The Multidimensional Experience of Dying
Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, A.B.P.P.
The Washington Center for Consciousness Studies and The Washington Center for Phenomenological and Existential Psychotherapy
Dying as the Event of Our Shifting of Dimensional Presence
At the moment of death, as your mind and your body dissolves, what remains is your own vital awareness, your own vital inner most presence, this sphere of who-ness. Our who-ness exists both in time and beyond time as timeless awareness, timeless presence.
Our who-ness is our inner most awareness. Our who-ness is our innermost subjectivity. Our who-ness is our innermost presence. Our subjectivity is our openness of the knowing-ness of our Being, as a human being. Our subjectivity is the openness of our presence as the innermost presence of our Being, as a human being. Our subjectivity is the essence of our pure presence, our pure awareness. Subjectivity is the essence of our pure presence of Being in a being. Presence is the foundational openness of Being. Our Presence is our knowing-ness of Being in a being, as Being. Presence is the openness of Being. Presence is our ontological openness. Presence is our ontological knowing-ness. Who-ness is human gnosis, human jnana. Our Who-ness is our Presence.
In the drama of the transitional moment of death, our presence as awareness enters, or better said, opens as the timeless presence of our Pure Being. In the transition from the ordinary human life world, our experience of our awareness as presence which is bound in time, opens as our pure presence of timeless awareness. Our time bound presence of past, present and future time opens and unfolds as presence of our fourth time, timeless awareness, timeless Being, Pure timeless Presence. This happens for everyone, absolutely everyone just as they are.
In this timeless awareness, the nature of our presence becomes so clear and so luminous as primordial awareness, as primordial presence. In the process of dying and going beyond our ordinary life world dimension, our own presence is directly experienced as luminous primordial presence, as Beatific Presence. We directly and completely experience our self as the Beatific Presence which is our very nature and has always been our nature and will always be our nature.
Natural Self Liberation
This is the natural self -liberation of dying. This is the natural self-illumination through death, through leaving our time bounded ordinary life world. This is the natural self-liberation through the dissolving of our ordinary life world, the time bound life world. The time bound and place bound Nirmanakaya realm is our ordinary life world of being alive. We transition from the aliveness of ordinary life world into our dimension of timeless presence and timeless awareness and timeless aliveness.
Now of course this same process of self-liberation of presence and the experience of our own time bounded presence as pure timeless presence can also take place in our ordinary life world through our unfolding experience of presence. Meditative awareness opens us to experience presence. Meditative awareness is our becoming aware of our own awareness. This is our opening to presence and timeless presence. This self -liberation through our experience of timeless presence as our presence happens both in the unfolding of our ordinary life world experience and also in our experience of dying. The experience of natural liberation is always manifesting and is always able to manifest whatever the circumstance.
As the time bound existence of ordinary life world dissolves, the Sambogakaya realm of luminous aliveness completely manifests. This is the realm of archetypal aliveness, this is the archetypal and alchemical dimension of our human presence. Human aliveness shifts from the ordinary life world into the archetypal presence of living Being. This archetypal dimension is the realm of subtle luminous energy and luminous light forms and luminous vortices of Being. This is the realm of the Dakinis. This is the realm of archetypal forms and archetypal fields. This is the realm of direct immediate Beatific presence. This is the realm of Rapture, this is the realm of the Bliss of luminous Beatific Being. This realm is not a reward for the good life. This realm is beyond reward and punishment. This dimension is beyond good and beyond evil. This realm is our very nature as primordial luminous awareness, luminous primordial presence, luminous primordial Being. This unfolding event of awareness happens for everyone. Just as we are.
Ordinary Life World
Of course this Sambogakaya dimension not only manifest in our dying, but also in our ongoing continuity of living in our ordinary life world. The archetypal dimension does manifest in dreaming, in apparitional experience and in our direct perception of ordinary life world experience. Another word for direct perception is gnosis or jnana. As a person we can perceive through our ordinary life world appearance into the archetypal phenomena that is manifesting as ordinary life world. The mystical appearance of archetypal presence of Deities and Dakini is always experientially near. We can experience the luminous archetypal presence with ordinary persons and within ordinary context of our life world. This is the unfolding of natural liberation in the unfolding of our ordinary life world. This is the unfolding of natural liberation in time and in place and in circumstance of our ordinary life world dimension. The archetypal dimension can actually also manifest within the ordinary life world dimension.
