Mara, Lord of Death and Desire holding a Wheel of Reincarnation
I have written before how much I love the TV show “Lost.” I have just finished watching it all over again and I must say the final episode of the last season was again incredibly moving to me. While I was watching it yesterday I could not help thinking it was mysteriously in sync with the current planetary line-up of Jupiter in Cancer opposing Pluto in Capricorn. In case you do not know the show, in the last episode, which is very esoteric and mysterious, the main characters meet in a church, which is not a regular church but more like a temple with symbols from various religions and mystical traditions. It seems that all the characters are dead at this point and they are there to “leave” and “move on.” Alternatively, the scene could be interpreted as the transition of just one character, Jack Shephard, who had died and was to make a transition to afterlife surrounded by friends and family. All the characters, or just Jack, were there to bid farewell to their mortal existence and transit through a doorway into the afterlife. I thought of Cancer and Capricorn at this point because the mystery of life, death and rebirth is deeply connected with the Cancer-Capricorn polarity, as Cancer marks the highest ascent of the Sun in the northern hemisphere, while Capricorn marks its lowest ascent. As Master DK taught, Cancer is the “gate in” while Capricorn the “gate out;” we incarnate into human form in Cancer while Capricorn is the sign of the return to the spirit.
I felt that the Cancer-Capricorn polarity was beautifully shown in this episode. The main character’s death was shown as a sublime experience, full of peace, wisdom, love and acceptance.
I found a relevant and quite striking quote in a classic book by Roger J. Woolger entitled “Healing Your Past Lives,” which I can thoroughly recommend:
“Budhists and Hindus alike believe that the last thought at the moment of death determines the character of the next incarnation. … The Tibetan tradition counsels us that the finest way to die is to leave the transient way consciously and peacefully if we can, taking no thoughts, no body pains of any kind with us; it teaches us that only when we become completely empty can we know the pure radiance of our limitless minds.”
What I loved about the moment of death and transition shown on “Lost” was that it was both in keeping with the Buddhist instruction on “perfect death” (which takes care of the Capricorn Spirit polarity) but it also incorporated the polar opposite of Cancer and invoked the feeling of warmth felt when surrounded by your loved ones. Capricorn without Cancer can be quite cold and unforgiving. I was reminded of a very powerful poem by Zbigniew Herbert, a Polish poet that I often quote on my blog. The poem is called “At the Gate of the Valley”:
“After the rain of stars
on the meadow of ashes
they all have gathered under the guard of angels
from a hill that survived
the eye embraces
the whole lowing two-legged herd
in truth they are not many
counting even those who will come
from chronicles fables and the lives of the saints
but enough of these remarks
let us lift our eyes
to the throat of the valley
from which comes a shout
after a loud whisper of explosion
after a loud whisper of silence
this voice resounds like a spring of living water
it is we are told
a cry of mothers from whom children are taken
since as it turns out
we shall be saved each one alone
the guardian angels are unmoved
and let us grant they have a hard job
– hide me in your eye
in the palm of your hand in your arms
we have always been together
you can’t abandon me
now when I am dead and need tenderness
a higher ranking angel
with a smile explains the misunderstanding
an old woman carries
the corpse of a canary
(all the animals died a little earlier)
he was so nice – she says weeping –
he understood everything
and when I said to him
her voice is lost in the general noise
even a lumberjack
whom one would never suspect of such things
an old bowed fellow
catches to his breast an axe
– all my life she was mine
she will be mine here too
she nourished me there
she will nourish me here
nobody has the right
– he says –
I won’t give her up
those who as it seems
have obeyed the orders without pain
go lowering their heads as a sign of consent
but in their clenched fists they hide
fragments of letters ribbons clippings of hair
which they naively think
won’t be taken from them
so they appear
a moment before
the final division
of those gnashing their teeth
from those singing psalms.”
(Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott)
George Innes, “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”
Beautiful, rich layers. TV, Buddhism, and the planets sing in harmony…
Thank you very much, they kind of did sing to me today.
I know what you mean about the that scene in Lost – profoundly moving. Such an enriching and hopeful post Monika. I must say I’m not easy with the concept of reincarnation; I’m open to it, but there’s a lot questions for me and sometimes as I listen to the proponents of it, it often sounds so blurred and cloudy. But that’s just me.
I know what you mean, but maybe the mystery of life and death will always be blurred and cloudy to us. I am still moved by that last scene in Lost, cannot shake it off for now. So powerful. Thank you, Don.
The beauty of Lost was perhaps its ability to remain in a mystery. I have friends who stopped watching because of that reason, or as they put it, “it’s too weird now.”
The last show was some how burdened with keeping the mystery and yet finding an exit, which very much mirrors our life and death here, yes?
I think that is why some speculated that Lost was about purgatory, well, that might be one way to look at it. I think though that Lost had an Underworld feel, not a literal Underworld, but a deliteralized Dayworld perspective, and that was the beauty of it. Every show invited us to glimpse deeper, but instead of falling into the trap of explaining itself, it deepened the mystery and gave us ways to stay in mystery and broaden the possibilities. It was like having clearer access to a dream state.
I must revisit the series and am so happy that we share a love of that show.
