The Omega Challenge: Consciousness and personal identity

The Omega Challenge:

In a recent post Ilia answers a question about consciousness and personal identity in the perspective of human immortality. On your own or as a group we invite you to reflect on the following questions and share your thoughts  in the comments section below:

  • How does consciousness of death shape your present life?
  • What are your deepest fears about death?
  • How can a renewed sense of immortality shape our present life and world?
  • If we knew that one’s death makes a difference to the eternal life of God (we either enhance God’s life or diminish it), would we live our earth lives differently?
  • How do we understand this statement: How we die is how we live?



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  1. Mario G Alberico on July 22, 2019 at 9:50 am

    The best way to answer these questions is to share my reflection given after the death of my best friend a few weeks ago.

    “Tony was one of my best friends and closet people in my life. We shared an intimate relationship that was truly unique in my lifetime, and we used the words “Brother” and “I love you” in nearly every text and every conversation we had. In my life I have lost my Dad, my in-laws Pop and Marilyn, and my brothers Butch and Martin (all too soon). Losing my dear friend Tony Peterson is like the loss of a family member, and the pain cuts so deep and differently because of the the unique things we had in common, and shared in a friendship that lasted 25 years. I miss him terribly. Tony’s presence in my life made me a better person. He had ability to guide me back on track when he saw that I needed it most, and it was always done mired in love and grace.

    Over the past few years we spoke about death, especially when it was to come as our own. Each year we would sit down in January and Tony would declare the word for that year. The last few were Hope, Healing, and this year, Grace. As I reflect on our conversations about death I can truly say that when we were together the day before he moved through the thin veil between life and life he was living Grace. That day and every day since the words that keep coming to me are what Tony was talking about with me over these past years. “To die well and to die with dignity.” And I now understand what he meant in our conversations that is was not for us that we die well, it is for the people we love. During the last day with him he gave me a sublime gift among the terrible sadness that I felt. It was the strange blessing of joy, that in my experience, could only come from his love for me. He righted my path in his death and proved to me the existence of life after life as truth. That’s the man who was my fiend.”

  2. Mary Pat Jones on July 22, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    I have been blessed with the gift of living into my sixty’s and seventies. My spiritual life has always beckoned me to remain close. These twelve years have allowed me to experience deep grief and deep joy, deep love and deep loneliness. I’ve been allowed to nurture a deeply contemplative era and more than anything I realize how alive we really can become even as our bodies can no longer keep up at the pace we so greatly enjoyed!

    I was fortunate to be present with the dying beginning at age seventeen. In my forties I was able to coordinate a hospice program while being a primary hospice nurse. I hope to be a hospice recipient myself someday. I pray for us to be able to live into our faith no matter the obstacles. Mary Mrozowski, a close associate and prime mover of Fr. Thomas Keating’s work was the “founding genius” behind the powerful Welcoming Prayer. I learned of her through Cynthia Bourgeault’s amazing book; Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, which became my close companion and still is! Both Cynthia and Mary taught us the depth of kenosis and abandonment in Centering Prayer. Mary’s litany or mantra was: I let go of my desire for Security and Survival, I let go of my desire for Esteem and Affection, I let go of Power and Control, I let go of my desire to Change the situation. Make no mistake this does Not mean we don’t take action. When this prayer is embraced over time we become freer to act without fear, but our attachment to outcome is gradually released. I know our call to love greatly continues beyond death, and this awareness allows us to remain present here now.

    I am so grateful to have had these great teachers including Ilia. I am closer to all because of them. I can embrace all, both the sadness and deep joy because of their guidance. Paradox abounds. Do not fear, Love envelops this planet and all others in spite of our self imposed limits. Suffering is our great teacher, Be Not afraid, I go before you and with you always!

  3. Judi on July 24, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    What are your greatest fears about death?

    I worked as a hospital chaplain for about 10 years in the hospital setting, and that has significantly shaped my perspective on death. Theological readings and study, and my Franciscan-informed faith have also contributed. At bottom, I am not afraid of death. I do consider it to be a part of the life cycle, and I am aware that we humans engage in actions, choices, and decisions, that can consequences that have an impact on others, sometimes fatally. What is most important to me is not death, but the process of dying. It saddens me to report that I have witnessed far too many deaths in sterile medical environments that utterly failed to acknowledge the dignity of the dying person and the sorrow of that person’s family. There is no good reason for such deaths, ever.

    How does consciousness of death shape your present life?

    I am aware of the possibility of death daily. I strive – often without a whole lot of success, but I try! – to live in the present moment; to live in love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness; and to end each day with the by remember the day’s blessings in the context of knowing that another precious day of my life has come to a close.

    How can a renewed sense of immortality shape our present life and world?
    Someone shared an analogy with me of life after death as a matter of climbing into the stands at a track arena after having run the race that is our life. I love this image, because I have hope that in some way when we leave this life there is reunion and community. I don't think very much about it, nor do I ever try to figure out how it might actually be experienced. (The essay that Ilia wrote to prompt these questions made my brain hurt. Enough said.) Instead, I contemplate the idea that Love created and sustains both essence and existence, and when I do, it makes sense to me that we are somehow ~ in a way that is far beyond our human capacity to imagine or conceptualize ~ enfolded back into Love when we leave this realm, while also retaining a sense of personal consciousness.

    Again, this idea comforts me.

    I think that for most people reimagining life after death in this way (or even embracing God as Energy that is mystery, companionship and within each of us and all that exists) would be a huge ask. Too huge. So many draw comfort from the boxes in which they have placed God and themselves.


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