Thoughts on Dying and Death – Part Deux
Are you ready to have a conversation about dying and death? Go ahead and take a moment to be repulsed. Done? OK, now lean in. Culturally, we are not disposed to openly broker discussions of our demise, for fear, uneasiness, and utter sadness.
After all, who wishes to be disconnected for eternity from the ones they love and the ones who love them? Our picture of death is not an appealing one (Duh, you think?).
Most of us envision being trapped in an infinite void, unable to feel or touch, yet retaining the memory of all that we have lost.
Frustration and Discontent Lives Here
So why bother? Why not just sweep this discussion under the rug? The simple answer is that you and I have indeed done this very thing, and we know our action is in vain.
Death is not a topic for just the sick and elderly. Death is a topic for those who wish to live a life of existence, consciousness, and bliss. “I’m young and full of life and will defer such thoughts indefinitely.” (You too?)
For most of my life, this approach was my modus operandi, but it levied a steep price. Frustration and discontent abound from a life lived in a constant state of preparedness for a grand thing which was always promised to be coming but never arrived. Are you ready to wake from the hoax?
Today, let’s venture down a path by borrowing heavily from Alan Watts’ thought experiment.
“What would it be like to go to sleep and never wake?”
Take a minute and wrestle with a thought that most find unpleasant and aim to avoid at all cost. I know very well of what I speak, having earned a Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. in the art of sidestepping all things death.
What if tonight you went to sleep and never woke? What if you became enthralled in an endless dream? How would this differ from death? The difference is our perception of knowing what was left behind, and the loss that would accompany that knowledge.
So, why do I now ask you to enter this place if it is so depressing? The reason lies in the next question I now pose.
“What was it like to awake never having first gone to sleep?”
Unlike death, we all can speak on this topic as we have each experienced the miracle that is birth. The moment when we opened our eyes and unleashed all of our senses onto the world. What a marvel it was to experience everything for the first time.
How did this miracle come to be? Who is this person that opened their eyes and who is this person that will one day close them? Can you see how these two are one?
“Conscious beings of all kinds are coming into and out of the world.” — Alan Watts
But you say, Michael, the math does not add up. “For everyone Being that is born, one must also die. (And who said you weren’t going to use it after school?) I can appreciate the Law of Abundance, but how can there be so many Beings, and what if the equation became unbalanced or the timing was thrown off, then what?”
You Imply I
My friend, this apparent incongruity is the beauty of the unfolding that is a thought experiment. After a while, a certain truth starts to appear, and in this case, it is that there are not many Beings but the One.
The one eternal Being or light that is the universe is the one playing all of the roles that are you and I. No wonder we all refer to ourselves by the unique label “I” and intimately feel that the world revolves around us in both space and time.
No Memory Allows For Memories
In seeing this reality, you now realize that you never die upon closing your eyes one last time to the world. Indeed, there is no “one last” time. Because you simply reopen your eyes to the world anew as another “I” who is you as much as you feel you are right now reading this article and living this life!
But to get here, one must leave the memories of past experiences behind as you come out of the world at the point of death.
And with this, we have reached the end of our experiment with more questions than answers, but such is life. The question that you must now answer is:
“What is my relationship with death?”
Is it something that you must avoid or something you can truly embrace? Can you see how death imply life and life imply death?