What is Death? – by Karen Berg-Raftakis

What is Death? – by Karen Berg-Raftakis

A week ago my father died. It happened suddenly, so most of my family were not only experiencing grief, but shock. I felt these emotions myself a couple of times during the first few days and some tears were shed. However, soon afterwards, I felt nothing but gladness, joy and peace. I was able to write my dad’s obituary and his eulogy within the first few days of his passing without sadness or grief interfering at all.

It was not anything I had to think about intellectually. It had nothing to do with the mind. I did not consciously think, “Well, A Course in Miracles says there is no death, so therefore there is no need for me to wallow in grief. No, instead, it was purely a feeling from the heart. It was as if something deep inside me knew this whole death, grief, mourning thing was a huge charade. I wondered though how I would explain that to the family and friends at my father’s memorial service who were expecting me to be overcome with sorrow. So, I told them what I believed most people could relate to and accept, merely that I knew he was in a “better place” and was no longer suffering.

I gave my dad’s eulogy without crying, or even feeling like I was on the verge of breaking down at all. Afterwards, many people approached me with a mixture of shock and awe. They asked me, “How were you able to do that without breaking down?”, or they told me, “Wow, you’re so brave, I could never have done that.” In actuality though, I was not courageous in any respect, nor was I putting on a brave front. In reality, I merely knew the Truth.

Most people, I’ve observed, are terrified of death. In their minds death is the end of everything, and every wake/funeral/memorial service is just another reminder of their own mortality. We know that most people really cannot accept the fact that this world is temporal and fleeting, and they are scared shitless when death touches their lives. They sink into incapacitating depression and grief, forsaking all the world, wondering how life could possibly go on when their parent/sibling/ (fill in the blank) is no longer here. Even for those who have Christian backgrounds and do believe in some sort of afterlife, most of them are still operating from a fear-based mentality in regards to death.

You know, most people I know who practice the tenets of A Course in Miracles cite the ACIM Workbook as their favorite book. Mine; however, has always been the Teacher’s Manual, and in Section 27 of the ACIM Teacher’s Manual (original edition) “What Is Death?” it states:

Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem… It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die… In this perception of the universe as God created it, it would be impossible to think of Him as loving. For who has decreed that all things pass away, ending in dust and disappointment and despair, can but be feared. He holds your little life in his hand but by a thread, ready to break it off without regret or care, perhaps today. Or if he waits, yet is the ending certain.

Who loves such a god knows not of love, because he has denied that life is real… Where there is death is peace impossible. Death is the symbol of the fear of God. His Love is blotted out in the idea, which holds it from awareness like a shield held up to obscure the sun… No compromise in this is possible. There is either a god of fear or One of Love… He did not make death because He did not make fear. Both are equally meaningless to Him. The “reality” of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s Son is a body. And if God created bodies, death would indeed be real. But God would not be loving.

Isn’t this true? Death of a loved one, or even the contemplation of the death of a loved one, fills us with so much anxiety because we are left feeling helpless, without even a semblance of control. When face-to-face with death, even those who believe in a loving god reconcile themselves to the false notion that God is a wrathful, selfish god. You know, the whole, “For the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away” mentality. Let’s continue on though and see what else Jesus has to say:

The inconsistencies, the compromises and the rituals the world fosters in its vain attempts to cling to death and yet to think love real are mindless magic, ineffectual and meaningless. God is, and in Him all created things must be eternal…

Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which death plays a part… What seems to die has but been misperceived and carried to illusion. Now it becomes your task to let the illusion be carried to the truth. Be steadfast but in this; be not deceived by the “reality” of any changing form. Truth neither moves nor wavers nor sinks down to death and dissolution.

This is exactly what I had felt in my heart before, during, and after my father’s memorial service. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that, as a Teacher of God, it behooves me to remind everyone that there is no death. Therefore, do not grieve, but instead rejoice, for all is well!

~ Karen Berg-Raftakis

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