September 7, 2015
I wanted to say a few words that might be helpful in your processing of my death, wherever you are with it in your feeling right now.
First, I want you to understand that the death process itself – to a point anyway – is actually well familiar to me. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time “off the body” and by that I mean in the etheric body, or ghost body – hovering over it, stepping off it, walking around my room and outside where I could observe my physical body at a distance, also interacting with other ghosts, or so-called “deceased” people, and in a number of cases, helping some of the truly bound into a transition “upward”, into a far greater process than simply meandering around the surface of the earth in a mostly semi-bewildered state. But there have also been an equal number of ghosts who are largely happy where they are, and are conscious, relational, conversational, and 100% as normal and functional as we are. An amusing thing.
I’ve also spent an even greater amount of time in what is sometimes called the astral or what’s effectively an inter-dimensional domain. This astral domain of life is entirely real and self-existing, as real as anything you think real on this earth, and I think it’s maybe best characterized by a small chapter toward the end of Autobiography of a Yogi, where Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yukteshwar, elaborates for many pages of detail his experience of this astral domain. Among existing first-hand accounts from authentic gurus, I’ve found this one to be the most accurate. The astral dimension of life is pretty much like he recounts it. If you strip his communication of some of the culturally Indian mythology and language, it is exactly the way it is.
I’m telling you this not to imply any spiritual advancement on my part or to make any of you think I’ve simply lost control of my faculties. You may find it all preposterous, but you’ll see in time that all of what I’m saying is true. I mention it here because it’s relevant. Exhaustive time spent outside the physical body in either proximate, (ghost and subtle) or distant (astral spaces), profoundly changes your relationship to human death, and even the idea of losing your bodily life becomes a matter of indifference. In some way, death as we conceive it, does not occur at all. You simply transition into new forms of more subtle, yet incarnate experience, and most often a physical rebirth into the form that matches your evolutionary adaptation, typically human in our cases.
Anyway, all this time spent ‘off the body’ has, over the decades, radically altered my feeling for and understanding of what death actually is – a “transition” – as my Guru accurately puts it – and not at all an ending. What is interesting is that both ghosts and astral or inter-dimensional beings view themselves as “the actually living” and all of humanity as being in a kind of temporary hallucination or dream-state.
The gross physical realm where we live and function is actually felt and seen by beings in a more subtle domain to be less real or even in some ways unreal. So it is the exact opposite of our own point of view, which claims that anything beyond the gross physical is likely illusory or even imaginary. In any case, you’ll see what I’m talking about and have no doubts about it at all when you’re dead. One of the many surprises you’ll find is that the thing that seems least real of all is the very life you just left behind. You turn your head back, looking at all that you have loved, cherished, and been so attached to, and you will laugh, because it seems suddenly and absolutely like a mere dream. And you love it still, without any difference, but it is yet a dream, and obviously so. I’ll leave that with you to contemplate.
Finally, I wanted you to know just how happy and deeply resolved I am about this entire event of transition. The last six months especially and even the last month in particular have been among the most transformative of my life, and in the most precious and positive of ways. Many dimensions of my person that were in any way in conflict or simply not internally resolved, have suddenly resolved themselves to an absolute degree, putting me in a place of such deep joy I can barely communicate it.
Why has this occurred? I can’t say. The depth of peace and love in me within is so deep that I’ve almost felt it as a final spiritual gift of some kind from the source of all such gifts in my life, my still Spiritually-Living Guru. I’ve intentionally pushed away that thought in the last months so it doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy about some kind of deep resolution before an upcoming death—which I’ve been fighting against to the last. But if I am dead, which I will be as you’re reading this, then yes, it was a kind of prophetic event of some kind, but what a happy one!
I mean to say that if I am dead, it could not have come at a better time. That seems strange to say, but it’s logical from where I stand. My life is culminating right now in such an extraordinary way. Whether this moment leads to death, or even more life and the continued offering to the world of whatever authentic gifts I have – either outcome is “right”. Either seems both true and deeply appropriate to me. Of course, I have, and always will choose life. Life is a blessing to always cherish and preserve. But just know that if death came, it came in the most gentle of ways, and with colossal and uncanny gifts to me prior to its to sweet arrival.
I want to say that nothing has fueled my will to live more during this very long trial than how my closest friends and family have responded to this whole drama. The outpouring of energy, service, kindness, contemplative prayer on my behalf, and a river flow of love my way has been of such a volume that it’s been truly difficult to receive at times. I wish I could say in words or poetry how much I love each of you, and just how powerfully that love for you flows inside of me, but I can’t. It’s a thing beyond speech. Just know that I’ve received this love of yours deeply and if there were literally nothing else in my life experience, it alone would have made my life worth living.
I’ve found in all of this that the love we share between us is about as close to the true sacred as it gets. It’s a force to be reckoned with and if you learn nothing else from the ordeal of cancer, you’ll learn this. Nothing breaks my heart more than to feel the loss of my friends in the Way and everywhere. All else seems miniscule by comparison.
For my friends everywhere, I want them to know that my death was an “easy death”. My life has been Blessed beyond belief, over and over again in a tidal wave of grace. I have nothing but gratitude for it. My death, not unexpectedly is equally Blessed. I find Bhagavan, my Sat-Guru, easily—on this side or the other. Or perhaps better said – He’s Always Finding me. I do not know what else to ask for in this life. Truly, there is nothing else.
I sign this letter with all, all of love to you.
I am at peace, in a deep rest, and my heart is Joyful.
I hope you will always remember how much I loved you.
I loved you with everything I have.
I so much look forward to seeing you again.
And, yes, it will be soon.
With all my love and a heart broken with the sheer joy of all of it, I bow down low, with the humility of my monk’s interior, to my Guru, to my brothers and sisters in the Way, and to each and every one who has ever touched my hand and said without a word, I am with you.
February 7th, 1966 - September 7th, 2015
Jeff's life and passing brought many people together. We invite anyone who knew Jeff to add their stories about him freely here, such that this memorial site will soon comprise a rich collaborative tribute to our beloved friend.
The video slideshow celebrating Jeff's life above, lovingly put together by Cere Buntin, features music he enjoyed by Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, The War On Drugs and The Flaming Lips.
As Hef was such a remarkable curator of people, as well as a formidable intellect, it will be interesting to share some of what we each talked about with him, and what effect his life and passing had on each of us.