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Center for Action and Contemplation

Transition and Transformation

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Death and Resurrection: Week 2

Transition and Transformation
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Just as we have borne the image of the earthy one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. . . . Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. —1 Corinthians 15:49, 51-53

Father Thomas Keating reflected on the process and meaning of death:

Death and resurrection, in the Christian perspective at least, can never be separated, and . . . in a very real sense, death is resurrection.

Death seems to be a process of transformation.

The idea that something is dying needs to be investigated to see what it is. It is not we who are really dying but only the false self that is experiencing the end of its illusory view of life—our personal, homemade self, which has been the object of our efforts and is secretly present in virtually all of our good deeds.

What’s dying is not the deepest self, but our dependence and over-identification with the mental ego and its projects, and our cultural conditioning and over-identification with it, including our roles in life.

From this perspective, the dying process is the culmination or the peak of the whole development of the spiritual journey, in which total surrender to God involves the gift of life itself, as we know it.

For that reason it’s not really death, but life reaching out to a fullness that we can’t imagine from this side of the dying process.

So death is . . . the final completion of this process of becoming fully alive and manifesting the triumph of the grace of God in us. [1]

Death could be looked upon as the birth canal into eternal life. A little confining and scary, maybe, yet it’s the passage into a vastly fuller life. Eternal life means perfect happiness without space or time limitations. It is spaciousness itself. You begin to taste it in deep contemplative prayer. You realize that you don’t give it to yourself; it’s already within you. [2]

Our new body will be spiritualized and not limited to its present physical presence and limitations. One aspect of creation is that, once you have been born into this world, you never die because, as the Hindu religions teach, each of us possesses deep within us an inalienable spark of divine love. [The Song of Songs says that love is stronger than death (8:6).] That spark is the same energy that created the Big Bang. . . . [3]

Nothing is more certain than death. It can’t simply be a disaster. It’s rather a transition like all the other transitions and developments of human consciousness all the way up to unity with Ultimate Reality. The latter involves freedom from the senses and our thinking processes; in other words, entering into the simplicity of the divine energy that pours itself out into the world through continuing creation. The divine energy sustains us with immense love and patience through all the stages of consciousness. [4]

[1] Thomas Keating with Carl J. Arico, The Gift of Life: Death & Dying, Life & Living Companion Book (Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.: 2013), 12-13,

[2] Thomas Keating, From the Mind to the Heart (Temple Rock Company: 2017). Pages are not numbered. Available from

[3] Thomas Keating and Joseph Boyle with Lucette Verboven, World Without End (Bloomsbury: 2017), 83.

[4] Ibid., 87.

Image credit: Autumn Leaves (detail), Koan, 2018.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: As I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the hardest of times. —Parker Palmer
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