In one way or another almost all religions say the same thing. You must die before you die and only then will you know what dying is and not be afraid of death.
The origine of the word, religion, was two Latin words re + ligio, or more correctly one Latin word with the prefix “re” added to it. When I googled the etymology of the word, religion, I came up with dozens of web addresses that talked about the word “ligio” and how religion was about binding; people to God, people to one another, God to people, etc. The word ligio gave us the English word “ligament” a very tough sinewy organic material that holds things together, bone to bone etc. Very few of those references however tackled the “re” part of the word Religion, which means to do it again or more accurately, in this case, to rebind or bind together again. It was as if people didn’t want to talk about why this would have to be done more than once or perhaps again and again.
Most of us at least some of time deal with our lives from the platform of what is not real. Don’t get me wrong, pain, illness, loss, hardship, loneliness are VERY real experiences to a part of me, my ego, my False Self, the personality and identity that I have come to recognize as me. But my Real self relates to all of these temporary phenomena very differently. There are even times in my day when even I can actually experience myself as separate from those challenges.
Paul Tillich called the Real self the “ground of being” and affirmed that once one had come into contact with that thing, the experience could not and would ever be entirely forgotten. Once you have made contact with that REAL in you, you will forever know that something is there that can be known, relied upon and deeply loved. When this happens you move from the religion of belief to the religion of knowing. A binding together again has taken place and the stage is set for that rebinding over and over.
The purpose of death and the purpose of spirituality or true religion is to carry us off so that we no longer pretend that who we are is our ego. Once the separation takes place, and this can happen in an instant, the ego is transformed and carried off to be rebound to the True Self as a new creation again and again. Ernest Holmes defined the ego in the Science of Mind, p. 588 as “the inner man … the real self, the Christ, the perfect idea of God.” In the East, they want to kill the ego. In the West, we want to give him a new job description. It is for that reason that eastern religion as it purely practiced in the East, a charming curiosity for the western devotee, is an impossibility for westerners. That is also why the tough Mysticism of the West, the mysticism of Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and St Francis is largely ignored. We will work on our career, our portfolio and even our backswing but we wont work on our ego and its role in our spiritual life. We want to kill him off and we don’t even want to do that. We want to starve him to death and once he’s gone pretend he never was.
We live in a society that is ego driven and the divinization of the ego, the rebinding of the ego to the True self is what we are about so that we can finally put that “ego reborn” to work for the good of humanity. It kind of looks like this. We are realigning ourselves from being two to ONE through a loving and lifelong tug of war that is the dance of transformation. We remember and then we forget. We have forgotten but suddenly we remember and on and on it goes. It is a trust walk, a constant testing of the reliability of Love and God (which are the same thing really). Eventually we fall trustingly back into our True Self and we are One again. In the end we are testing God much more than God is testing us. God knows what we are made of. It is we who have forgotten and who use our lives to remind ourselves.
So what dies? The False Self and its just a question of WHEN and not IF and not even how.
Who lives? The Real Self, the God Self that we have always been, always lived!