Have you ever thought of how you would like to be when you die? What would you like to be feeling, doing, thinking? Who would you wish to have beside you? How would your unfinished business be? I believe people all have thought of these things, but what we don’t think about as frequently is that our desires about death are not guaranteed. Things transpire not according to our wishes but according to divine laws, and our sense of being a separate entity could end at any moment.
Is there anything that remains of the personal self after death? How can this be cultivated? How can our connection with all that will live on after our death be kindled as well? Spinning and weaving this tapestry of karma, Life, Death, and the Afterlife are themes to explore in the process of planned ancestorhood.
Planned Ancestorhood, a relational experience group, open to the public, was meant to meet every Thursday evening at 7pm at Together To Get Her Studios, Center for the Sacred Path of Subjectivity. Nobody signed up, so the work rests with me, and all of us alone, all welcome to move from subconscious to conscious participation in the fabric of memory and forgetting.
It is ok to be forgotten, because the landscape remains. Those are the ancestors, the creatures of nature found in the changing of the seasons, the music of the spheres, the mood and force of the weather. Human beings are of course creatures of nature too, and we can learn to be ancestors by participating in the environment without causing harm. I am in the planning stages of this, because my lifestyle does cause harm. I still eat meat for example, and use fossil fuels, handle money and eat GMO food, so it is possible that I will be an elder, but not reach the stage of ancestor. I have my work cut out for me.
Planned Ancestor-hood is a group devoted to cultivating awareness of our own mortality. We will engage in contemplative practices based on phenomenological experience, dialogue and artistic activities, which draw attention to the symbols of karmic laws, spelled out for us through the relationships, challenges, and questions we encounter in our ordinary life. The group is open to anyone over the age of 18, exceptions considered. There are no prerequisites, other than curiosity, willingness to honestly reflect what is happening in the circle process, and courage to practice TOGETHER watching each other die, rather than merely talk about what we intend to practice later. The format will be familiar each time, beginning with a brief mindfulness practice to allow each member to align with their own spiritual affiliations and recent admonishions or signs, followed by an artistic exercise and sharing/discussion, then setting intentions for the week to come and a closing.
The purpose of the group is to cultivate an awareness of change and to practice living more fully in the present moment. Perception plus attitude invite hints from the universe, about why we were born, what our fruit is to bear, and how would be becoming of us to die. They greet us at every turn. Like panning for gold, it is important to pause and dedicate time for these meanings to reveal themselves, the meaning of the weighted world itself, not our projections of meaning. Working with others is particularly clarifying when discerning what truly matters and what is inconsequential. This will vary per individual and what is relevant to you in your personal journey right now.
Where: Together Together Studios, Center for the Sacred Path of Creativity, 10 Beasom Rd, Lyndeborough NH, 03082, USA
When: Thursday evenings, 7:00-8:30pm
Price: $20 walk-in session, $100 six sessions
End-of-Life Ceremony: click here for more information
A note on Planned Ancestorhood flyer:
A few people have asked me why there is a photo of a dog’s rear end on the advertisement for this group. Inhabiting a mind/body organism is much like training a dog. On many occasions I have fallen prey to the temptation to believe I control my mind and body. There is always a backlash to this, the organic world’s way of reminding me that the mind/body corresponds to it’s own rules and not the rules of personal volition. This is one of the things I love about Buddhism which reminds us that ‘I have not gone beyond aging, sickness and death.’ Other religions as well warn of the dangers of identifying with physical reality or the delusions of the still-evolving mind. The white poodle in the Planned Ancestorhood flyer is intended to be a humorous symbol of the challenge we all face to live as spirits in a body. Like a pet, the body will have a much shorter lifespan than the ultimate Self. While the body is a lovely companion, it is instinctual and limited to planes of existence which the human soul can transcend.