Welcome to OneLife Ministries. This site is designed to lead you prayerfully into a heart experience of Divine Presence, Who is Love. Please share this ministry with others, and I hope you return soon. There is a new offering daily.
Brian Kenneth Wilcox
MDiv, MFT, PhD
Interspiritual Teacher, Chaplain, and Author
You are invited to join Brian at his fellowship group on Facebook – A Contemplative Interspiritual Fellowship.
Do you recall the first time you realized you will die? Do you recall your first images of what death would be like? The human journey, from that awakening to the awareness of physical death, is over-shadowed with the realization that you as you, and here, will soon be no more.
I do not recall when I became aware of the inevitability of my dying. I do recall the horrible image I had of death. My first idea of how we die is that everyone suffocates to death. How I coped early with the thought that I was to suffocate out of this life, I do not know.
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A priest walked into a pub. He became indignant on seeing so many of his parishioners there. He rounded them up and shepherded them into the church building.
Then he instructed them, "All those who want to go to heaven, step over here to the left." Everyone stepped over except one man, who stubbornly kept his ground.
The priest looked at him fiercely and spoke, "Don't you want to go to heaven?"
"No," replied the man.
"Do you mean to stand there and tell me you don't want to go to heaven after you die?"
"Of course,” spoke the man, “I want to go to heaven when I die. I thought you were going now!"
*Anthony de Mello. “Going to Heaven.” From www.spiritual-short-stories.com .
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Too much religion treats heaven in a way that does not encourage full engagement with this world. Indeed, much religion treats this world as evil, or simply a gap between this life and what is called the “afterlife” ~ whatever that would be. How can life continue and, at the same time, be an afterlife? Confusing.
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The great German philosopher Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), who was also a poet and dramatist and historian, as well as a very close friend with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, was taken by serious illness by January 1805. Schiller's body became weakened by pneumonia and pleurisy. He had struggled with the latter since about six years before. On May 1 he contracted double pneumonia. He moved in and out of delirium. His last words seem marked with doubt. He said: Ist da euer Himmel, ist das euer Höllie?” In English this is: “Is that your heaven, is that your hell?”
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Being ready for death entails being ready for this life. How can we be prepared to die fully, if we have not sought to live fully? Taking into account that Schiller's words may reflect delirium ~ or may reflect intelligible confusion ~, if we live well there is no reason we cannot die with confidence.
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A Zen custom has been to turn a cup downward before going to bed at night. This signifies the devotee recognizes that death may come before morning and that he is prepared to go.
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I love this life, even with its hardships and hurts. I cherish this journey, and I see it as wonderfully sacred. So, no, I am not ready to die. I, however, seek to live daily so as to be prepared to die. After death, I see life continuing. I see death as the hinge to the next stage of the journey. Heaven, then, foremost is not a geographical place without; foremost, Heaven is a state of being within. If we live Heaven now, we have no reason intelligibly to face asking the question at our point of leaving: “Is that your heaven, is that your hell?”
Yet, while we realize that this world is to be fully engaged, we are to seek to be always prepared to leave this dimension. We are blessed if we die in confidence of hope of a continuance in some form of this life, which again is not an afterlife. Life is energy, energy does not die; we are energy, we cannot die ~ not in any final sense. We are part of God, God cannot die.
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*OneLife Ministries is a ministry of Brian Kenneth Wilcox, SW Florida. Brian lives a vowed life and with his two dogs, Bandit Ty and St. Francis.
*Brian is on Facebook: search Brian Kenneth Wilcox.
*You can order his book An Ache for Union from major booksellers.