Wake Up Before You Die
Channel: Hamza Yusuf
File Size: 21.05MB
titled that is because I think that in many ways the the idea of code.
Code is a very interesting concept that the person is actually given the choice on admission into a hospital, whether it was kind of a code status or status. And
I think a lot of that stems the dynamics of the decision will often stem from preparedness for death. And in many ways, I think that this culture is grossly underprepared for that final act that all of us will take. The Koran literally says that every soul is tasting death. So that we are by our nature, really Deaf tasters. And this is unfortunately kind of something we're still eating.
ruin your appetites. But and that's another interesting point is, is the way that we look at death, that it's an unpleasant topic that a lot of us don't like to speak about death. But
I think there are very specific reasons, and I don't want to dwell on it for too long of why this culture has become the death denying culture. I don't think that was always the case. But I also say that within awareness that the fear of death is a universal fear. And certainly we have traces in all our historical traditions of this fear of death.
In reality, it's actually a necessity, to have some fear that if we did not have any fear of death, we would be literally in a very precarious situation, you would not look both ways when we walk across the street. And that would eventuate in Autodesk quite quickly. So the idea of a fear of death is actually a necessity. But also, the idea of overcoming that fear in a positive way is a necessity in order to prepare for death.
If we look at the conditions, the present condition of human societies, it's been turned to the postmodern period by philosophers and the idea there is that there's no longer a grand narrative, they're no longer a meta narrative by which we can live our lives. That prior to this period of time, people believed in some cosmological explanation of the universe, they had a cosmology, which they could live believing in. And like Nietzsche said, the German philosopher said, if people have a why they can endure any type of how, in other words, that when people have a purpose for existence, the pain and suffering that goes along with human existence is bearable, but when they lose that
purpose, the purpose of existence that pain and suffering becomes unbearable. And in many ways, I think that this is an essential point to understand, when we look at the extraordinary consumption of tranquilizers in our culture, of alcohol of ways are literally doing and suppressing the pain and suffering that people experience with daily existence. And ultimately, coming to terms with death is part of overcoming
this pathological obsession with the pain and suffering that goes along with human existence. So in this postmodern world, what has happened is the scientific worldview, in a sense, has failed us. And this has been articulated by and hasn't been for some time by philosophers on the continent in the United States. And we really see it in many ways in the great failures of the rational period, the period of enlightenment, the promise of a human society, in which rationalism in which technology will solve our problems, and would give us a reason and a purpose for continuing working towards this great utopian society that will come into existence at some future date. And this century alone
has been called a century of mega death. Over 180 million people have died at the hands of technological disruption in warfare in this century alone, which is a much greater number than all of the peoples that have died in previous wars prior to this century. And so literally, like de Chardin, the Christian
philosopher said that the the fundamental question that all of us must answer, in order to continue as a species is literally a choice between suicide or between adoration. And what you meant by that is either we give up
the admiration which is inherent in the human nature to adore, or we literally commit suicide, either by
technological means or by other means.
One or the article basically said that the world ends when its metaphor has died, and age becomes an age although decide when centralist poets, in their pride, invent emblems for the souls consent, that speak the meanings men will never know that men imagine.
images can show in parishes with those images, those seem no longer mean. And what he's saying here basically is that people have a purpose he uses the idea of poetic giving meaning to a culture in metaphors. And I would say that we can extend that also to the religious phenomenon that has existed in human species since recorded history survey, and by all
intents and purposes prior to that, that people have sensed a meaning of life. And when those meanings literally disappear when the metaphors are no longer applicable, then we enter into a crisis and the crisis marraige has been termed neoliberal nihilism, which is the idea that we are in a meaningless universe. George Bernard Shaw, wrote that the Darwinian process may be described as a chapter of accidents, there is a hideous fatalism a valid if it be a truth of science. In other words, if the idea that everything exists because of chance,
without purpose, if this is a scientific fact that the stars and Kevin the showers of do and winter and summer, the fire and the mountain hills may no longer be called to Exalt the LORD with us by phrase. Their work is to modify all things by buying the starving and murdering everything that is not lucky enough to survive the universal struggle for hogwash.