The poem perhaps sums up our common fate, that in birth and death we all submit and find our true aloneness.
Thank you as always Monika, for so much inspiration that comes from the richness of your writing.
As always, a great post. The moment of death, that crossing of the threshold, is so important. Carlos Castaneda emphasized that moment in his books. It is the goal of a sorcerer’s work to be able to keep his or her consciousness from being devoured at the moment of death. And tying that into “Lost,” I don’t know if you caught this, but when Benjamin Linus was having a book club meeting, the book he was holding was Castaneda’s “A Separate Reality.”
I did watch very carefully this time and I did catch that moment but it was actually not at the book club but when Sajid was in prison and a young Ben was visiting him that he (Ben) brought him the book. Anyway, details do not matter here but the overall message. I love your reference to Castaneda. Thank you.
Ahh, I think you’re right! The devil is in the details. I am almost tempted to watch the series again, but it is such a commitment. Not sure I have the time for it right now 😉
a beautiful, beautiful poem. thanks for posting.
Oh, I am happy. I also think it is very moving.
Powerful poem…..great post as always. Not knowing the show ‘Lost’ I cannot reference the implications but sticking with the poem: fantastic, charcoal-y atmosphere.
Thank you, Steven. “Charcoaly” is a fine word to describe it.
Love your blog, and particularly this post … the poem is superb, and made me cry … Love, cat http://catsruledogsdroole.blogspot.com/ and http://ckpeacemaker.wordpress.com/ are my web sites, if you care to check them out.
This poem is very touching to me as well. I have visited your websites, it is a pity you have left wordpress, though. It would be easier to interact, I guess.
as always. wonderful imagery Monika. I am again considering watching the series Lost. Funny how people, places, or things that do not “matter” at one point in life, glow for you at others.
Thank you, Linda. I think you will not be disappointed if you decide to see it.
your words make me want to go watch all the Lost series,
I quit watching when it kept being taken off for some sports something
and never knew when it would come back on….now I think I shall start
over with it….(Thank you)
the poem is breath-taking….it entwines raw emotions within the sadness and beauty
of life being held in ones hand the memories..( or it was that way for me)
Thank you for sharing…
Take Care…You Matter…
Oh, I really love your thoughts on the poem – thank you very much for sharing them.
Monica I so loved “Lost” too. It was a favorite of mine, and my beloved departed friend Roger. The ending did not disappoint. I can totally relate to its actual relation to our life now. Nonlinear existence seems natural and acceptable now. Not completely but I see so many including myself embracing it.
Past life understandings and healings are coming at such a rapid pace. People are just there, so obvious why, so much healing and blending of timelines. Does that sound like “Lost?” lol Sort of.
I loved, loved the poem, the post and the quote!
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So well said, Sindy! I can see you must be a huge fan. Thank you so very much.
No scarey black smoke monster though!
But he/it was such a vital part.
Oh yes in “Lost”, I suppose I have actually dealt with my own scarey black smoke monsters too.
Because you are talking about the transition to death in these passages, I really wanted your thoughts on some dreams I had.
The descriptions are short, so it won’t take a long time to read them, but they deal with a separation of my consciousness from my body – one through what should have been a death, one not directly. They left me feeling extremely ecstatic both during the dream and when I woke up.
The first one is quite um…fascinating…because I died, but I didn’t die in it by running the car I was driving into the wall of an overpass (bridge), on purpose! which…was weird and what happened after was even weirder And, just on Monday, my ex brother in law actually died in a terrible car accident, which made me think of my dream again.
I tried various ways of googling the details of my dream to see what it might mean, but I can’t get any real answers. I’m placing my own interpretation on them, though I’m not sure if I am interpreting them right.
I want you to know that while I’m just a beginner when it comes to meditation and spirituality. I read broadly and honestly, quite slowly and haphazardly, and my forays into meditation have not been very long, nor very deep when I’m actually trying to sit and meditate. But I do find myself having interesting visualizations and half-dreaming/half awake states when I’m drowsy and laying in bed and listening to certain kids of music (like some of Celtic Women’s more ethereal pieces) and once when I listened to Tibetan mediation music.
I don’t ever expect unusual things to happen, but unusual things have been coming up during dreaming and meditation.
I would be happy to.
And I’ll have to watch Lost now…I don’t like watching shows if/when they are trendy for some reason.
The Lost series was one of my favorite, especially because the writers allowed for the message to express itself. I saw an overall theme of humans struggling to stay alive no matter what, when in the end we all die and move on. So many struggles could have been avoided if they would have just allowed themselves to move on, and like the poem, not grasp to the sentiments. The idea is echoed in our society where so many resources are used to save the lives of the sick and invalid. Yes, it may seem cruel to let them die, but keeping them alive and suffering so that we do not feel loss, when we have no clue what we are keeping them from is also very cruel.
Thank you for these enlightening observations. On the other hand, these struggles are so human. I think Lost was also homage to these sentiments and struggles, as is the poem.
It is not to say that struggle is not good, but that the struggle to hold on is one done in vain. If there are no attachments, there is no pain. Yet to each his own.
Yes, you are right of course – letting go is crucial and frees us from the pain. Thank you for taking the time to comment.