Life & Death

Life & Death

Jul 11, 2021

October 22, 2012, by Dr. Glen Swartwout

According to recent research findings, “the more we actively contemplate mortality, the more we reject socially imposed goals such as wealth or fame and focus instead on personal growth or the cultivation of positive relationships.” (New Scientist magazine, issue 2887, page 38-40)

Traditionally, great value has been found in the contemplation of the “four last things”: Heaven, Hell, Death, and Judgement… also known as the novissima, or the newest things, as they are the newest things we have yet to fully experience in this life!



Childbirth (Photo credit: popularpatty)

Death itself is a transition from one state of life to the next, very much like birth. In the birthing process, we go through tremendous suffering and emerge into a world full of newness, brighter light, a whole new range of colors and dimensions. We take our first breath and begin feeding orally at our mother’s breasts. What an amazing transition, with so much newness to take in, so much to learn. At first glance, we might question the value of the suffering inherent in the process, but if we look at babies born by Cesarian section, who avoid the tremendous pressures of squeezing between the mother’s pelvic bones, we find that the stress of vaginal birth is essential in initiating the normal development of the human immune system!

When we die, is the suffering the enemy… or a messenger? A man came to Hawaii to die… with his daughter. He left behind a life of suffering, with decades of tobacco and alcohol. He brought with him the will to experience something new, as well as a doctor’s prescription for 6 weeks in which to do it. He had multi-systemic metastatic cancer and was in great pain even on morphine. Medically, there was no further treatment for his health, and morphine was the last resort to managing his intractable pain. Death was inevitable, so the medical goal was merely to minimize or dull his conscious awareness of his suffering.

His daughter fed him fresh raw vegetable juices, and a set of remedies that we had designed to measurably produce a state of coherence in his acupuncture meridian system. In six weeks, when he would have been expected to pass away on the morphine treatment, he was actually pain-free. And completely off morphine.

He had another six months, fully present, and pain and morphine-free, with his daughter. In fact, the morning of the day he passed away, he was aware that it was his time, and he asked his daughter to stay home from work to be with him that day. He passed on peacefully, consciously at noon, after taking a few hours to say goodbye.

Death is not the enemy. Neither is pain. Pain is seen in oriental medicine as a blockage of energy flow. It is a signal, a message that something is out of balance. The solution is to restore the flow and function of life. Healing is the way. Consciousness is the means. Coherence, the goal. Coherence is that which transcends time, space, and death.


Judgment is not just something we receive… it is what we give! If we are aware of it at all, we may think we are giving it to others, judging them. Yet we really can never fully know anyone else the way we know ourselves. All we ever experience of others exists within our own sensorium, our own mind, our own experience, as an effigy, a projection we make into the world of our own imagery. We make others in our own image. Literally.

So when I judge someone… what I am truly judging is a part of myself. These daily judgments are what come rushing upon me at the moment of transition, as I leave this biological body, detaching from its constraints of time and space upon my soul and my experience of myself. This is why we hear “Judge not, lest ye judge yourself.”

Acceptance is the state of coherence that transcends judgment. This process, centering in the heart, deals a death blow to the ego, our past patterns of experience, of how we know ourselves in relation to the “world out there.” Acceptance of all that is, just as it is, is the starting point for being able to make it better. As long as I am wanting things to be other than they are, whether I want something to increase or decrease, my emotional attachment prevents me from fully experiencing what truly is. When I become fully present here and now with what truly is, I enter a state of coherence with my environment, transcending self and 'other.' I am that I am. I am with God. I can engage an attitude of gratitude. I can live here in my heart now, at peace. No longer fighting against the war (meaning confusion) ‘outside’ myself, I am no longer part of the confusion.


Hell is within. Here. Now. Hell is the experience of separation from God. In 'the truth,' all things are in God. Heaven holds Hell in its prayers, in its awareness, in its heart. Hell is not being able to receive that love. The greatest mystery of creation is our separateness, our individuality, our free will as fractal cells in God’s divine body. God’s first creation, the thought of other, that most magnificent angel of separation, is essential to our ability to experience this life, to learn to love, and to make the active choice by our own will to come home to our source. Mirrored in the fall of man, we say “Oh happy fault” because, without the separation from the divine union that brought the potential for error, suffering, and death into this womb of heaven, we would not have been able to be redeemed as family with God. We would not be The Royalty Of The Heavens.


A meteor and galactic center of Milky Way gala...

A meteor and galactic center of Milky Way galaxy. The image was taken in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We see the star-lit sky at night and we say there is the Heavens, and so it is out there, as well. And yet Heaven is within. Even the perception of light from each star in the Heavens is seen and projected out there by our mind. Heaven is at hand. By our acts, we produce our own experience, by cause and effect in the Natural Law, the law of karma as it is called in the East. We reap what we sow… and so Heaven is at hand… and largely at our own hand.

When Jesus taught answered the question, “How shall we pray?”, he gave us the Lord’s Prayer. And within that prayer is another pointer to our relationship with Heaven. Most of us have prayed that prayer many times over the course of a lifetime, so we think we understand it but remember that when God speaks, there are infinite layers of meaning to be uncovered if we but look…

“Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed [Holy] be thy name.” the prayer begins… Jesus includes us in God’s family with the pronoun “Our” and by referring to the Creator as Father. And so God is in Heaven. But where exactly is that, in our minds? Is it projected into the stars, that virtually infinite ceiling of this Cathedral of the Heavens, God’s House? Of course, God is in all things and in all places, just not in the same way in each… God, like his creation, works in particulars. We are each unique individuals, irreplaceable in God’s world. And so, in a variety of ways, God is also present in us… By our thoughts, words, and actions, we can bring him more present. By analogy, God is always knocking on the door of our hearts, and it is up to us to let him in. Yes, we can invite Grace. In fact, we must if we are to open ourselves fully as a conduit to deliver its flow to this world in need.

But most properly, beyond the fact that God is in us, we are in God. We are in God as our very cells are in our body. We are the cells in God’s body. We are God’s eyes, God’s ears. We are God’s hands and God’s heart.

The Lord’s Prayer continues… “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, On Earth as it is in Heaven.”

Heaven, again… Does it simply mean, as it seems, that we are praying for the Grace for us human beings to align our wills with the Divine Will? Certainly, it seems to say that, in a sense, that is what Heaven is, that place where God’s Will is done. But if we stop there, we may be left with the impression that Heaven is “out there” as opposed to down here on Earth, where God’s will seem challenging enough to discern, let alone do… But when God uses a pronoun, in this case, “it”, it can be contemplated to refer to every possible it, and especially all the possible references within the same sentence. So we can remember when we recite the Lord’s Prayer, that we have a couple of ideas to contemplate:

“Thy Will be done on Earth, as Thy Will is done in Heaven.”


“Thy Will be done on Earth, as Earth is in Heaven.”

Yes. And remembering that we are in Heaven here on Earth, right here, right now, is one of the best reminders we can have… That bringing in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth… is in our hands.

Peace be to you, my beloveds!