After a six-month period of intense work, I decided to take a break. I wanted a change of scenery for a couple days, so decided to go on a short getaway. I found a house with a big stretch of desert as a back yard in one of my favorite spots on the earth: Joshua Tree.
It was October and still warm during the day but things cooled down quite a bit at night—California cool, that is. In the mid 50s.
The house had a hot tub and I looked forward to relaxing in the warm water, gazing at the panorama of stars on what would be a moonless night.
Seeing the multitude of stars always puts everything in perspective.
I have two dogs, Sampson, a big yellow lab who was about to turn seven years old, and Scout, a silver lab about 1 ½ years old who’s very rambunctious and always ready to play. Scout is an Alpha who took charge from when we first got him, and Sampson, being a gentle, sweet, submissive dog, didn’t take too kindly to Scout when we first brought him, and still has trouble with him from time to time due to Scout’s way of teasing and harassing him. Likely an Alpha male dog trait, establishing that it’s now his territory.
Since Scout has tagged me as his #1, the dynamics have changed, and I don’t get a lot of time with Sampson. Fortunately, Jesseca’s mother, Sharon, gives Sampson a lot of love and helps take care of him. I knew I wanted to take Sampson with me on the retreat. He wasn’t used to riding in the car for over two hours, so he was so happy when we finally arrived.
The retreat was new territory for him, so he sniffed around and gave it a good once-over, then settled in.
That evening was relatively cool, so I strolled outside to relax in the soothing, warm water of the hot tub. Sampson laid nearby, keeping watch over the stretch of desert before us while I laid back and gazed at the stars.
I could make out two planets, Jupiter and Venus, both standing out among the now blackened sky randomly littered with innumerable points of light. What an astounding privilege to be witnessing this vast universe surrounded by the warm embrace of the water.
For those moments, life was complete. My body felt merged with the water such that I could not differentiate one from the other. The saltwater tub made my body feel very buoyant. I closed my eyes and felt both arms gradually floating a few inches away from my body. As you can imagine, it was so pleasurable to be so completely in my body, in a “no thought” zone.
Then I became aware of a strange sensation. I could feel an energetic field around both arms, slowly rising from my skin, as if something was emerging from my arms. At first, I assumed it was simply an amplified sensation of floating, but soon I heard my inner voice, the voice of the guide I call the Teacher say, “This is how it will feel when you die—your soul leaving your body. You’re not dying now, but you’re experiencing a preview of what that will be like.”
Captured by the sensation that the voice was addressing, I came up with a brilliant response that I expressed aloud: “Wow!” That was the only thing I could say, delighted that I was given this “preview.” I felt so grateful and elated that I stayed present with this sensation for a while longer.
I learnt that no matter the manner of death, there will be a conscious awareness during those final moments of the soul leaving the body. I felt completely appreciative of that sensory revelation as to what I (or anyone) will feel on that last exhalation, surrender, and release.
It was reassuring to know what I already knew in my heart of hearts – that there is absolutely nothing to fear about death, although most everyone carries a deep instinctual fear of the end of survival.
I know now that it is the body that dies—not the soul.