I Know What It's Like To Be Dead -- John Lennon
There Is No Death
by Jean Teeters

As regards to those who have passed into the light, whom you want to help, follow them with your love, remembering that they are still the same people, minus the outer limiting shroud or body. Serve them, but seek not that they should serve your need of them. Go to them, but seek not to bring them back to you.*

For most of my life I suffered with the burden of having a tremendous fear of death. It hung over me like a gossamer veil of woe, waiting to present itself to me whenever I reached a yet another darkened corner of human experience.

It took the arrival of my true Spiritual Guru for me to finally put this fear to rest. The first thing this being said to me was “there is no death,” and in some miraculous way I was at last able to have a clear realization that this was indeed the truth.

“I speak about Death as one who knows the matter from the outer world appearance and the inner life expression: There is no death.” ~ The Ascended Master Djwhal Khul

I imagine that all human beings have some fear of death. John Lennon voiced his fear of death many times throughout his life; it reared its ugly head at him numerous times throughout his experience.

In his youth, John seemed to use rebelliousness as an antidote to his fear of death, and on some occasions he acted out in dangerous behaviors that could even be considered life threatening.

John was shattered at the age of sixteen, when his mother was hit by a car and killed in front of his Aunt Mimi’s house.

Said John: “The copper came to the door to tell us about the accident. It was just like it’s supposed to be, the way it is in the films. Asking if I was her son and all that. Then he told us, and we both went white. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I thought, I’ve got no responsibilities to anyone now.”

Death releases the individualized life into a less cramped and confined existence, and eventually--when the death process has been applied to all the three vehicles in the three worlds--into the life of universality. This is a point of inexpressible bliss.*

His uncle George (Aunt Mimi’s husband), who he was quite close to, also died while John was in his teens. Then he was hit with the death of his closet friend, Stuart Sutcliffe, in 1962. Friends who witnessed John’s reaction to that shocking news, said he took it extremely hard.

The swirl of Beatlemania, with its unparalleled level of worldwide fame and success, took hold of John’s life and he stated many times that those years passed for him like a blurry, twisted time of near-insanity. It clearly took a heavy toll on his body, mind and spirit.

But by the psychedelic sixties, John’s heavy use of hallucinogens, coupled with his search for spiritual truth, led not only to an expansive personal cycle, but also to a period of high artistic achievement in his work.

She Said, She Said was written about an unpleasant experience that happened during an LSD trip on The Beatles American tour in 1966. Peter Fonda, one of the house guests who visited while the boys were in Hollywood, kept whispering to John, “I know what it’s like to be dead.” Back home in England, John’s creative mind turned Fonda’s disturbing ramble into fodder for one of his best early psychedelic songs.

From the same era, Tomorrow Never Knows is perhaps the most strange and eerie pop song of all time. That’s not surprising, since it explores, in a poetic way, the biggest mystery known to man: the experience of death. The first line of the first verse of the song was taken directly from Timothy Leary’s book, The Psychedelic Experience, an adaptation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead:

Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying
Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void
It is shining, it is shining

Another surprising death, that of Beatles’ manager and good friend, Brian Epstein, took place in the late summer of 1967. The Beatles were attending a series of lectures by the Mararishi Mahesh Yogi in Wales, and the press was on hand to shine the bright camera lights on the dazed, ashen faces of John, George and Ringo as they dealt with the shocking news. They attempted to apply the Mararishi’s spiritual guidance to the situation, keeping a stiff upper lip, but later John spoke in a different tone regarding Brian’s passing.

Said John: “I had the feeling that anybody has when somebody close to them dies; there is a sort of little hysterical, sort of hee, hee, ‘I’m glad it’s not me’ or something in it, the funny feeling when somebody close to you dies. I don’t know whether you’ve had it, but I’ve had a lot of people die around me and the other feeling is, ‘What the fuck? What can I do?’ ”

This, our present Cycle, is the end of an age, and the next two hundred years will see the abolition of death, as we now understand that great transition, and the establishing of the fact of the soul’s existence. ***

While in India, at the Mararishi’s ashram, John wrote a number of songs that later appeared on The Beatles' White Album. The tone of these songs indicated that John was more confused and depressed than ever about life. References to death and suicide, such as “Yes, I’m lonely, wanna die” and “I feel so suicidal, even hate my rock and roll,” from Yer Blues, made it quite clear that John was still very troubled, even though the message was delivered in a rather tongue-in-cheek fashion.

John’s search for spiritual truth would continue within his earth-rattling relationship with Yoko Ono. Together they explored a wide range of esoteric subjects and concepts, delving deeply into mysticism, metaphysics and the occult.

