Sunday, May 12, 2019

Death of the Damsel

(Works for Damoiseau's too.)
Ask a hundred people what they would consider to be "dying a good death", and most would say it would be to die at home, in bed, asleep. A few of the action-oriented types, would say they'd want to die as they lived - skydiving, mountain-climbing, piloting their plane - you know, "fighting the good fight till the end".

Human life is a journey unto death. And if death is not an end, then it must be a bridge to somewhere, we-know-not-where. At death, one will either be asleep in a sickbed somewhere, ordinary walking-around awake, or conscious.

If one is conscious, one can step onto and across the bridge. If one is just awake, one will step onto the bridge, but only possibly cross it. And if one dies in their sleep, unconscious, then one just collapses there in a pile at the foot of the bridge, with all the rest who've gone before.

An obituary column of three people:
Mr. A., lying there in her terminal sickbed for the last several weeks, now asleep, unconscious, unaware of what's taking place, barely breathing, weakened pulse, finally dies, slumped in her bed, takes her place among the rest at the foot of the bridge. Because she died while unconscious, she is survived by nobody.

Ms. B., walking around, ordinarily awake, has a massive coronary, eyes bulging, shooting arm pains, unbearable pressure in the chest - she's aware of what's happening - then she dies, right there on the side of the road, but at least she knew what was going on, and so stepped onto the bridge. Because she died while awake, she is survived by her immediate family and friends.

Mr. C., fully conscious when she died, didn't really 'know it' - oh, she Knew it but she didn't notice any particular change-in-circumstances, she just stepped out onto and across the bridge, while we, on this side, just 'lost sight of her' - though she didn't lose sight of herself. Because she died conscious and aware of what was happening, she is survived by the whole world. A true bodhisattva.

It does not matter the circumstances of your untimely death, where you are, what you are doing or not doing, what you did while alive, or didn't do, nor the circumstances around you at the time, or leading up to the time of your death - all that matters is your state of consciousness at the actual time of death. That is why 'taking your own life', or 'allowing it to be taken' (Jesus-like, Socrates-like) - conscious suicide - might not be such a 'bad thing'; at least, then, you're in control of the moment when it happens. At any other time, you're under the law of accident.

If a conscious man or woman does die, does they Will it so? 
And if so, is that suicide?

originally published in May 2004

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

What IS "My Life"

Humans are caught between a depression-producing neurally-connected web of poorly maintained and difficult to clearly recall memories, regrets, and missed opportunities, AND an anxiety-producing amorphous cloud of hopes, fears, plans, dreams, expectations and simulations of which, probably, 95-99+% will never, ever come to pass.

There one is, 
"Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle 
With "Me".

But, what IS "Me"? Realize, without imagination and fantasy, that there is no "self", but a smattering of "consciousness of brain activity" that we call senses: sounds, smells, tastes, visions, thoughts, feelings, etc., and, making matters muddier, that same consciousness is a byproduct of brain activity. So which came first? "Consciousness of brain activity", or "Brain activated consciousness"?
 When the brain dies, consciousness dies. 
No more mind, no more thoughts and no more sensations. 
No more "ghost in the brain".  No more "soul". 
And, no more "me".

And, what IS "My Life"? When the party is over, and the guests have all retired to their corner of the world brain that last contained them, what is my life then? There is no Who that lives on, and on. There is just YOU THERE, RIGHT NOW, conscious of the "squiggles on this page", words, sentences, and the environment around your head and body, whilst hundreds of thousands of randomly arising associations are making your short-term AIM to read this damn silliness in front of you, all the more difficult. It is kind of amazing that anything actually gets done at all.
Is ANYONE still with me?

After all is thought, said and done, there are no Human Beings either. They are, for most people alive today, another species, or even a sub-species. Non-human animals don't act this way; they are genetically inclined to be one-with those of their own species till death - and sometimes, even one-with those not of their own species. But many humans, by the age of 7-14-21 or so, are already exhibiting signs of being a freak, an outcast, anti-socially damaged goods, and "not of this world". The next thing you know, they are acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and locating "gun free zones" to take out their seemingly abnormal brain firings of another kind (but are they... really?), on the surrounding life forms. Try to find a non-human life form that acts this way, excluding deadly viruses and other pathogens that have no idea what's going on, or maybe, no creature that acts this way has any idea what's going on.

Humans are just a couple neural-firings away from EITHER descending into a distorted chasm of negative hostility based upon self-survival, or self-destruction, at ANY COST... OR, ascending into a clarified crescendo of epiphanic mind music of cosmic proportions, OR, something in-between, or out-landish.