And again, what he is really saying there, it is meaningless. And ultimately, this is survival of the fittest, that whoever wins, and ultimately what they win is meaningless. Also.
The religious vision is extremely
incredible departure from this idea. And I know that many of the people here are scientists are men of science, science, people that have studied the scientific worldview. And I don't know how many in the room are content with the scientific worldview as an ultimate answer, because I think part of the problem with modern science is that it deals with the house of existence, but it never deals with the whys. It tells us how things happen. It tells us how things come about either through wonderful theories or empirical observation of facts collated by scientists, that are that are then placed into worldviews scientific paradigms, and the paradigms will hold as long as the theory is
not supplanted by another theory that better explains the facts. So all of us as people that have either studied extensively or in a limited sense science, all of us particularly in the West have in some way. lace, a
absoluteness in science in modern science, in the same way that people prior to this civilization plays an absoluteness in the ology in the religious worldview. Now, for many people, the scientific worldview is because of its obsession with how and it's really lack of emphasis of why is really a not a fulfilling worldview. It does not give us a sustenance whereby we can live our lives with meaning and purpose. Now there are different ways of dealing with that, that this emptiness or this vacuum that exists. I think one of the most common ways is literally choosing to die before our our bodily death. And that is what's been termed a psychological death.
illusion looking at dying and the idea of dying, we can see basically that there are five reasons why people really have an intense fear of death.
Fear of pain
Certainly consideration. And you can see this in people that are working with people in pain that they really want to be alleviated of their pain. Now we're looking at a bodily level, but also there's a emotional pain that's connected with death and dying, the idea of fear of loss, that there is a separation and separation is a pain, we can see it in children, when they're separated from the mother, there's an experience of pain, they'll often cry, that is a very real pain for the child. There's also a fear of meaninglessness, that the idea of death that if we die, that we no longer have purpose, we no longer have meaning, we are not loved anymore. And this in a sense can bring
about a feeling of failure. The also the idea of the fear of the unknown, that death, although we see it constantly, it literally surrounds us in our lives, either in an immediate sense, with the death of closest people to us, or in a distant sense, but death really surrounds us in nature and in our own selves. And then finally, the idea of fear of non being the idea that we will ultimately not exist, that this is very frightening for people.
You can get a lot of the philosophical problems of life, answered.
This one, here is good grief trapped in a doghouse by icicle I'll bet if I make this the slightest movement will crash down and kills me. I don't want to die, I'm too young to die, I'm too nice to die. I'm too me to die. In other words, the death of the ego, the idea that this this formulation of who we are. I'm Dr. Stone, so I'm a professor so and so I'm the wife of Solomon's
attachment to who we are in something that really alternately has no permanency whatsoever. And the most the finest example I can see of it, is Alzheimer's disease is literally when the consciousness is the face from the internet, when a person literally no longer has any awareness in a conscious way of who he was, of who his loved ones are.
Tragic disease, but ultimately are a beautiful metaphor also for the nature of ego and the nature of consciousness. So
these are just some examples of the really the idea of
death denial in our culture, just euphemisms we use for death kick the bucket. Second, ways to check down eternal rest laid to rest pushing up daisies was a goner withered away in the arms of the father gave it out it was curtains, resting in peace, all of these ways in which we euphemistically describe
dad death. The word is almost literally not brought up in polite company. And when we speak about death, when we speak about people that die, we tend to use these euphemisms, we don't like to really just look at the bare bones of the math, just look at the fact that somebody has died. And so they're
looking at these the idea of physical death. According to the harvard medical schools, I think these are the guidelines that are being asked about actually what determines death, and fascinating for me in the hospitals that doctors, nurses can't really say whether patients dead or not, and get a doctor to come in and declare death. And the idea that death is a death of brain activity. We do check the brainwaves if they're no longer there, the heart and blood the circulatory system, that the heart to stop
the nervous system that we don't get any reflexive responses from the individual, and then the depth of the breath, the lungs, there's no longer any breath. Now if we look at psychological depth, I think that there's a definite correlation here. If we look at the depth of brainwaves, psychologically This is what can be termed as cognitive depth, that people live through the die. They stop thinking like dead at 25, buried at 75. And there are a lot of people that literally choose to stop thinking
in their lives to stop reflecting. Now I personally think part of the problem of modern society is that we are overdose with reality.
