Death. Again. And Awareness.


Lokita’s insights on death while seeing her father go: “Standing next to his lifeless form, once again I was … in awe of the mystery of life and death, the mystery of who we are.”

You are the sunshine of my eyes

Death. We all know (more or less) that it is coming, but when it does, it is still always a surprise. Even though I expected my father to die sooner rather than later because of his advanced Parkinson’s disease, when he did die seven days ago, the shock and grief and sadness was just as heavy on my heart as if it had been a sudden, completely unexpected death.

When I requested to see my father after his passing, the funeral director informed me that usually the family only view their loved one inside a coffin, bedded on a pillow and blanket, and that he was not ‘presentable’ quite yet. That was fine with me, I told her. So she took me to what she called their ‘preparation room’; it was very cold inside.

To me, my father was perfectly presentable – nicely dressed in his blue shirt, tie and black pants, and his face peaceful and at ease. Standing next to his lifeless form, once again I was – indeed I still am – in awe of the mystery of life and death, the mystery of who we are. Just the week before we had celebrated his 80th birthday with him in the circle of our family – his sisters, his children and grandchildren. When his brother had called from Australia, my father had laughed, his big blue eyes shining as he spoke with such joy on the phone.

And now, although there was his body, his face, his hands, so much like my own… that what had made him “my father” was gone. He was gone.

In this intimate moment, less than 24 hours after he left his body, I quietly thanked him for gifting me this life, for his generosity when I was a very rebellious teenager, and for helping me become the person I am today; saying goodbye to his physical being, and wishing him a favorable rebirth, should that exist. The flow of the earth and the sky energies within my body was very palpable. Peace.

We will all die. One day our loved ones will look at our own lifeless body just like I did with my mother and with Steve and now with my father. Just like you perhaps did with your loved ones who died. But then it will be our body.

What, oh what are we doing with our one precious lifetime while we still have the divine privilege of this wondrous body?

During my ordeal of the past two+ years, awareness has been my foundation. Awareness to the fact that I am alive. That there is a vibrant, inexplicable mystery that leaves my body without ‘life’ when ‘I’ die. That I can taste, feel, smell, dance, cry, destroy, create, hear, walk, touch, celebrate, help, write, cry, make love, speak. Awareness when I grieve and mourn, awareness when the waves are calm. Even awareness of awareness!

The awareness that every moment is one precious irretrievable complete moment of life, whatever that moment holds. And finally the awareness that death is part of life. That death will come; that it is nothing bad, nothing to fear. Simply a fact.

Would your life be any different if you lived with that awareness all the time? If every single moment was a wake-up call?

And so, as my father is on his final journey to the great mystery beyond this body – “in die ewigen Jagdgründe”, as he used to say, like in the Native American Indian tradition – I am so sad that he is gone. Yet all is well. May his soul be reunited, finally, with his beloved Maren, our mother, and may they, together with Steve, be connected with us in the Unknowable.

The greatest discovery in life, the most precious treasure, is of awareness. Without it you are bound to be in darkness, full of fears. And you will go on creating new fears – there is no end to it. You will live in fear, you will die in fear, and you will never be able to taste something of freedom. And it was all the time your potential; any moment you could have claimed it, but you never claimed it. It is your responsibility.”

Osho, Beyond Psychology, Ch 19

© 2017 Lokita Carter – first published in Lokita’s blog
Illustration ‘You are the sunshine of my eyes’ by Bill Brouard from Visual Alchemy ©

Lokita CarterLokita took sannyas at 19 in 1982. Together with her late husband Steve she taught over 500 Tantra seminars in North and Central America. In late 2015 while she was in treatment for a rare, very aggressive breast cancer, Steve was shot dead while hiking in Marin County, California. Two years later, Lokita re-emerged strong, victoriously and bright from the darkest, most horrible time of her life with new insights and intimate understanding of life, death and what’s really important: love.

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