Dharmakaya or Ground Awareness or Potential Space
In this dimension of our timeless awareness and our timeless aliveness and our timeless presence, we may further unfold into the depth and breathe of our ever deepening experience of natural self-liberation. We may dissolve completely and fully into our natural presence as the pure ground of Being, the ground of Pure Presence of Potential Space. This is the realm of pure potentiality. This is the dimension of Pure Being. This is our realm of the actuality of pure potentiality. This the Dharrmakaya. This is the ground of pure creativity wherein everything and anything arises out of no thingness. No thingness is primordial awareness, the primordial ground of presence, the primordial ground of Being.
Pure Potentiality and Liberation through Phenomena
We may completely dissolve into the ground of Pure Being, the ground of Presence as pure Potentiality. Everything that ever was and ever will be is contained in pure potentiality, contained in this vast potential spaciousness. As we dissolve into this dimension of Pure Being we exist as the actuality of pure potentiality, the pure potentiality of pure and total presence. We always are in this dimension and have always been this actuality of pure potentiality and will always be this actuality of pure potentiality. This realm is beyond past, beyond present and beyond future. Yet this timeless space holds time and all times simultaneously. This is the fourth time. This realm is beyond time. Knowing this, experiencing this timeless dimension of our presence is self-liberation.
In our time bound ordinary life world awareness, we may have also experienced this timeless dimension of potential space. We may have a direct sense of this innermost dimension of timeless awareness or timeless presence. You may also have a continuous attunement to this dimension of the pure potentiality of Being. This dimension is totally indeterminate. As we experience the ordinary phenomena of our ordinary life world, we may directly experience all phenomena as the Dharmakaya. We may directly experience all phenomena as the manifestation of Dharmakaya. In this experience we experience the trans-lucidity of all phenomena. We are liberated through our experience of phenomena. We are liberated through our experience of appearance. We are liberated through circumstances and eventfulness.
In Dzogchen we are always multidimensional beings, and as we become aware of awareness in ordinary life world we may experience all three dimensions vividly. We may experience each dimension in singularity or we may experience the different dimensions simultaneously. Complete liberation is the experiencing all three dimensions simultaneously and continuously. These different dimensions of presence completely interpenetrate each other. They are in oneness. They are in non-duality.
They are the same primordial presence manifesting as the different dimensions of existing-ness. They are in complete oneness and are completely indivisible. To know one is to know them all. Traditions that do not know oneness of the three dimensions are incomplete and lack the experience of true immanence which is univocity of Being. Some but not all transcendental traditions suffer from this lack of knowing, this lack of gnosis, this lack of jnana. They think that phenomena does not exist, that phenomena is without Being, and phenomena is not a manifestation of Being. This incomplete view Dzogchen names as Ma-Rigpa or ignorance.
Our range of awareness is infinite in its horizons, vast and multidimensional. Experiencing all three dimensions of our range of awareness simultaneously is total self-liberation. It is really great to know and to experience that these three dimensions completely interpenetrate each other. These dimensions are completely non dualistic. There is no hard boundaries between these kayas or these dimensions. All three can be experienced simultaneously and at times two dimensions can be experienced simultaneously. We are the three dimensions and the knower of the three dimensions of Being, the three dimensions of presence. In Dzogchen these three dimensions are known as the three kayas.
We may not always directly experience our foundational dimension of our Being, we may not always experience our direct awareness of our presence as foundational Being. Nonetheless, we always are the three dimensions of Presence. We are not simply in the three dimensions, we are the three dimensions.
After leaving the ordinary life world, after dying, we may remain in this sea of pure potentiality of Being as the Pure Being which we essentially are and always are. We may again, become time, we may again self-manifest as time within time. We may again self-manifest as the archetypal Sambogakaya realm and we may again self-manifest in time as the Nirmanakaya ordinary life world realm of human existence. Or we may simply remain in the sea of timeless Pure Being of Potential Space. We remain in Dharmakaya.
This unfolding process of self-liberation is life after life and death after death. This is the eternal drama of Being as the Pure Presence of self-manifestation as you and as me and as the worlds within worlds. This unfolding event of continuous self-manifestation is life after life and death after death. The intrinsic beatific nature of the presence of Being is to blissfully self-manifest as the Being-ness of beings, including your being and my being .