TS Eliot said that human beings cannot take too much of reality, in something that literally overwhelms us. And one of the ways of dealing with this overdose of reality is literally to die a psychological death to become numb to the experience of life. When we are literally living in a country where some of us are enjoying extraordinary fruits, the quote unquote, American dream, and yet we see on the new areas of the earth that are literally ravaged by war, by hunger and poverty, by suffering that is, is really beyond our imagination at this point in time, and less, we've been in that situation. So to watch that on television, to see this day in and day out, to recognize that
while some of us live in wonderful environments, there are others that did, and really close to us. Not that far away, that that is a very numbing experience for many people. And so they choose to move into a psychological debt. The next one, the heart, and blood is a type of emotional death, where people become dead to their emotions, they have no awareness of their feelings, they lose touch with how they are experiencing life. And this happens in human relationships between males and females, a man and a wife that really dying to each other, there is an emotional depth, and there can be a cognitive depth. And then the the depth of the nervous system, psychologically is the
volitional depth when we literally move into the routinization, for function and performance of our lives, where we are literally and this is sometimes termed as burnout, which is particularly high in the in the healthcare profession, that people literally become burned out, they go through the motions, whatever that fire was, that initiated, their their journey, in the beginning, is now quite literally burnt out. And they no longer have that flame that keeps them going, that keeps them moving. And then finally, the breath in the lungs is,
is psychologically the intuitive process, that we no longer have insight. We no longer literally perceive,
what is the meaning of events, what is the meaning of our lives? What do these things mean, in the context of life itself. Now, you can see also include losses, stages, that the first one is similar to bargaining.
And then the second is to add your third depression for now, that is not her, her stages go on to the first to use the denial, and then anger, and then depression, and then bargaining and then acceptance. And bargaining is a fascinating
attempt that people like the man who was
literally being pulled out by the tide, and he said, Oh, God, please, if you just send me a wave of dedicate my whole life to you, and a way of getting closer to the shore, he says, I'll dedicate half an hour. And then it gets a little closer, he says, one third. And by the time we get back to the shore, he decides he's going to put some charity into the box on Sunday. So we do really bargain constantly, in a sense, whether we believe in God or not, I mean, people do bargain. There are many psychological bargains going on the idea of denial, which is really what what is so fascinating about the human species that despite the fact that death surrounds us, we do remain in a state of
the next one.
This is another way of looking at brain thinking hard feelings, central nervous system, sensation and breath, intuition, and then the next one.
Now, this is the death that I think is fascinating.
And this is the death that every single spiritual tradition, whether it be Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, in its in its more mystical traditions, Judaism, and Islam, and which is what I've tried to emphasize
is the spiritual death. The idea of the spiritual death is literally coming to terms with the fact that we are mortal, that we are ephemeral creatures that we will die and to recognize that our suffering is bad.
To this artificial sense of who we are our attachment to the ego itself. If you look in the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha said, his first truth was that the world was suffering. His second truth was that the cause of suffering was a desire. And what he meant there was that literally the cause of the suffering that exists in the world is our attachment to the world, our attachment to the idea of the self, to the idea of fame, to the idea of power to the idea of all of these things.
In the Islamic tradition,
the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said
that human beings are asleep. And when they die, they wake up. And he said, died before he died. And you will find this tradition, this in many different spiritual traditions. The idea of dying before you die is dying, this the death of meaning before the death of sensory comes to you.
One of the Persian poets showed a study
if you wish to understand this meaning, and what he's talking about, is really
reflect on how existence is both death and life. Everything in the cosmos terrestrial and celestial has an example which is visible in your body and spirit, the cosmos like you is a specific person, you are as a spirit to it, and it is your body. man dies in three different ways. The first death occurs in every breath, because of his nature. And really this is, this is the idea of death and regeneration is taking place in our bottoms. And as people that have studied anatomy and physiology, we recognize that death is literally taking place cells are dying constantly in the body, and being reborn and partaking in breath is literally for the regeneration of the cells themselves. So there
is death and rebirth in every instance.
