Please read here about what Nahm called “terminal lucidity,” those moments of clear thinking and speech that occur just before death.
These eloquent openings seem glimpses of what awaits after death, as the person has a foot in each world. They are anointed moments, brinksmanship.
We might call the phenomenon “initial lucidity” rather than “terminal lucidity,” just as we celebrate “commencement” at the end of high school or university studies, not “termination.”
The words of dying men enforce attention
Like deep harmony.
Shakespeare, Richard II; II,i, 5-6
What is most interesting about this clarity, for our purposes, may not be the supposed mechanisms by which it happens but the goodness. In leaving incarnation, people mostly say loving, forgiving, connected things. The majority of reports are not about absence of pain, still less about grudges, but rather about the presence of relationship – to those still living, to those who have died before, or to a world of welcome – olam ha ba, in Hebrew, the world to come. We contemplate them, not only to reassure us about what we may enter at death, but to inform our lives here and now: to realize that the kindness of the dying could be our kindness – kind, kin, kinship – with all being.
As we move on from the Rosenberg maranasati work, we’ll be turning from death to life. We bounce back and forth, eventually living in the one world:
Angels (they say) would often not know whether
they moved among living or dead. The eternal current
sweeps all the ages, within it, through both the spheres,
forever, and resounds above them in both.
We’ll wonder, refreshed by our contemplation of the ultimate physical fragility, what we mean by “life” at all.
All blessings to all,