What the Angelus Silesius saying means is that whoever does not die before he dies, perishes when he dies. The reason is simple enough, if our consciousness is still stuck in identification with the body, we think we perish when the body dies, but if we have woken up to the universal awareness which the Course calls Salvation, or accepting the Atonement, and which tradition calls Enlightenment, or Awakening, we have already overcome the fear of dying, and moreover will be clear we are not our body. Conversely, the process of awakening is often experienced as a death experience at first, because we die as who we (thought we) were, to wake up as who we are in truth. In that transition what dies is our identification with the body. The awakening means that we remember who we are in truth.
The Course addresses this issue of identifying with the body, with the crucifixion, in many ways, including here:
Learn, then, the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words:
2 I am as God created me. 3 His Son can suffer nothing. 4 And I am His Son. (ACIM:T-31.VIII.5)and it makes clear the temptation really is the temptation of seeing our brothers, and therefore ourselves, as bodies, as individuals, separate and independent from God, as very perishable bodies, which denies that who we really are in truth is God's Son, one with him. In the New Testament account this is powerfully expressed in the baptism scene in the River Jordan, under John the Baptist, where Jesus sees the Heavens part, and hears the voice for God saying that he is "My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The Course will say that we remember in that moment of accepting the Atonement, that nothing really happened, that there was no separation. It is the moment of remembering of who we are in truth. And anyone who practices the Course has that recognition somewhere along the line, and while we may yet forget it plenty of times, there is no way back any longer, for it is no longer quite as deniable as it seemed to be before we consciously had such experience. And eventually the time comes to accept it once and for all.
Margot Krikhaar delivers a powerful description of this experience in her book, and in fact several times had the sense that it was like dying, but only in looking back could she now be of help to the next person by sharing her experiences. For while nobody can do it for you, as the experiences are completely unique to an individual, still we can be of help to one another once we live the butterfly, testifying to caterpillars of life after the chrysalis stage. So while we live like caterpillars, in our individual consciousness, all that seems ever so far fetched, but then we may be lucky enough to see a few glimpses along the way. Practicing forgiveness steadily is likely conducive to some moments of clarity, which then give us the strength to go on forgiving as we plow through the seemingly endless mess of the ego's Augias stables. In the end, the awakening then is the return to what was and is and always will be the truth of who we are:
1. Why wait for Heaven? 2 Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. 3 The light is in them now. 4 Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. 5 Light is not of the world, yet you who bear the light in you are alien here as well. 6 The light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own. 7 It is the only thing you bring with you from Him Who is your Source. 8 It shines in you because it lights your home, and leads you back to where it came from and you are at home. (ACIM:W.pI.188.1)Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.