This is the ontological truth of infinite cosmological immanence to emanate and manifest as pure creativity bringing forth Being within beings. This is a timeless process manifesting time, creating time and the places of time. This event is infinite in its horizons, vast and multidimensional. This event is Pantheistic. Everything and anything is Divinity. Everything is the unfolding of the Divine Presence as Divine Presence. The essence of the great compassion is the unfolding of the Divine Presence as everything and anything. This is the bliss of Being, this is Beatific experience, this is Beatific Vision! This is the power of Univocity of Being, the Univocity of Presence.
The great compassion is beyond right and wrong, beyond good and evil, beyond better and best, and even beyond truth and falsity. The great compassion is the source of everything and anything, and is the beatific experience and beatific vision of all phenomena.
The Drama of Eschatology
There a many various cultural and theological eschatological myths about what happens after our death experience. Cultural Theologies love Eschatology. Patriarchal theo-centric religious traditions (whether eastern or western) love, absolutely love to project narratives of eschatological ontological- judgmental-ness. There are many forms and narratives of ontological judgmental-ness.
In patriarchal traditions there is often the ontological judgmental projection of an omnipotent Patriarchal Phallic God Archetypal form that is projected into the mythic narrative and context of juridical judgement. The judgment scene is a favorite. In this juridical context the dead person who is still existentially alive is sentenced to the eternal realm of heaven or sentenced to the eternal realm of hell forever and ever.
Another favorite form of eschatological narrative, is the narrative of a challenge of a quest or a test for liberation. The doorway to self- liberation is in the form of test or a form of quest. Transcendental traditions tend to love tests and quests and love the day of judgement.
For instance In the Tibetan book of the Dead, which is 17th century text that creates a story about what happens after death. There is a description of the moment after death when the recently died person is presented a sequence of a bright light and a soft light simultaneously appearing in the Tibetan Bardo Landscape. Now in the narrative of the Tibetan book of the Dead, the recently having died person is presented with this sequence of two lights. It is understood that One of the lights is the passage way to lead the person to complete and immediate and total self-liberation .The other light is a passage way to lead the person into reincarnation with a large range of possibilities, such as becoming a snail or dog or a God or even a human being.
No Test. No Judgement. No Quest
The challenge of the test is the choice between the Soft Light and Bright Light. Whatever the choice, this is not the path or understanding of Dzogchen which is natural liberation of the great Compassion. Dzogchen is the natural liberation through Presence. Earning liberation through a test is not the path of presence. This path of a test and the path of judgement is not the path of the unbound Divine manifestation of Presence and our unfolding experience of our own presence as the Divine Primordial Presence. There is no test in Dzogchen and there is no patriarchal judgment that decides our fate. This view of a test and the earning of liberation is patriarchal and theocentric in source. The seemingly theological narrative of judgement is ultimately a political narrative meant for the living. One more time! The eschatological narrative of judgement is ultimately a political narrative meant for the living. It is the use of terror to politically dominate and politically requires subjugation of the faithful.
Patriarchal traditions are relentlessly enacting some form of juridical judgement. The brilliant French psychoanalyst Jacque Lacan often describes the patriarchal archetypal as the Phallic Archetypal Symbol of the One who Knows and the One who omnipotently judges all. This developemental existential position is the personification of the primitive violent sadistic human superego in its illusionary omnipotence and corresponding self-righteous violence. Self-righteous violence is the violence of impotence. Impotence always follows Omnipotence.
The relentless theme of ontological judgmental-ness is reflected in the terrifying tales of persons who pass through the doorway of death and who are faced with the archetypical apparitions of the enraged Phallic Presence of the Patriarchal Almighty Father God. This Judgmental Phallic Father God is a presentation within all the Abrahamic Religions. This the patriarchal theocentric frame of Christian, of Jewish and of Islamic traditions and their various formulations of the judgment. In the judgmental formulations there is the judgement of the person going to heaven or going to hell. There is the famous patriarchal painting by the artist Goya, of Father Saturn, eating his children. This image in spirit, reflects our topic.
Of course, in the beginning of Abrahamic tradition, Abraham is given a test. God the Primal Phallic Father commands Abraham to kill, to murder, to sacrifice his only beloved Son. This is the primal beginning of the Abrahamic tradition. Great Start!
Terror and Cruelty
The Judgmental condemnation of the human being to the endless fire of an endless hell realm invokes a terror. Even the Anatman Buddhist seem to be terrified by the Avici hell realms. This is the terror of eternal cruelty. This is terror of God and terror by God, This is the terror of the God like Emptiness. The patriarchal maintenance of eschatological terror protects the patriarchal theocentric religious traditions, and their priestly caste and their political power of being the Ones’ who know.
