El-Branden Brazil

Photographer, Writer & Mystic Traveller

Posts tagged ‘death’

Believing In The Real

I have no time for beliefs in the supernatural anymore. I only believe in what is tangible and real in this moment. What lies beyond death will be what it will be at that time, but it has no relevance now, except as a pointless game of speculation.

If there is a God, then whatever it may be will be just as natural as I. A permutation of existence, all-encompassing, entirely universal, abstract and beyond the lexicon of language. God does not need to be called “God”. Likewise, I do not need to be called “I”.

We are continually faced with the inadequacy of language to encapsulate the whole without division or separation. The labels applied to things by words, blind us from seeing things as they truly are, often leading us into beliefs of delusion and fantasy. We have a tendency to fill in the gaps of our knowledge with fanciful ideas, however unproven, to comfort us.

What I am far more interested in are patterns of behaviour that transform the world we live right now. Actions based upon compassion and love, applied through a prism of wisdom, whether by a Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist… have very real effects upon our world. These behaviours should be cultivated and encouraged, because by nature they neutralise the effects of negative activities. They inspire, comfort and increase harmony within communities. We don’t need to have faith in speculative concepts, we just need to observe the results of positive actions, such as compassion. They are apparent, without the need to believe in anything supernatural. There is no reason to believe in the unreal, when the real is so much more magical. It is simply a matter of how we wish to see; a choice of perspective.

…Truth is the manifest of reality as it truly is, not what we wish it to be.

Blossom Blooming At A Zen Temple In Kamakura, Japan
Blossom Blooming At A Zen Temple In Kamakura, Japan
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Beyond The Threshold

Like a breeze
my mind whispers at my passing,
“That it is neither
here nor there
if you exist or are departed.”

I quake deeply
at the thought of dying.
That I would leave
no legacy
and be bereft from living.

Has my life
been void of value,
except a cog within a system
that neither cares
nor even listens?

And in grasping
on to every pulse,
hoping for life
to continue,
I scream in silence:

“Do not forget me!
For I did have
some worth.
That my life
was not for nothing!”

But no response returns,
except a paradox of thought:
That “I” was never really here,
therefore I’ll
never disappear.

And through this realisation
I see with vision pure,
a sacred revelation,
that I would remain forever
inseparable from the stars.

“I” sighs
one final time,
whilst it dissolves
into the Cosmos,
transcending near and far
away from delusions lost.

– By El-Branden Brazil

On The Banks Of The Nile At Twilight
On The Banks Of The Nile At Twilight
Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Zen Reflections

Whilst sitting with my Zen Master, something suddenly occurred to me:

Human life is exactly like a leaf on a tree. In Spring, it buds into existence. In Summer, it reaches its full potential, bright and green. In Autumn, it begins to lose it’s vibrancy, turning brown and falling to the ground below. In Winter, it decomposes and becomes one with the earth again.

This metaphor is perhaps obvious, but the difference is in how a human life and a leaf go through these changes. A leaf is without consciousness, and passes through the process of existing, very, very quietly and being what it simply is. Humans, by contrast, manifest great anguish as we grasp desperately to what will inevitably be lost. If only we could remain silent like a leaf, being the thing as it is, with the sweet clarity of Truth and without the grandiose delusions of self.

Leaves & Tiles At A Zen Temple

Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Thresholds To Secret Gardens

Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Photography by El-Branden Brazil

In fantasy literature, a reoccurring theme that is present in a vast number of classic tales, is that of portals to other worlds.

Whether it is Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Frank L. Baum’s The Wizard Of Oz, Alan Garner’s Elidor, H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, all the heroes and heroines of the tales are drawn into exotic lands through some magical entrance between two realities. Arguably, the most popular stories to utilize this theme are C.S. Lewis’s classic Chronicles of Narnia; the most famous being the wardrobe in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

This literary tradition has a deep root in human consciousness. Throughout the history of humanity, whether it be through religious, scientific or mystical means, the exploration of inner space, has allowed access to levels of reality and existence beyond the senses. All great art is a manifest of the hidden, whether it is an emotional response in abstraction, or a piece conjured up from within the imagination.

In Aldous Huxley’s The Doors Of Perception, he writes about the powerful experiences he had whilst using the hallucinogenic chemical, mescaline. Again, the metaphor of a door or entrance is used to express the boundary between the everyday world and that of the altered state.

It was Huxley’s conviction that certain substances could open the mind to a reality untainted by sensory prejudices. This belief was not his alone, and has been an integral part of shamanic beliefs the world over, for thousands and thousands of years. It is by no accident that Alice ingests strange chemicals on her journey through Wonderland.

The creation of sacred spaces within a religious context, whether as a church, temple or shrine, or an improvised circle for ritual, are all places where everyday consciousness is banished, and altered states invoked. When we enter a place of worship, the symbols that surround us, trigger a referential change within that allows for prayer, communion with God, or the manifestation of spirits and magic.

The ultimate portal, which is the driving force behind all others, is death – the passing from one state of existence into another. At the centre of all religions, concepts of death dominate; even for the Atheist, who believes that it leads to a bleak black slumber of non-existence.

Shakespeare writes rather solemnly of the crossing over in Hamlet:

‘But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?’

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, there is a beautifully reassuring passage describing the threshold of death:

The grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.’


It is true
That as I lie here
In my final throes
I recall with painful clarity
All the suffering I had caused.

It is true
That I regret so much
And if I could
I would resolve right now
Every hurt, every scold
Every pain that you endured.

It is true
My life is ending.
How I could have lived it well
If I had listened
Been a friend
Instead of selfish, mean and cruel.

It is true
It is ALL true
That I had done you great wrong
And now as I lie here dying
With you sat there
By my side.

It is true
That your kindness brings shame
As you talk and hold my hand.
For if our roles had been reversed
I doubt
I would have done the same.

It is true
Your compassion helps me
Understand all that I have missed
And in my desperate fading moments
I have this chance to make amends.

It is true
I beg forgiveness
As my body begins to fail
To which you gently inform me
That you forgave me long ago.

 – By El-Branden Brazil

Photography by El-Branden Brazil

Photography by El-Branden Brazil

The Dead Man’s Mass

The light of Twilight opened:
Bruised in orange inclination
Below a dark blue cascade
Of starlit elevation.
He lay down to ponder
Upon the complex folly of descent
And all the foolish hooded lies
That embraced all human incident.
His breast released a fearful sigh –
Exasperating all clear smoke
From deep within his ancient lungs
And pushed out from hidden throat.
And his eyes became wide open –
Gasping at the visual splendour
In every moment passing on,
As life evaporated yonder.
His memories caught in bloodied fever
And seeping from every pore;
He felt ecstatic recollection
For what had been before.
And no where had this Dead Man seen,
The golden sunrise of the Night –
Transcending high in earnest dream
And drowning him in Holy rite.
And vanished by forsaken moment,
Reality’s gates were closed –
Elyseum of ancient myth constructed
While his abstract mind composed.

– El-Branden Brazil
Copyright January 12th, 1998 –


Painting by El-Branden Brazil