So this is the first death. The second death is the death of choice, which is the spiritual death. The third is the death which is inevitable for him. Since death and life are opposites. His life is a three times and three degrees. The Cosmos has no death by choice, as you alone of all creation possess this. What
the German philosopher Heidegger said was that
everything perishes, but only the human being alone has demise. In other words, that we are literally the only creature that has a death that is conscious that we are literally consciously aware of the act of dying. And the spiritual death is literally using exercise, death exercises to arrive at a state of the death of the self. If you look at for instance, in the Islamic tradition, the hottest the pilgrimage that Muslims make, and are encouraged to make as soon as possible, the Hajj is literally a dress rehearsal for death.
The person takes care of all their debts, all of their worldly responsibilities, writes their will, if they haven't done it prior to that says goodbye to their friends, as if they don't expect to come back goes to Mecca,
circumnavigated circumambulate, the house there which is an empty square, in literally the garden that they will be buried in, in a death garden, a white cloth that has no threads in it, and has no distinction of personality or fame. Everybody is equalized during this pilgrimage. And then they move between two places literally running back and forth which is symbolic of our state in the world of moving back in a state of confusion and the phenomenology of the heart, is to stand on what's known as the plane of gnosis or knowledge, to stand as if you are standing on the Day of Resurrection. This is a spiritual exercise to come to terms with our death. When the person comes
back, they should have come back as if they have died. In other words, they are literally ready to go back to their board. And so this idea of death acceptance, which really is in every tradition,
We find this in all of the traditions, but the in the Islamic tradition, the peace be upon him, said make mention of death at least 20 times in a day. His idea there is not to become more fixated on death. The idea is not to become to wear black, and to literally become somebody that is obsessed with the ultimate reality of death. No, it is to be literally liberation, from the chains of psychological depth, from the change of the routinization of the world, so that life, literally the economy, the experience of the moment, if you literally leave your house, not expecting to return in the evening, how will you leave your spouse? How will you leave your children,
if with each meeting, when you depart with a recognition of death, how will that departure be, the intensity of life will be so enhanced, that literally you will begin to become alive. And that is why the spiritual death is literally the rebirth of the soul, in the same way that the physical death is the rebirth of the soul, the spiritual death in this world, the death acceptance that takes place becomes an opportunity whereby life becomes meaningful in each moment. And this is a challenge. It's not something that
that is easily acquired. And I don't think it's something that can be artificially,
artificially created is literally a very real cognitive experience of the temporality of death. In the in the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha said that the most important meditation is the meditation of death. And in the in that tradition, the only
permission that was given traditionally by a Japanese Zen masters, to meditate without permission, was the meditation of death, and of compassion. And ultimately, when you begin to accept death, compassion becomes increased compassion towards our fellow human being becomes increased.
This is from a physicist who talked about the the order
in existence, and he looked at it from a physical perspective of the idea of this pulsation that begins. And it's very interesting that as it moves out, the waves get bigger, and ultimately end up in what we call explicate order, which is the the world of the scene of human beings of all of this matter that we see formulated. And yet physicists tell us that it's really this is not it's it's real essence, that it's really actually energy moving at incredibly high speeds, but somehow brought together because of the density of the field.
As you move down, what's fascinating is in physics, the power increases as the wave, the peak and the trough of the wave in quantum mechanics becomes smaller power literally increases, but at a certain point, the wave has to stop. At a certain point. There's nothing beyond that.
In other words, there's nothing physical. And this
is only at that point, you arrive to an area of speculation. What is the source of the emanation? Where is this coming from? What is the source of the emanation? Why is there a beating and not non va? Why are we here, as opposed to not being here? And this is the question
that must be asked ultimately, in order to come to terms with our analogy with our own deaths. And I think as people as physicians and people working with people that are literally although in reality, the Orion says that God is closer to you than your genuine thing. It actually sees your carotid artery is transmitted.