The transcendental view of realization is the sublime accomplishment of Being the One Who Knows omnisciently. This is not the experience of self- liberation of equality consciousness. In Lacanian psychoanalytic language in the patriarchal traditions the Big Other becomes the Big Knower. Often in Tibetan Buddhism the Lama/Guru is seen as the Big Other and Big Knower. Likewise, the infallibility of the Papacy is definitely the illusion of the Big Other as the Big Knower. Moreover, the Being of royalty and the Being of wealth has the same illusion of Big Other and the Big Knower. For Lacan having this view of another person as Big Other and Big knower easily locks the viewer into the master slave relationship.
Equality consciousness is not the view of these transcendental traditions both in their theology, in their political hierarchal social organization and in their eschatological views. The univocity of Being is not the transcendental view or the transcendental experience or the transcendental teaching.
Patriarchal expression of archetypal judgmental-ness is a distortion of the nature of primordial presence. The patriarchal expression of archetypal judgmental-ness is a distortion of the nature of the Great Compassion.
Primordial presence is the great compassion that liberates everything and everyone just as they are. This patriarchal eschatological drama is the relentless drama of implicit and explicit loyalty to the patriarchal structural systemic requirements both in life and in death and in life after life. The requirement is for absolute loyalty. Retribution follows disloyalty. Reward follows child- like loyalty. Heaven is reward. Hell is retribution.
The One Who Knows
Patriarchal theocentric religion is transcendental in orientation. Liberation is through the dissociative praxis of going beyond and going beyond mind and going beyond phenomena and going beyond embodiment. Most religious eschatological elaborations reflect patriarchal theocentric psychology and an authoritarian body politic. The French psychoanalyst Lacan again describes how the symbolic dimension of the phallic father as the One who knows, dominates patriarchal and theocentric religious traditions. Lacan elaborates how the same symbolic frame dominates authoritarian political government and patriarchal religious systems. Religious authoritarian regimes and political authoritarian regimes have the similar character structure of distorted omnipotence and distortions of omniscience and corresponding rage of impotence. Lacan languages this archetypal symbolic structure as “The name of the Father”.
dCompassion as Presence and the Primordial Given-ness of Presence
The great compassion as it is manifested in experience is not simply an emotional and empathic moment. The great compassion as the Dzogchen Master Yang Thang Rinpoche artfully expresses is our human capacity to extend timeless awareness, timeless presence into time. We can extend this timeless presence into the present moment of a person or a situation. We can extend this luminous presence into the past of the person or a situation. We can extend this presence into the future of the person or a situation. This great compassion is primordial presence manifesting within us and through us as our own presence. This experience of compassion is the self- arising of timeless presence self- manifesting ‘through us as us.’
Primordial compassion is the compassionate manifestation of the ground of Being always, and in every situation. This is not easy to understand within our concretized cultural religious patriarchal group mind since this compassionate understanding is the non-dual nature of self- liberation through presence, ‘just as we are.’ Primordial compassion liberates us by manifesting us as our own self- presence! For us to embody what has been given, what has already been given and what is continuously being given in the immediacy of the present moment, is the secret of natural self-liberation. To experience what actually is, is self- liberation. Just as it is!
Liberation is the experiencing of our personal presence as primordial presence. This can take place right now within our life as well as at the moment of our death and in the moment-less time after death. Within our own being we can experience the non-duality of Being within duality of phenomena. The seeming duality between personal presence and primordial presence dissolves into the profound experience of non-duality of personal presence as primordial presence.
This is the indivisibility of my being with Being itself. This is the indivisibility of my presence within primordial presence itself. The experience of primordial presence is the Beatific Experience that Saint Augustine wrote about in the 6th century AD. This is the Beatific Experience that the 9th century Chakrasamvara Tantra Illuminates. Our human field of presence is the beatific experience of self- liberation. As the Dakini said to Dudjom Lingpa “You and I are indivisible”. This is the very nature of the Univocity of Being.
Liberation is being free of the fear of death as you have experientially entered deathless awareness or deathless presence. Within this state of deathless presence, you experience the actuality of Being beyond appearing and beyond disappearing. You experience the no-thingness of awareness manifesting in different modes and dimensions of existing-ness. Sometime this existence is the presence of ordinary life world, and sometimes this existence is archetypal realm of presence and sometimes this existence is the dimension of the Pure Presence of potential space, the pure presence of potentiality.