Challenging Death

I'd like to challenge the assumption that life is “good” and death is “bad.”

Taking a minimalist view of death I define it as “non-being.” Death is the Void we came out of when we are born and which we will go into after we have lived.

If we are able to know a thing only by its contrasting opposite—what it is not—then how can human beings know life if we haven't experienced death?

This is simple if death is “non-being.”

I lack perspective if all I'm aware of is life and being. I must taste death—emptiness—before I can say for sure if dying is the tragedy humans expect it to be, or if it is something else entirely.

An emptiness so deep that it is not unlike death can be experienced in at least three ways: in dreamless sleep, during deep meditation, or in the zone where I lose myself in an activity. None of these states would be considered “negative” in an emotional sense. In fact, they are very productive in their rejuvenating qualities. Who has not experienced increased energy, focus, or motivation after a good night's sleep or a break from activity?

If these states can be comparable to death, death may be the most misunderstood facet of reality. Like the dreamless sleep and deep meditation that works as a defragmentation of the mind, helping individual humans organize unconscious emotions, death may be a reboot for reality itself, a way to reorganize and prepare for a next round. On a Cosmic level the vacuum of space is not the “nothingness” we think of in Western culture, but is, though it resembles matter not at all, the source of life as we know it.

Just as a piece of art starts upon a blank canvas, life, and all of material existence, began from an empty Cosmos. From nothing sprung everything we know as reality. That all of reality will once again return to nothing is not a loss but a hope. It is not a division from life: we must realize finally that life and death are one and the same. We were in a way dead in life, and in death, will live forever.

The human body is not just its conscience. It is trillions of atoms that compose myriad organizations of material. Germs, organs, bone, brain, and the chemical reactions that create thoughts and emotions. When death comes, these atoms are reorganized into other patterns, into soil, trees, small plants and animals, and even eventually into other humans. At this level, life and death stop existing, and we see clearly that reality is made of patterns. Patterns shift, decomposing to compose in new forms. This has been going on from the beginning of time when matter first cooled into recognizable atoms.

What this means is that in reality we are the Universe itself. We are It. From this perspective there is no you or I to live or die. There is nothing but the Universe. It doesn't go anywhere, and neither do we.

In death there is nothing to fear. It is safe because it is infinite. It is the “balance” spiritual people seek, where no ups and downs exist anywhere. When someone says “I need peace of mind,” offer them death. There is no time in death, no space, no matter, no concepts of any kind, no mind—only a peaceful non-being, deeper than any sleep or meditation, so no risk of having to wake up.

Likewise, there is nothing to fear in life, though life is fettered with its ups and downs, its inconsistencies, its outrages constantly bombarding joy, because life is impermanent. “This too shall pass.” I can count on it: no matter how bad things get, it will end. I don't have to put up with life forever, and death is nothing to put up with.

Life and death are both beautiful states. In death I gain (or am) peace, and in life I have activity. Though death is an eternity, it is timeless, and so I won't be aware of it in human terms, just as I am not aware of how long I have slept. In life I have the impermanence that clothes joy and sorrow in perspective. Impermanence gives life a flavor, and life gives death meaning.

I am emptiness: death. I am awareness: life.  

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2 Responses to Challenging Death

  1. Sorry JR, This is the only way I thought I could contact you. I noticed you are no longer on FB, and I miss the discussions.

    1. Thanks, G. A. I'm still on Google+ if you'd like to take a swing at joining :D


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