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obituary
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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

We don’t come across pure goodness often. If we do and at the same time are lucky enough to acknowledge it, our understanding of life itself changes. When the creature that, for us, manifested benevolence dies, we are left sniffing the air in devastation for hints and signs we will eagerly name “proof” of something evading our senses, unable as we are to accept that such greatness can and will vanish into thin air.

Most people have a belief system to rely on. Some are religious and trust that e.g. there is some sort of heaven and hell we’re all destined to go to, according to our actions. The main problem with such traditional models is that they’re usually authoritative and humans-only – which doesn’t necessarily impede the believer in her privacy to include other life forms, e.g. a pet, in her imagined afterlife. Others assume that some form of energy remains and lingers close by, bound by laws that can’t be explained by science (yet). Many rest their hopes on quantum physics and the imperfection of our senses, choosing waves over our visible and finely set existence, as more fundamental to reality.

Consolation often comes shaped as random occurrences, open to interpretation, that we tie together and wear as chain mail against nihilism: A piece of string, a stone like a heart, a staring pidgeon and a praying mantis. Magical thinking isn’t restricted to childhood or perhaps the mind looks for solace in psychosis, as the skeptic will attempt to convince us. One thing is certain though: Death does not tear us apart from those we love. It is discussed that humans first settled around burial grounds to be close to their dead, and this idea doesn’t surprise me. A good friend died ten years ago and I still dream of him, in every detail. My mother visits my father’s grave almost every week. When there’s wind and rain I can’t hush the irrational worry that Sporos, my dog and companion for the past thirteen years, might be cold, as his body lies buried in a relatively shallow grave in the mountain – and I regularly check on him.

Relief often comes in a built sense of continuation: By keeping someone’s memory alive, by watching their children and grandchildren grow and take their name, by admiring the grass that grows where they were buried or the advance of the water where their ashes were spread. And beyond the, characteristically western, linear view, there is also the cyclical one: There are recurring phenomena in nature that point towards regeneration, such as the cycles of day and night or the seasons’ change. But as there is also the flower that blossoms and decays, we can’t be sure closer to which phenomenon and point of view our fate lies. From all religious – and in essence philosophic – traditions regarding the metaphysics of death, I find samsara, i.e. the cycle of death and rebirth, and moksha (or nirvana, depending on the doctrine), i.e. the liberation from this cycle, the most soothing concepts.

Now, for those of us who are more or less physically and mentally healthy and able to make ends meet, moksha is a hard notion to grasp as a desired state of being (or non-being). The content followers of the linear mode of thinking in general plainly wish for time to stop and life not to end. The equivalent of that in the cyclical model would be to live infinite lives. Why would we ever want to be freed of all this pleasure and joy, even if it is destined to mix with equal amounts of pain and loss? You see, as long as loss and pain can be handled, our ego manages to make life appealing again. So, in an age of relative comfort, religion seems irrelevant and not that promising.

Perhaps I – blinded by my prevailing happiness, yet fully aware of my mindless optimism and privileged position – would choose the improbable frozen time or the unpredictable infinite lives combo. What about my dead then? Would I wish them to return to this plane eternally, even though we might never meet? Would I wish them to be tied here, above me, as immaterial protectors and revered servants? Would I wish them to be free and one with the universe and never have to give a damn about my earthly loss and pain? It is only fair to wish for my dead to escape, to shed the useless skin of consciousness, to never concentrate again as energy or spirits or name it what you will, even if their absence leaves me with an unbearable sense of spiritual destitution. As for the attributes that shined through them, the glowing gems that lined the dark tunnels of Self, they should be nothing but random assemblages, rarities that simply disperse like toasted bread stepped on in a windblown, busy street. If end means freedom, then be it.

 

 

[Two years ago, I wrote this.]

 

 
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Tuesday, 27 October 2015 22:34
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