” Death must be something extraordinary, as life is.” ( J. Krishnamurti ) We’re going to talk a little about a dear friend of mine that I have known for much of my life. But we’re not going to talk so much about his life here as we are his death. Because it was in his dying that he showed me that death truly is “extraordinary”.
When we think of death, we think of it as something separate from life rather than as of the same nature of this life we are living. Life is much more than this personal one we think we’re living. And death is not the personal one we think we will have some day.
Death is the end of all thought; the end of all conceptions about life as it is conceived of in the human body and mind. It is the end of our wanting, of needing, of grasping, of all relationships, real and imagined. It marks the end of both our fear and our courage, for both are mind manufactured, both conceive of something that is to be resisted, avoided and denied, often desperately.
So we hide from death; we hide our aging population so as not to be reminded of our own mortality. We hide from our self too, with cosmetic techniques and attempts to regenerate our life with the generation of new ideas and new prospects based on our minds’ memories and future hopes, none of which are actually new. For renewal, if it is to be real, includes that which we seek so much to avoid: death. It is only with the recognition of life’s constant ending – the continuous re-birthing of existence – that we come into real relationship with the whole of what is. This renewal is not in time and space, in cause and effect, in things that come and go, that must always disintegrate. It’s in life itself – that which integrates death into life. For wont of a better word, let’s call it “Love”.
Love is life, life is love. Death is love in action.
Death is the end of all limitation, the apparent passing from one state into another. Like an ice cube melting into water, the person we think we are dissolves and returns to its original source. So in truth, as in miracles, life transfigures itself.
Death is the passing then, from life to life; spirit in form dissolves into spirit without form. And life lives on as always, ever renewing itself in form.
In fact, life and death are one; they are not our individual and abstract thoughts and feelings about them. This miracle of living, of life as we know it and not of life as we think it, is what all of us humans are actually experiencing now. And now. And now. In truth we live and have our being only in this moment called “now”. Only in this unknown, deathless Now.
Now, let’s turn to my old dear friend Giovanni. If you had met him, you probably would have liked this genial and warm Italian man who lived near me for over 35 years. He was a good friend to almost everyone; in all his relationships, his foolishness and crazy delights, his hopes and dreams, he was Everyman. And it is because he was exactly like you and me, that it may be useful to look a little not into his life this time, but into his death. Of course, most of us cannot really know about death, his or ours, but we can bear witness to his dying, and know the way spirit lives.
The Grace of Giovanni
I want to talk about the real Giovanni, and not about his Story . Beautiful and difficult, simple and complicated as Gio was, I invite you to celebrate here not only his life, but Life itself. So, let’s talk of the Giovanni that we know has not died. The Gio that was never born. The Spirit of Gio. It is this spirit of all creation, of all that we call love, that lives.
Gio lives on not in the memory of those who knew him, but in the very nature of life – this essence, this endlessly living spirit right here, right now, which is the very stuff of all our being.
The form of Giovanni, the body and mind so beautifully presented to us, is now reduced to memory, like his ashes. But what lives – what truly lives – can have no death, no birth, no beginning, no end.
Giovanni the man, knew this. We saw it in his kindness, we feel it in his poems. He knew that in truth, nothing and no one actually dies – his spirit, our spirit, Spirit itself, remains like the fragrance of Grace.
The spirit that draws breath in your lungs in your room right now; the one that sighs, that shuffles, scratches, sniffs, stretches and constantly adjusts for comfort –that embodied spirit called “you” is Gio!
We are all One, all Gio. All Grace, all Life, all Love.