Death! Is it the end or is it a new beginning? I talk about reincarnation and resurrection in the same breath. For me, while they are clearly different they are also fundamentally the same. Both are expressions of this divine truth; death is a doorway to a new beginning!
Consider art, great art, be it painting, music or movies, it has the power to move us, that’s what makes it great. It can move us to tears when we are moved emotionally but more than that it can move us to act, to better ourselves and therefore the world. In a way it really doesn’t matter about the quality or quantity of an artist’s work and it doesn’t matter how successful that artist is in financial terms or otherwise. At the end of the day what really matters is what the artist does with his or her work and what the artist wants that work to do! It is not the case for this artist to be content for his work to hang on gallery walls and just be appreciated for work of great beauty, craft or creativity. This artist paints to achieve something different, something more; to open eyes and illuminate the mind!
What is there for which our eyes need to be opened, what is it that the majority of us are currently failing to see? Is it this; that the most important day of our lives, without exception, is the day we die? If it is that, then the greater part of our lives should be spent in preparation for that day. For when we lay upon our death bed, everything we have ever done in our lives will be of no consequence, particularly if we view death as a complete and irreversible end to our existence. But what if death is not the end or rather what if the end we call death is also the beginning of a new stage in life?
Every end is a new beginning
Reincarnation is an integral part of the Hindu belief system. Resurrection is fundamental to the Christian belief system. In Hinduism it is believed that the spirit continues after the death of the body and is reicarnated in another body (broadly speaking). The Christian believes in the resurrection of the body once and for all to live for eternity with Christ. The important thing about reincarnation is not the continual cycle of death and rebirth but the cessation of that cycle which is achieved through enlightenment. It is in this sense of bringing about an everlasting change to the current reality that it is the same as resurrection. Both belief systems talk of death as being the opportunity to transcend this bodily reality for a different (albeit unknown) higher reality. In both cases death is not the end but the doorway to a new beginning.
Whether death of the body is a complete and utter end to existence or a doorway to new existence it doesn’t change the fact that the day of our death, or the last day of our life, is the most important day that we will experience in this present bodily existence. Imagine what it will be like when you know your life is about to end, imagine how you will feel! You will probably be suffering greatly, you may experience a lot of physical and emotional pain. How great will your levels of anxiety be as you gasp for breath through failing lungs? You may think of your loved ones, the family and friends you will never see again but apart from that, all the things you have accumulated and achieved in your life will be of no consequence to you at all. The only thing that really matters is your very life, over which you have no power to hold onto, try as you might. It is this final and ultimate struggle of life and death that makes this the most important day of your existence.
The more we try to hold onto our life the more pain we experience
What if you knew that bodily death, as unavoidable as it is, was not a final end to your existence? Would it make that last day any different? It wouldn’t make it any less important but it might make it far less painful even joyous, to know a new beginning is at hand. And what if, by the time of your departing from this life, you had more than just belief to comfort you on that day? What if you had in some way already experienced a form of dying and resurrection? What if you had experienced enlightenment during your life and you were confident that the cycle of suffering would never be repeated? How would this affect you at the time of your death? Could you view death in any other way but as a doorway to a new and different level of existence?
If I can achieve one thing with my art it would be this; to follow in the footsteps of the great religious masters of the past and deliver their message of hope. To open the eyes of all that think of themselves as nothing more than their mortal body. To help them see they are part of an eternal process without beginning or end. To convince people they have a choice, or rather, their choices in life will impact on what happens to them at their death. To show people that through belief, action and experience, death can be transformed from an end into a beginning, and the body can transcend this current reality to exist in a new reality. To help people understand, that at the time of death the body can be likened to a seed planted in the ground and religious teachings (that bring forth belief and experience) are like the sun and the rain.
My art must act as a doorway to the religious experience required for the seed of life to unfold and bloom now and everafter
Footnote 03.08.2021 - Just viewed this amazing talk which made me think!