I am fortunate to have had many experiences related to death and its inseparable companion, life. In Damanhurian philosophy, as in the philosophies of ancient civilizations and indigenous peoples, death and life are two sides of the same coin because both are part of the perpetual motion that drives every being to renew itself. However, it is one thing to know something conceptually, and it is another to experience it directly through your own skin. When this happens, knowledge becomes experience and is able to transmit its true essence.

I encountered death for the first time on a hot summer day near a river. I was looking for a quiet bay with a Damanhurian brother who didn’t know how to swim. While walking on the rocks near an impetuous waterfall, I slipped into a pool dug out in the stone by the force of the water. The walls of the surrounding rock were smooth and lacking handholds. The overwhelming flow of the river was channeled into another waterfall, about 10 meters from the point where I fell, with a fall of another 5 meters onto the rocks. I realized that I could have died in that moment when I fell into the water. Suddenly, a deep calm entered into me and saturated all my cells.

After tumbling into the impetuous flow, I resurfaced a few meters away near the next waterfall. The force of water pushed me against the smooth wall of the river, and it was inexorably leading me towards the next fall. At that moment, I experienced something that I have never again experienced in my life. I felt that something inside me was “opening.” I perceived that life and death, so bonded until that moment, were separating. I distinctly felt these two directions separating, not only within me but also around me, as if all the molecules involved in this event were vibrating under its influence. This unique, indescribable and powerful feeling was devoid of any weakness, suffering or fear. I was leaning against the stone, immobile in the lashing of the current, with my body releasing its attempts at resistance for some very long instants. I think I felt what dry leaves feel when they float still in the middle of the river’s whirling, for the simple fact of not creating any friction with the force of the water. The only simple thought present for this entire time was, “It’s just a matter of moments.”

Meanwhile, my friend had called for help and other people had come. He saw me reappear next to the waterfall and moved in my direction to try and offer me a handhold. He was held by others in a chain so as to not slip in the water. When he stuck out his foot to me (while the others held him by the arms) I grabbed it as if I were touching a delicate crystal that could break from moment to moment. I knew that if I grabbed on more strongly, the current would have swept me away. They pulled me up like this, slowly and gently. I felt the film close, the one that a moment before was almost completely divided. Everything went back to being compact, and I was a whole being again, united with the reality around me.

I had already reflected on death before that episode, because in Damanhur we prepare to experience this passage with awareness, but from that day on, something has changed forever. I know that when death comes, an enormous force will flow from me and will allow me to experience this transition with gentleness and firmness. I have experienced first hand how death reawakens a power hidden within us that is only waiting to be expressed.

I hope this story allows you to imagine death from a new perspective. If you would like to share your thoughts or related experiences, please write. Thank you!