The following essay first appeared in Miracles Magazine Vol.14~No.2~Issue 80~March – April 2015
Marguerite Duras, the French writer and film director, was an alcoholic. She traveled back and forth between home and a rehabilitation center. She wrote of those days, which made up most of the days in her life: “Every morning I have to decide if I drink today or not. It means I have to decide every morning if I want to die or I want to live on that day.”
Me, too. I ask myself many times per day if I want to see vision with Holy Spirit or continue to perceive ego’s guilty thoughts. It means I need to decide if I want to be alive or want to be dead.
Since 1994, the year I met A Course in Miracles, I have witnessed many people who are taking off the shell called body and flying freely as spirit. Several years ago, one Course student I knew was facing her last stage of cancer. She was only in her 30’s, a prominent visual artist and a writer. The beauty of her shining eyes, her smooth and white skin, her elegant hands remained. But her body was wasting away. Her height was much reduced. Her spine was bent. She breathed only with much effort. She was constantly in pain and could barely move anymore. A few months before, she decided to write her ”last words,” but found she could no longer type or grip a pen.
I commuted to her bedside every few days. Kneeling down, bending my upper body, and bringing my ear to her lips, I tried to listen to her.
“Well, but there is still a body, isn’t there?” she whispered to me over and over again with shallow breaths. “Whenever I fall asleep, I wish I will die while sleeping.” Yet, her mind would will more and more words through that tiny cracking voice. “But unluckily I wake up. I find my body. So painful to have a body. Even just lying down, very painful. I need to breathe because my body is still here.” She was using an oxygen tube and each breath looked very hard.
The main reason she asked me to come to see her is that she had thought that since I was a miracle worker, I could help her to take off her body as soon as possible.
“Please give me a healing. I want to die now. You can let me go, can’t you?”
The days I didn’t see her were busy with work and deadlines but my mind clung to my memory of the great effort with which she drew each breath. For her, each breath may have had an almost eternal length. It might have seemed like eternal suffering. I tried to receive eternal breathing like her, asking Holy Spirit to replace her eternal suffering with eternal joy.
When I was with her, I would say, “You don’t need to breathe. God is breathing. When He exhales, His breath is coming to you directly. Let’s feel His breath together. See, gentle love is coming and filling us. And now God inhales, His breath is slowly going out with our gratitude.”
I really had to remember this God’s breathing all the time. If I forgot I would start to breathe by myself and return to ego’s world. My consciousness would busy itself with planning and problem solving, and wander far away from her. I would be ashamed to look her in the face.
I knew when she repeated, “let me die,” her real meaning was, Find me! Teach me I am not a being who must suffer. Show me the pain and suffering are not me. Tell me the reason why you and I met each other. These questions are actually for you, Yasuko.
So I couldn’t stop wanting to know her from the very bottom of my heart. I longed to answer her questions and share with her that it was not we who breathe. We don’t even need to breathe. More than just connecting us, this universal breathing reminds us that we are one being and we are at home in God’s breath. Breathing is only a metaphor, but it is one of the best bridges between duality and oneness. By finding her and myself in God’s breath together, we experienced our unity of spirit, and I could ask, “Please teach me who you are. Please give me the reason why she is here with me.”
While asking like this, we could deny the body’s stories — her story, my story, the story of a victim attacked by fantasies, by dreams, by sickness and illusions we had made, by doubts and guilt. Opening to the Holy Spirit, we became witnesses of Vision instead. She would say suddenly, “I know I am already free.” Or, “I will be free and happy for ever. Please tell people and T [her boyfriend] not to be sad nor keep pain after they lose me in body.” Those were her last words to me.
I am still sustained by the teaching of her last several years. I cannot forget her last words. I cannot forget the connection with her through God’s breathing, in perfect communication with Spirit.
Now, I see and remember Yuko (her name) in everyone. I am asking everyday, “Please help me to remember who he/she is. Please give me a vision that enables me to know him/her” in order to accept my given life, and deny the illusion of death.
When she finally transformed, we had a Tibetan style of funeral. There her spirit took my hand and showed me the landscape of her new trip. It was only for a few minutes, but I definitely sensed Love’s presence. It was an unforgettable experience to me, but it is another story.