That God is closer to you than your carotid artery. The idea that God is closer to us than our our, our own source of consciousness, which is the flow of the blood to the brain. If that's not then consciousness stops. So this near this of God is almost
So a narrative of our own death, the Mohammed said that death is closer to you than the strap on your sample. That is literally part of our being and coming to terms with that reality, that we are finite creatures is coming to terms with the most essential and important question that we are confronted with as human beings, which is why are we here and ultimately, there are two choices, that this is random, that is meaningless, or that no, there is purpose in existence. And this is a this is a problematic question in the 20th century, moving on to the 21st century. For many people, this is problematic. And there are many very strong and valid reasons for the difficulty of this.
And this is the choice that we made of whether we accept a universal purpose of meaning. If we do that death has meaning death is not meaningless. There is no arbitrariness in existence, there is no chance
that God does not play dice with the universe.
This is from a is an account of creation.
It says all human time, if you have doubt about the resurrection, that you will be brought forward that you will literally be recreated. If you have doubt about the resurrection, consider that we create a new out of depths. Then, in other words, the human being that lives in comes from the earth, it says it'll be brought forth from the earth using words like vegetation, the human being comes and we have all of the constituents that exist in earth also within our own bodies, the sodium, the potassium,
the zinc and the trace metals,
out of dust then out of sperm.
And then out of a leech line plot. And the word in Arabic for the plot is Allah, which means a lump that plate which is when there's insemination of the sperm with your
God, it literally clings to the womb, like the leech claims to the side of the wall that has been prepared
by the woman through the cycle,
then out of a morsel of flesh, which is which it literally means, like a morsel. In other words, that at a certain point, when the spinal cord begins to differentiate, if you look under a microscope at a fetus, it literally looks like a piece of glass and Dr. Keith Moore, whose textbook is used in several universities in embryology makes mention of the current version of that it is actually an extremely exact description of what's taking place in a microscopic level, in the womb.
Partly formed and partly unformed. Because we see as the fetus begins to differentiate, there are areas that are formed in areas that are unformed in order that we may manifest our power to you and our is a is similar to the Royal week in English.
And we cause when we will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do we bring out as babes that foster you that you may reach your age of full strength, and some of you are called to die before that, and some are sent back to the fetus of old age where you live, they go back to the childlike state, and in our culture, literally wearing diapers, having no cognitive awareness becoming like a child, so that they know nothing after having known much. And this is all to indicate the power of the Creator that no matter how marvelous we become as intellectuals, as scientists, as people have thought, we will ultimately be reduced to deaths. And this is perhaps the
aspect of human existence that we can reflect on.
The idea of accepting death and its importance.
The some of the wonderful
poets who were men and women have deep knowledge and reflection, have described death. One Persian poet says, our death is our wedding with eternity
The depth literally is a wedding with eternity. What is the secret? God is One, the sun divides itself, stringing through the different openings of the house. But when these openings are closed, multiplicity vanishes. And what are you saying there, he's using the sun as a metaphor to describe Divine unity. And this goes back to that earlier frame about this, where are these waves emanating from, the waves are not the source in the same way that the photon is not the sun.
The light particle, the light wave is not the sun, and yet it emanates from the sun. And just as the sun is a unified sphere, these parts that differentiate from the sun, when the door is closed, multiplicity vanishes. In other words, when the doors closed, and the light of the sun is gone, we return back to that darkness, which is symbolic of unity. And what he's saying there is that when death comes, then we recognize the truth of God is wanting,
and really every tradition, and even the Hindu tradition itself
as an understanding of the Divine, every single tradition, whether you look at Buddhism and Judaism, Christianity, at
Taoism, there is an understanding of the underlying unity, which is the substrata. And that's a bad word, but is literally is the basis by which existence can come about the multiplicity of existence. There's an interesting philosopher, named father, who's a German, who wrote a book in which he actually was the first one to use the idea of God is dead. And what he meant by that, prior to meet it, what he meant by that was something very different from what it became to us. He meant literally, that as long as we exist in the world of multiplicity, God is dead to us. And God only becomes alive experientially, when we recognize that the Divine unity is truth, and multiplicity
is only a temporary experience. And so this is what he's talking about. Dying literally is a wedding with eternity. In another poem, he says,
He says, everything you see has its roots in the unseen world, in the same way that you can see a tree over the earth.
