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Not for spectators

Posted by markdohle , 04 July 2013 · 333 views

fear of death denial of death oblivion afterlife

Not for spectators
(a process most of us will go through)


I just saw a clip on the internet that deals with how some atheist look at death and the afterlife.  Of course they all said that they did not fear death.  In fact in our day it seems to be in vogue with just about everyone.  People tend to think that death is one event, when it fact it is a process that actually takes years.  It is called aging.  True, there comes a time when ‘death’ happens, but all that leads up to it is also part an parcel of that event.  There are some of course who go instantly, but for most there is some kind process that is gone through.

If someone actively fights against aging, I believe that is one way of dealing with their fear of death.  Making money, lots of it, becoming famous, or just filling ones life with lots of ‘things’ to do, is a way of not thinking about the shortness of our lives and the speed in which our time here passes.

I like to say I don’t fear death, but when I am thinking about my end, it is as some sort of spectator watching a movie.  Now the fear of death can come in many different degrees.  Some people are terrified of it; some can keep some calm when they contemplate their death, or when they hear the finale findings of their doctor.  In any case, most of us will one day see what our reactions will be.

There is no shame in fearing death and from my experience there are those who fear death much less than others, no matter what their belief system is.  Perhaps it is because they are better at repressing the terror of the reality of their own demise.  It is certainly easy to think of someone else’s death, but to think of my own, well it is difficult if not even possible.  Again, because when thinking of my ending, or being with others when they die, I am a spectator, not a participant.

If there is nothing after death, then oblivion is not a problem, well that is, after one dies.  However, before death comes, well the thought of oblivion, of losing everything for eternity, can make for terror for many, perhaps most, or even for all, even if it is denied and buried deep.

Everything is essentially ‘emptiness’ in this world.  Everything will fold in on itself and cease to exist in the form that it is in today.  The study of history will manifest this strongly.  Yet this emptiness is what is sought after, it is as if we are beings of deep inner hungers and thirst, yet we seek to fill this void with sand.  I am of course speaking of myself and my struggles to come to terms with my life, the wonder of it and the rapidity which it passes.

I am not a fan of Sam Harris, yet of all the so called “New Atheist” he has some interesting things to say.   He can share some profound insights about life.  Here is paraphrase of one thing he said when giving one of his talks:  “Everyone around you, all those you meet, will one day lose everything, if that is true; why should I not be kind to them”?  He is not talking about niceness, but about the reality of our temporality and how that should evoke compassion in us for others.

Each human has to come to their own understanding of reality.  Even if it can’t be articulated, we each have one.  Perhaps our beliefs, our true beliefs can be hidden underneath a great deal of denial, but they do in the end have a great influence over us.  If some of our assumed beliefs are actually known, then something can be done about changing them if possible.  Many thought patterns, our beliefs and yes prejudices are passed on from generation to generation, without being thought about at all.  Today in a world where all beliefs seem to be in the public forum, where deep discussion is going on about them, well perhaps this is a good time to live, a time of deeper introspection as well as a time where actual tolerance can be learned and practiced.  

Contempt and disdain for others because they are different, is the first step towards overt violence.

Both atheist and believers (of a certain sort) do that in abundance. Possibly one day we can learn to listen, in the meantime, perhaps all we can do is hold on for the ride.  Which I believe will become rougher.  Those in the fanatic fringe will make sure that will happen.