My friend lay there; she had been in intensive care for a few days and was on the verge of departing this life. Her eyes closed, she appeared to be unaware of my presence. However, believing that the deathless indwelling spirit, which still held her chained to life, could hear and "see" me, I chatted of philosophy and our eternal pilgrimage through time and space. Looking at her inert body that had become so burdensome, I told her I would share her joy when she could finally be freed from this lump of clay and fly to the stars she so deeply loved. Then, suddenly, she opened her eyes and her lips quivered. She still could not talk but, looking into her eyes, the infinite spaces of space opened before me. I had touched eternity!
For that brief second it was so clear to me that all worries, all concerns were as naught. In the final analysis bodies, possessions, were ephemeral lumps of clay. Left was the only reality -- consciousness. Lying with a body unable to move, vital functions closing down, her eyes were alive, life and intelligence shone brightly, untouched by the absence of a useful vehicle. An illumining light shone for a minute and vibrated with the truth that altruism and charity were the only defining verities in time and space. As I stood there, I recognized with what futility I invested importance in the non-eternal. All too soon I too will be at that departure point and have only my consciousness to carry with me. What will be my baggage of life? What of value to the soul will I have to show for the years? I felt deeply blessed. My heart sang out:
Turn thine heart from all outer knowledge and hold thyself open for the knowledge of the spheres. . . .
Thou art a bird of paradise, free soul! . . .
Thou art free, see thou how beautiful are thy limbs.
Feel now how perfect is thy health.
Come away to the fire king, thy sufferings are passed. . . .
Fight no more, thou hast won Elysia. . . .
Oh, laugh, laugh, laugh. . . .
Oh! brilliant and happy soul! . . .
Oh, happy soul, soon must we part, for I must return . . .
I cannot enter where thou canst enter, beautiful Bird of Paradise; tell the Fire King when thou see'st him in his beauty that I languish to join him.
Now, good-bye, Brilliant-Bird, soar above, thou art free as air.
And as I said goodbye, I too, like the priest who chanted the above, asked her to greet the gods for me. I wished her "bon voyage" and told her we were parting for only a short while.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2002; copyright © 2001 Theosophical University Press)