M1. I was listening to a radio show today about life’s end.
I know this could be thought of as rather morbid, but for me, thinking about it actually gives me strong feelings of hope and of adventures into the unknown.
Anyway, it is something we would all do better to consider because it is said to happen to everyone. As Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as saying,
“in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”
So I think it’s best that we live with it, rather than ignore it, or deny it, or brush it aside, for as Woody Allen said,
“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens”
Mind you he also said a lot of other very funny things too, like
“I don’t know the question, but sex is definitely the answer”
Which is kind of related since while being kind of opposites, they are also kind of the same For example, in France “la petite mort” is an expression which means “the brief loss or weakening of consciousness” and in modern usage this refers specifically to “the sensation of orgasm as likened to death”.
So says Wikipedia, but I am digressing.
NB. Just one extra thing, when you sneeze people often say “Bless you”. I think that like la petit mort, a sneeze arrests thoughts in the brain and leave one spiritually vulnerable at that moment. I have heard laughter does similar things. Now I really have digressed! Sorry.
Life’s End and Dreaming
According to various practices and religions around the world, it pays dividends to have considered the fact of life’s end.
For example, in dream yoga, they say that to be aware of yourself parting from this world, you need to have practiced being conscious in your dreams.
But then, to be conscious in your dreams, you need to be diligently mindful of your everyday habits and behaviors.
And to achieve that mindfulness it is good to understand that everything you experience is nothing more than a dream, an illusion, and indeed, an external projection of the contents of your mind.
However, there is an alternative view which I am personally rather comforted by.
Nobody Experiences Life’s End
It was Ludwig Wittgenstein, who captured it perfectly for me when he said that,
“Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present”
The reason I find this uplifting is that it takes away all my fears about the fact of life’s end, because for any reflecting individual, life does not end. But rather it simply ceases to continue.
Actually, I prefer to think of death as not so much the going to sleep part, but rather the not waking up at any later time. Of course, I can never experience something that does not happen, ie the not waking up bit.
The other wonderful point in the quote is that eternity is something everyone can experience right here, right now, in the present. There’s no waiting.
As William Blake says,
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour”
That is both magical and awesome combined.