Q: If I feel oneness, will I still feel that sense of oneness after my death? Do Buddha, Ramana, or Jesus still feel the oneness as they would have felt it when they were alive?
A: This is a good question, although no one can really answer it until they die. There are some mysteries that are meant to be mysteries. When it comes to something like death, what we don’t know will always be more than what we do know. Not knowing something can actually be very rich and exciting.
So far, based on my experience with living, my guess is that there is no formula for what happens when we die. Just as everyone’s experience of life is unique, it seems likely that everyone’s experience of death would also be unique. Some people might dissolve back into the oneness without any trace of individuality remaining. Others might have an expanded sense of their true nature but with a sense of identity as someone who is experiencing the vastness of Being. And others might retain a strong sense of individual existence, which might suggest that they would reincarnate again to satisfy their remaining karma or individual desires.
We all eventually get to find out what happens when we die. In the meantime, we have the mystery of what is going to happen before we die! Will I fall in love today? Will I be happy or sad today? Will I realize my true nature today? There are endless small mysteries to be discovered every day and even some big mysteries. Your question is a good one because it shows curiosity. Since life and death are so unpredictable and unknowable, your curiosity can serve you much better than any answer to your questions. It can be very surprising to discover that questions are almost always more satisfying than answers.
Someone used the contact form on here to send me the following question:
I can't begin to thank you for your free ebooks and writings. Your message just sings so beautifully to me. It answers the questions in the perfect order even before I can ask the questions. Last week while reading your latest ebook, it was seen with incredible ease that the thoughts in my head were not who I am and now, I know as fact that only presence exists. I can't even go to my mind without something coming up and keeping me in the moment. Thoughts still arise, but very few "I" thoughts, and those dissipate in a split second. I do have a question regarding "who I am". I have of course investigated this and read about this. I know as fact now that I am not my thoughts or body. I know "intellectually" that I am Presence Awareness. I say intellectually because I don't yet sense it as fact. I wonder if part of me still sees it (Awareness) as an object of some sort? I have felt/experinced glimpses of it in past - a complete feeling that everything was One and connected (air, people, trees, birds, etc), but that only felt like a passing experience.
Do you have any additional pointers I could read?
And here is my response:
This is a very good question, as many people have grasped the Oneness and their true nature as Awareness intellectually, but are concerned that it is not a common or ongoing experience for them, and so the sense of knowing still seems tenuous or vague. It also seems that there is often a gap between an intellectual knowing and a more grounded, whole being kind of knowing. And the bridge between these two is very simply repeated experiences of the bigger truth. We tend to only really know something that we have experienced a lot.
Everyone has different amounts of experience that is required for that knowing to be felt in an ongoing way. A simple example is asking how many times doing something it would take for you to really know that you now know how to perform some new skill like flying an airplane. If you piloted an airplane once for 2 minutes, would you feel that you know how to fly an airplane? Hopefully not! But if you had flown solo many times, then you would probably start to have an ongoing sense that you know how to fly an airplane.
So it does boil down to having lots of experiences of Oneness and Presence. That is what finally shifts someone's inner sense of knowing. At a certain point the sense of knowing shifts from being an intellectual knowing to a deeper knowing "in your bones". In the case of the knowing of Presence or Oneness, this shift can happen from several repeated experiences of Presence or very occasionally it can happen from one very strong or long lasting experience of the Oneness of Being. And of course everyone wants to have a single big experience that does the trick, but from my many conversations with people undergoing the shift, I have observed that it more often happens gradually or in a series of experiences.
There is one more point I would share with you. The important thing is the shift to a deep sense of inner knowing of the truth. The experiences of Oneness are wonderful and are of great service to this shift, but the experiences are not really that important in and of themselves. Like every other experience, the experience of Presence comes and goes. And any effort to get or keep these experiences will cause you to suffer pretty much in the same way as efforting to get or keep any other ordinary experience...