Traditionally, Halloween is known for being the night when the veil between the worlds of the dead and alive is thinnest. The concept of dead and alive can be equated quite easily with awake and asleep. Indeed, the acronym R.I.P. found on headstones and obituaries stand for Rest in Peace, suggesting that death is a place of rest and rejuvenation.
This is ironic, though. If death is a place of rest, why do we fear it so much? Why do we cling so tightly to the suffering that comes with being alive?
Alan Wallace, the internationally acclaimed Buddhist teacher who is coming to our Summer conference, explains that within our human experience of being alive, our mind engages in an active mis-apprehension of reality. What he means by this is that we believe that there is a separation between ourselves and our environments. This leads to all sorts of destructive mind-sets, such as anxiety, insecurity, anger and disconnect. This mis-apprehension of reality dictates our thought processes, our reactions and our world view. Wallace explains that our perception of reality can be quite ‘localized’ and that “nothing exists in a de-contextualized, utterly independent self-contained fashion”. However, we believe that it does and this is where suffering stems from.
So, on this Halloween night and the days that follow, our celebration of the removal of the veil between worlds can be applied to our own experience of being alive. As the veil drops and thins, rejoice in our interconnection and the fact that every person, experience and transaction is being affected by thousands of influential conduits. There is no separation. Once we can see this and believe this, we are fully awake and at rest: the dead dancing in unison with the living.
(For more from B. Alan Wallace on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4HBg4jdRZU)