THE TRANSIT ROOM
As if from beyond, nothing is viewing the components of consciousness interweave, blend and reblend in an infinite dance of possibilities, impossibilities, situations, universes and worlds-within-worlds. Attention of each seemingly eternal moment illuminates all infinite waves relecting infinite waves of infinite oceans of endless crystal waters... One such wavicle of consciousness magically conjures the interaction of a female and male biped human form on an obscure planet in an obscure galaxy in an obscure cosmos. The story appears so convincing - in its limitation and identification with its own projection, and then equally spontaneous release from itself. How sublimely poignant!
"My father and I are driving to a distant part of the complex in Stanford. I'm behind the wheel, and once again I'm trying to hold back the anxiety. It makes concentration difficult but I manage to maintain control of the vehicle. The wave of negative emotion subsides and gradually I become silent. Quietly abiding, we watch the scene outside slowly pass by. Hardly a word has been spoken since we left home this morning. Only my intermittent sobbing has punctuated our solitude together. I feel another surge coming. "Why is it always me who has to do this? Couldn't someone else have taken him?", I almost complain out loud, as I wonder to myself whether this is the privilege that befalls being the oldest. Then I realize that this is what I always think..., it seems so.... so strangely familiar... But is this "real", or is it all just a convincingly intense pansensory dream?!.
As if by reflex, the tears flood through again; but we're almost there now. I force myself to concentrate and finally after what seems like much too long a time, we arrive. All the while father has been beside me, attentive yet imperturbable. He sees the tears; still he says nothing, completely impartial to it all. Having parked the car, I follow him toward the oddly shaped polyhedral building with the glass doors. His steps are firm definite unwavering. Upon entering we are met by a man in Reception. He greets us courteously and immediately produces the standard forms, which he asks us to fill out and sign; my signature as a witness is one of the required items. With these formalities satisfactorily completed, our receptionist discreetly withdraws and continues to wait implacably at his station.
Moving away to another part of the room I begin to absorb more fully the details of our environment. It is so quiet, clean and uncluttered in here, yet it isn't the sterile coldness of a hospital. Instead it reminds me of the magically radiant spaces I still vaguely remember from early childhood. How vividly bright and alive everything appears! The plants, chairs, tables - even the walls - seem to be emanating some sort of life-force. As my attention shifts downward, I notice that the carpet is also vibrating with the same harmonious rhythm as everything else. There isn't any sense of separateness between one thing and another; in fact, there doesn't appear to be any "thing" at all. Half-bemusedly I wonder if every being - whether animate, inanimate or otherwise - isn't always alive like this, and whether it's because most of us humans usually allow ourselves to be continually distracted one way or another, that we totally ignore and therefore lose conscious awareness of this unbroken unity of life. It also seems a funny idea to be "human"...again!? I'm brought out of this reverie as my gaze comes to rest upon father. Once more I am struck by the aura of serenity that radiates from him : he for whom death is only moments away. I'm desperately trying to avoid confronting this idea. Our eyes meet, and without any noticeable transition, I'm seeing through his eyes; and I begin to understand what all of this really means.
It's as if I'm viewing myself from above, apparently separated from my body and its states, yet still part of them. From this vantage point it is painfully obvious that all the grief, self-pity and sense of injustice I have been indulging in has been entirely selfish and futile. I see too that a part of me, this body and the mind that I call "mine", are quite unwilling to accept what is; quite unwilling to accept that this is the last time I will see my father alive in the flesh; the last time we will hold each other. Yet it is a conscious decision he has voluntarily made.
A golden glint draws my vision. The door. The golden door with the golden handle -- that leads into the Transit Room. What's going to happen next? My mind tells me that I will never really know. "It's only fear and clinging that keep one in ignorance. There are no doors, no barriers in reality." Is this my father's voice? Yet he is not speaking through words; his thoughts are directly inside me! What he says awakens me somehow, and I am disengaged from all my former identifications as consciousness sweeps back over the store of my life's experiences. Through the panoramic overview I come to see that I have known about "this" moment for a very long time.
Father first told me of this event and all that it implied when he saw that I was "old enough to understand." He said that I too would come to fully understand what the "Transit Room" really is, in my own time and in my own way. But where is that clear insight now when I need it? I wrestle with it but I can't remember,... or I don't want to remember. The time-tracks play on.... I recount "The Story," over and over again... When Daddy went to the University of Stanford in the late 'fifties, he and many others volunteered for extended experiments in parapsychology, telepathy and deep meditation... The techniques used in these experiments came from some previously unknown and ancient sources. The results were never released to the public... But Dad said that except for a few participants, everyone who had taken part in the experiments knew when they were going to die -- almost to the hour. Not only that, through the practice of some of these techniques a human being could consciously bring all the body's life functions to cessation or terminus - the moment of death. Those who wished to carry out such a procedure in a controlled environment could come to the Transit Room -- the Room of Conscious Transition. Dad once mentioned that the techniques and the environment were as much for the living as for the dying,... that no one really leaves the Room; they just forget they've always been in it... and that the practices were designed specifically to reconnect everyone with this source realization. Since the time he had made mention of that fact, many had come to spend their last moments here... and they still do. I wonder if the experiments have been carried on throughout all these years.