Early in his solo career John wrote Instant Karma, a song that deals with a lot of issues that were on his mind at the time. In this one, however, his take on the hereafter is presented in a somewhat brighter fashion:

We all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yes, we all shine on
On and on and on and on

During the last few months of his life, John talked publicly about death.

Said John: “You know, I used to worry about death when I was a kid, now the fear of it means less and less to me. It seems as you get older, you worry less and less about death.

“We’re going to live, or we’re going to die. If we’re dead, we’re going to have to deal with that. If we’re alive, we’re going to have to deal with being alive.”

Death, if we could but realize it, is one of our most practiced activities. We have died many times, and we shall die again and again. Death is essentially a matter of consciousness. We are conscious one moment on the physical plane, and a moment later we have withdrawn onto another plane and are actively conscious there. Just as long as our consciousness is identified with the form aspect, death will hold for us its ancient terror. Just as soon as we know ourselves to be souls, and find that we are capable of focusing our consciousness or sense of awareness in any form or any plane at will, or in any direction within the form of God, we shall no longer know death.**

John also voiced his fear of death in regard to Yoko.

Said John: “I just have one hope: that I die before Yoko does because we have become so much of an equation together that I don’t think I would have the strength to go on without her. Oh, I don’t mean I would commit suicide; I just mean life would be so empty. I hope I die before Yoko, because if Yoko died I wouldn’t know how to survive. I couldn’t carry on.”

One of the factors governing incarnation is the presence of what is called the will-to-live; when that is to be found, and when it is powerful in man, he is strongly anchored upon the physical plane; when that is not strongly present or is withdrawn, the man dies. Life in the physical body is preserved, technically and occultly, under the impulse of the powerful will-to-be of the incarnated spiritual man.*

In the end, John seemed to have given up trying to intellectually understand many of the great mysteries of life, accepting that there are things that will continue to remain unknown until one reaches a certain level of understanding. And that is a very good thing: it is one of the signs of a deep-seated grounding of higher consciousness within a human being.

Said John: “It’s fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that--it’s all illusion. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it’s unknown and it’s plain sailing. Everything is unknown--then you’re dead ahead of the game.”

It is the physical plane life that is the purgatory, and life experience that is the school of drastic discipline. Let us not fear death, or that which lies beyond it. The wise disciple labors in the field of service, but looks forward steadily to the dawn of the ‘clear cold light’ into which he will some day enter, and so close the chapter for a while upon the fever and the friction and the pain of earth existence.*

On December 8, 1980, when John Lennon entered into the experience of physical death, the world went into a consensus state of shock. He represented so much to so many who were a part of his generation and those beyond. Cries went out around the globe of “why?” It was like a dark cloud had temporarily descended upon the planet as the human race took its time to grieve.

Death appears frequently to be so purposeless; that is because the intention of the soul is not known; past development through the process of incarnation, remains a hidden matter; ancient heredities and environments are ignored, and recognition of the voice of the soul is not yet generally developed. Seek to arrive at a new slant upon the subject, and see law and purpose and the beauty of intention in what has hitherto been a terror and a major fear.*

I speak about Death as one who knows the matter from the outer world appearance and the inner life expression: There is no death. There is, as you know, entrance into a fuller life. There is a freedom from the handicaps of the fleshy vehicle. The rending process so much dreaded, does not exist, except in the cases of violent and sudden death, and then the only disagreeables are an instant and overwhelming sense of imminent peril and destruction and something closely approaching an electric shock. No more.*

John Lennon’s spirit continues to have a presence in the world. When he passed into spirit, he left behind an extraordinary legacy of music, art, humor and philosophy that comes only from a life well-lived. Could a brightness, such as that exuded by the person known to so many as John Lennon, ever be extinguished? I trust that it can’t. And I trust that all of us, as spiritual beings, will in one way or another continue to shine on into eternity.

Jean Teeters
December 8, 2003

‡Lyrics by John Lennon copyright © The John Lennon Estate 2003
Original essay text copyright © 2003-2008 Jean Teeters / AbsoluteElsewhere.net
John Lennon quotes from “John Lennon In His Own Words” compiled by Miles (copyright © 1994 Omnibus Press) and “Lennon Remembers” by Jann S. Wenner (copyright © 1971 Jann S. Wenner)
Spiritual quotes from *Serving Humanity (copyright © 1972 Lucis Trust), **Ponder On This (copyright © 1971 Lucis Trust), and ***Death: The Great Adventure (copyright © 1985 Lucis Trust), compilation volumes extracted from the original books of Alice A. Bailey

Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Psychedelic Experience
The Beatles: Revolver
The Beatles: White Album
John Lennon: Imagine (Remastered)