is seeing Truth through a veil and Knowledge of Truth is when there is no veil. All boundaries are gone. (I’m not sure if this is what you were talking about with “the essence of Awareness”).

Here’s another way to think of it:

Imagine a piece of white paper. This represents the Mind of Truth. (Unlike paper, Truth has no boundaries, but, hey, gotta work with what we got…). Now imagine a circle on the paper. This is the part of the Mind of Truth where the idea of not-Truth occurs. Color in that circle with a pencil. Now the circle represents the split-mind (macro or micro, it doesn’t matter; same thing) because the paper, representing Truth, is still there under the penciling, which represents not-Truth. As you advance in your awareness of Truth, it is like erasing the penciling. More and more of the white paper, Truth, shows through until finally you are left with the white paper both inside and outside the circle. This is the highest awareness a split-mind can have. It knows that only the Truth is true – or only the white paper is true. It’s hardly even split-off anymore so the circle, the boundary, is easily erased (in ACIM  this is described as “God takes the last step” because only God is left in mind and Mind).

So this process of undoing reveals That Which is already right here. There is no “returning” because nothing real “left”. It was just “covered over”. And as each micro split-mind erases the false, that much is erased from the macro split-mind, just as each little erasure reveals the paper beneath the penciling. And, again, this is not done through death. Focusing on what happens when you die (what part of your mind does that, do you think?) can be a way of avoiding being present to Truth.

(The passage you quoted from ACIM, “disappear into the Heart of God” (W-pII. 14.5), is referring to a split-mind in its “purified” – how ACIM describes the “erasing” – state. It refers to the boundary as a “gate” rather than a veil or circle as I did here. ACIM speaks to “you” not as a person but as a split-mind, only the Truth in which is true).

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Jeremy said…
Thanks, Liz. I think this is extremely clear. I very much like your paper analogy. There is no push-back here that the Course's teaching is that that when the personal thought system (ego) is let go, there is no individual experience.

Of course if the macro split mind projects billions of selves first AND THEN those selves are imagined to exist in a world, then, in that case individual selves will still seem to exist even though the body is seen to die. Presumably the macro split mind will once again imagine each apparent individual self to find a new body.

This would entail the possibility that selves might exist across many apparent physical bodies, and we are back to reincarnation. Does your understanding rule out this possibility? and if so, please explain. I am not certain that your explanation rules out this possibility. For myself, I have no desire to live another life, so this idea no longer attracts me, at least in my awareness.

Then also if we assume, as you do (and you believe that ACIM does) that awareness and perception and consciousness (as ACIM speaks of it) are all the same, then clearly there is no experience in Truth, because experience entails awareness. In our worldly experience we imagine that a rock has no awareness and thus has no experience. This is part of the context as to our use of the word experience and awareness. Ken Wapnick's definition of perception in his Glossary-Index certainly does not entail equivalence of awareness and perception.

I am not making any argument here. I tried that in the last posting. I rest that effort. But I am just pointing out the implications that seem logical based on our culture's use of the word 'experience'. Clearly, if there is no awareness, there is no experience. If my logic is off, I stand corrected.

It may be that we cannot even fathom the experience of God. But, oh wait. God does not experience, right? So no need to even begin to fathom.
Jeremy said…
Of course my comments above were not meant to imply that reincarnation would be real, even if the macro split mind (Son of God) imagines it. It would be no more real than this present apparent (but fictitious) life in or as a body in a world.
Unknown said…
For a long time and even before starting to do ACIM I've had this notion regarding reincarnation that it makes no difference to my personal experience here and now whether it's real or not. I am not "aware" of my past life and all that it entailed and cannot with my limited understanding now know if my future self will have any knowledge of "my" existence then. Through my doing the course and numerous Holy instances I've had Self-realization. I've become aware of the Christ mind/One mind, which was an experience of equanimity and "Oneness" with all beings. In fact and I don't believe coincidentally, after having one of these experiences, I opened the book and found myself reading (which felt like for the first time even though I'd read it before several times) the paragraph from Chapter 18-VI "Beyond the Body" which reads:

T-18.VI.11. Everyone has experienced what he would call a sense of being transported beyond himself. 2 This feeling of liberation far exceeds the dream of freedom sometimes hoped for in special relationships. 3 It is a sense of actual escape from limitations. 4 If you will consider what this "transportation" really entails, you will realize that it is a sudden unawareness of the body, and a joining of yourself and something else in which your mind enlarges to encompass it. 5 It becomes part of you, as you unite with it. 6 And both become whole, as neither is perceived as separate. 7 What really happens is that you have given up the illusion of a limited awareness, and lost your fear of union. 8 The love that instantly replaces it extends to what has freed you, and unites with it. 9 And while this lasts you are not uncertain of your Identity, and would not limit It. 10 You have escaped from fear to peace, asking no questions of reality, but merely accepting it. 11 You have accepted this instead of the body, and have let yourself be one with something beyond it, simply by not letting your mind be limited by it.

I believe that once we've "died" we will come into some experience such as this. At this point we will decide along with spiritual guides as none of this is ever done alone, which untrue thoughts are still in need of healing and will set about "scripting" a new life designed to best allow us to transform them through forgiveness.

As we know through the course all unloving thoughts have no foundation in Heaven and are therefore equally untrue. Beyond judgment you will have transcended your awareness of the unloving thoughts you have through existence in this world to the awareness of only the unconditional loving thoughts you would have with God in Oneness.