At the moment it doesn't much matter in the face of all these struggling and contradictory emotions and states. Here I am looking at the person that I thought was myself; through my father's eyes?? And right now that person appears too angry and hurt to even want to know any more than to wallow in its own anger and pain. What a mess!! It's so strange to discover that "I", whoever that is, still have all these latent, hidden negativities. After all, I'd always liked to think of myself as having "worked on myself": therapy, massage, meditation; I should have been clear of such "wordly" attachments. Or that was the assumption... the irony is that now I wonder "whose" assumption that was. And who makes assumptions in the first place?
I do a quick scan of my version of Dad's life. By profession he was a car salesman and essentially he enjoyed his work. Matter of fact he seemed to enjoy everything he did! Although his drinking and smoking were a bit too much for my liking, I heard that he'd quit both pasttimes a few years ago. To me there wasn't any obvious external evidence indicating that he was doing anything toward a "higher self;" at least he didn't engage in any conspicuous forms of discipline or meditation on a formal level. Not that I knew of, even though such possibilities had been suggested to him on more that one occasion. Of course he just cheerfully accepted what I had to say, even encouraged me on with whatever practice I was into at the time, and then continued to live life in his usual easy-going manner! Perhaps that was his only notable feature. He always looked relaxed regardless of the difficulties encountered in confronting a situation. Not many things seemed to take him by surprise no matter how absurd or unexpected the circumstance. He made even unpleasant things appear tolerable, like it didn't matter one way or the other how anything turned out as long as one learned from it.
We had been very close... once. As a matter of fact, our renewed contact was only a recent event. Somehow I had drifted off on a raft of my own interests, until I had gotten a call that his health had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. I had nearly forgotten about his experiments and the Transit Room... And now here I am, and the pieces are suddenly falling into place.
I begin to wonder. Maybe he does know something; something so essential that it has allowed him to simply live life without getting caught up in the all-surrounding negativity... And now this, the acceptance of his own "transition" with such an inner calmness, makes me seriously question why I am, or at least some part of me is, afraid of dying. It even makes me seriously question what death is, altogether. Through the presence and force of his compassion I suddenly realize that he has guided me to the threshold of actually confronting my own life; and death.
The jarring impact of this recognition brings me to the brink of utterly losing control. An irrational dread, fear and confusion seizes me, and for an instant my breath catches as a whirling wave of nausea threatens to overwhelm me. Immediately I feel father's unshakeable presence restabilizing my focus, and the vertigo and nausea vanish before they have had time to manifest externally.
It becomes obvious that there are still portions of the habitual mind clinging to thoughts of death and extinction. These thoughts of my own dying are inextricably interwoven with and connected to my father's experience of death. And as if given some secret signal to make themselves appear they now come swarming from some hidden recess; begging, pleading, cajoling, threatening, seducing -- all wanting attention and significance, all wishing to be entertained. Thoughts like seeing Dad playing with his grandchildren, thoughts about sex, food and a thousand other really unimportant things; things that have seemed important only because we have been consciencelessly taught them to be so; and just as consciencelessly have passed these beliefs onto "others"... After what seems an eternity the last vestiges of these subside and disappear. And then suddenly I remember the most important thing of all: that we, none of us, own each other. We are really here to love and to help one another if we can - not to be an enslavement. We are here to learn how to live instead of doing everything possible to die and to have everyone else die in misery and uncertainty.
He hugs me one last time. The look in his eyes is his parting gift. It cuts right through to my heart. The pain I think I have been feeling no longer exists; has never really existed. From some unknown depth a limitless adoration and gratitude wells up bursting forth uncontrollably like a fountain of light through me; for having known and been with this man, my father, my friend for having been with or as anyone. There never has been any separation!
"Understand what, to love without sharing, is," I hear the communion say as we release our embrace. He moves unhesitatingly by me and passes soundlessly through the golden door with the waiting guide. He's gone.
For a moment All is transfixed in the motionless stillness. Here there is no more fear to sustain, nothing left to fear with. The Silence thunders and reverberates through every possibility of the Being That I Am, and for the briefest instant, the Universe wobbles. A bubbling, gushing, ultra-giddiness pulsates and ebbs to the farthermost reaches of infinity; then all is clear and steady.
With this clarity dawns the realization that I know, have always known and have never not known how to live, and that death is but a restful transition, a refreshing oasis on the Road of Infinite Eternities. And it does not matter when it will come, for now everything is limitlessly full of living beyond all doing. One lives who in living loves. There is no beginning. There is no end.
nothing also walks through the golden door...
nothing is as nothing is