By knowledge and reflection, we know that that tree ultimately has roots. What he's indicating here is that when we see phenomenal existence, if more people have discernment, than we must recognize that there's an unseen source from it. And to say that it's the quantum world is still limiting us to a physical reality. The floors may change, yet the essence remains the same. Every wonderful sight will vanish. Every sweet word will fade, but do not be disheartened.
All of the lights of the world experience they'll all go, but do not be disheartened. The source they come from is eternal, branching out, giving new life and new joy. Why do you keep
the source is within you, you can know this reality.
And this whole world is springing up from it, the sources full and its waters are ever flown. Do not green, drink your fill, do not think it will ever run dry. This is the endless ocean. From the moment you came into this world. A ladder was placed in front of you, that you might transcend the world itself. from earth you became plants from land and became animal afterwards you became a human being endowed with knowledge, intellect and faith. Behold, the body born of dust, how perfect it has become. Why should you
When were you ever made less by dieting. When you pass beyond this human form, no doubt, you will become a spirit and soar through the heavens. But don't stop there. Even heavenly bodies grow old pass again from the heavenly realm and plunge into the vast ocean of consciousness that the drop of water that is you become 100 mighty.
Remind human beings constantly read
And it's wonderfully
there's this constant return to this theme of the returning to God, to God.
every religious tradition teaches, is the idea of surrender, or submission. And this is the meaning of this is to submit, just
to come to terms with your finality, to recognize that you are responsible human beings, that there is a urgency and a sense of responsibility.
Coming to terms with this,
I'm going to end this with a phone, which is the funeral
of the same man.
And he said it right before he died, his son who was a scholar in his own right, go to your pillow and sleep, my son, leave me alone, the passion of this death, that the middle term with your
stay clear, don't fall into the river with me. There's no way out no chore. But
last night, in a dream, I saw an old man standing in a garden, it was all alone. He held out his hand and said, Come toward me. If there is a dragon on this path, that old man has the animal face that can be flagged. This is enough. I am leaving myself. But have we been
but haven't been my son, if you want to be impressively learned, memorize a famous historian and quoted as someone else.
So he's warning him about the idea of fame.
And being attached yourself. On the day I die, when I'm being caring towards the brain, don't we don't say he's gone, he's gone. That has nothing to do with going away the sunsets and the moon sets, but they're not gone dead, is they're coming together. The tomb looks like a prison. But it's really release. The human seed goes down in the ground, like a bucket into the well where Joseph
in grows and cons up full of some time, imagine beauty. Your mouth closes here and immediately opens with a shout of joy there.
This is the vision of somebody who really has come to terms with death.
And I would like in our society, to children in its attitude towards death and dying.
Just like we must learn to eat. And if you see a grown man come to the table, and literally start with his hands shouting his food into his mouth, and the food dripping over his clothes. And then when there's no more start banging on the table, and screaming for more, you would say this is an intertidal man that he should have learned to eat like a human being. Why is he still eating like a baby. In the same way that we have to learn how to do those bodily function properly. We have to learn to eat, we have to be socialized into behavior, what our religious traditions and what Islam is teaching us is that we have to learn how
not to die like baby screen.
And I've seen it in my own limited hospital experience. People literally not ready to die. I was in and all of you have many experiences, I'm sure but I was in a code, which really wanted me to completely leave the hospital situation about an 82 year old woman that went on for about 20 minutes.
If we're not ready to die, by the time we get to 80 to 80 something very seriously wrong with our society's view of death and what death means.
And I think, unfortunately, because we've separated our spiritual selves so much from our emotional and our physical selves, that we visually have become in bear in dealing with the issue of the spiritual implications of our deaths and the termination of our lives. And I hope that in some way, I've just
given you some insights that are useful to you and I'm sure a lot of this was
Just a reminder.
And I would just like to say that thank you very much for inviting me to speak here. And
welcome any comments or questions?