ACIM Mentor said…
Jeremy, an argument is when you state things to change another's view. It's "I'm right; you're wrong. Here's why..." It's all in the way things are stated and when they are released. For me, when I found incongruities between what ACIM teaches and what someone else teaches, I certainly wanted to argue! But I could see that was my need to be "right". So I brought these incongruities to the HS and this deepened my understanding of ACIM and my own experiences. Sometimes I was shown how I misread something. Other times the incongruity was there and discussing it with the HS helped to clarify and hone my understanding of ACIM and/or my own experiences. I just do not see any point in arguing. I have no need to be right. I will, however, answer truly open questions when someone seeks clarity.

Your argument about the possibility for reincarnation I will not refute. I have only my own experience of both the nothingness of the whole experience of not-Truth and the vision I've been given of not-Truth. And if you (and others, because I've had this argued before) cannot accept it, that is okay with me. I put things out there and what people do with it is between them and the HS.

You are correct that there is no experience in Truth because there is no experience and experiencer. Or maybe it's that they are the same thing so there is nothing to distinguish. But I have yet to find a better word than "experience" to discuss it. It's like the use of the word "I". It doesn't really apply but it's hard to discuss all of this without it.
Jeremy said…
Thank you, Liz. I truly appreciate your responding to my comment and doing do with such honesty, openness and sincerity.

And it seems to me that, in any case, concerning ourselves about this question is a distraction to what we truly want and what you know to be true; reincarnation is not Truth. For my part I want to put the question aside; it holds nothing for me.

And as for my arguments about the terms awareness and experience; I am ready also to put this aside as well. I can see that it is fruitless to ponder intellectually and make philosophical arguments. Nothing comes of it. The Course and your pointers lead in quite a different direction. My resistance to that direction is my resistance to Truth. Putting aside the concern and questions (and arguments!) is part of putting aside the resistance.

Thank you again, Liz.
Anonymous said…
Jeremy, Not so fast my friend. You are not done yet. Your ego is beating you up. Tell it to take a hike.
Anonymous said…
j, your ego has gone from an intellectual attack on you to where it is now, filling you with guilt and shame. It hasn't given ground a inch. it is still in full attack mode. Kick ass my friend.
Anonymous said…
Jeremy, The other side of what you have been writing is there is almost certainly people mulling over the same questions that you were talking about. Putting your thoughts out there opens the lines of communication that some people would normally not be a part of.
Unknown said…
Hi everyONE,

I think, Liz, that this is THE explanation the Course gives - I totally agree...

Love and peace...
hannah said…
thanks jeremy and liz, this has been helpful. i love that last paragraph jeremy, i really relate to reaching into that shift. i think you and i have been putting this whole cycle from point-making or attempting to reach agreement on topics to remembering our actual inner goal into into practise with each other havent we!? i appreciate it a LOT!

liz, i often end up feeling condescending or like a know-it-all or like im proving a point in conversation, which is so disturbing to my peace. i recognise the guilt in my mind around feeling im getting something wrong and being disrespectful of another, but id still love to have open discussions where i still stated my view without feeling the way i described above.. presently the only way i avoid that feeling is when i just listen and discuss the others view without giving my view as well if it differs. youre saying that this difficulty in open conversation will disappear when i truly dont need to be right, right? ;) what im wondering is, how did the need to be right release within your mind? with letting go of codependency and believing in/feeling the need to help? or did it not go til you were no longer strongly identified with a personal self? or just recognising the dynamic and turning back inward to your real goal, as jeremy described? hmm, or did those things all happen together-ish? or am i on the wrong track altogether? talking with jeremy highlighted this within me, and id really like to converse, not preach or condescend in another way by feeling im not participating honestly.

ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, it came in stages over time. First I had a lesson in just listening and drawing the other out and finding that I walked away without feeling "oogie". I was charge-free. But that was just the beginning. Over time I realized no one really cared what I think! No one else really wants a sharing of ideas. They just want to share their opinion and be heard and understood. So I gave them that. By then I'd become suspicious of my need to "be right". I knew when I felt the push to do that. On rare occasion someone will ask a truly open question or truly want my opinion. Then I share it. But otherwise, why bother?

When it came to "helping" others or "fixing" their situation - that took longer because my identity was wrapped up in that and I believed it was my "god-given" role. But in the end it was the same - I realized people just want to be heard and understood so what I was giving wasn't even wanted. I was making it about me when it wasn't about me - not for them, anyway!
hannah said…
liz what is 'oogie'? im wondering if its like my feeling 'floobley' haha! but thank you very much for that answer, its helpful both to areas im 'growing' and to areas im 'ungrowing'. oh, reading 'i was charge free' lightened my heart!

the answer has led to another question as well as things to practise. do you enjoy the sharing of ideas? is it possible that my ideas around enjoying that an ego dynamic to hide the desire to simply be heard myself? there is a blog you wrote where you shared aspects of a discussion with your wife, where it sounded like you were having a deep and enjoyable conversation, yet you didnt need to share all the thoughts you had out of respect for where she was intellectually and emotionally. i imagine enjoyment in that scenario, that sharing of ideas without the urge to change someones mind. i am noticing a loosening around the urge to be right as my own inner conversation grows clearer and calmer.

ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, hmmm, do I like to share ideas? Let's see. I've written how many articles and books? I like discussing ideas with like-minded people. I do not like to try to change someone's mind. And I certainly do not like someone trying to change my mind. But I had to learn how much it bothered me (oogie!) to assert my need to be right. So, yes, if there seems to be a genuine opening I am always gauging where the other is in their process.
hannah said…
haha, yes silly question on my part i see ;) i was worried by that line 'No one else really wants a sharing of ideas. They just want to share their opinion and be heard and understood." in case it meant that personal minds were never about the sharing, as HS is always quiet unless 'needed'.
hannah said…
ah, the need to be right protects against 'being wrong', which feels threatening.. well, that is still strong, then! not so much loosening after all, yet, only just noticing it.

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