Bodhi Wisdom: Death

From the Go Goth! homepage:

You are trapped, and you know it. Your life has degenerated into meaningless repetition. All the things that are supposed to make you happy — your house, you job, your family, and material comfort — leave you feeling empty. And because society tells you that your happiness depends on these very things, you believe you’re powerless to give them up in search of something more real.

And you’re partially right. Life is essentially meaningless, and suffering is the natural condition of living things. There is no hope. But there is a great new program that can help you make sense of the wasteland of your empty, pathetic life.

When you Go Goth!™, you can stop struggling against the cruel nature of the universe, and start living fully in it. By becoming a death-obsessed goth, you surrender your harmful notions that a happy life is desirable or possible. Instead, you’ll accept that suffering and misery are the hallmark of life on this feeble planet. This discovery will prepare you to revel in sorrow, embrace mourning, and look cool being depressed. It might just be the beginning of a whole new life — a Goth life.

Fatalistic and loving it; that’s what goths are. And I don’t blame them; there does seem to be no hope sometimes. I too believe that death is final; that the momentary pleasures we experience are like punctuations in an epic verse of suffering. To make a real-life analogy, consider the fact that we feel pain every single minute. It’s just that most of it is within our threshold of pain.

The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity is that I think it has something very important to offer us for the new century. I’m afraid we’re losing the real virtues of living life passionately, in the sense of taking responsibility for who you are, and the ability to make something of yourself. And feeling good about life.

Existentialism is often discussed as if it’s a philosophy of despair, but I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre, once interviewed, said he never really felt a day of despair in his life. But one thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as a real kind of exuberance, a feeling on top of it. It’s like your life is yours to create.

I’ve read the postmodernists with some interest, even admiration, but when I read them I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more that you talk about a person as a social construction, or as a confluence of forces, or as fragmented or marginalized, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he’s not talking about something abstract. He’s not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about.

It’s something very concrete, like you and me talking, making decisions, doing things and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in the world and counting; nevertheless, what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference first of all in material terms, it makes a difference to other people, and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never simply write ourselves off and see ourselves as the victim of various forces. It’s always our decision who we are.

From the Waking Life script [sourced from American-Buddha]

Existentialism: searching for the meaning in life or giving yourself one. I thought I was an existentialist, but I’m having second thoughts. While existentialists wish to make life meaningful, they don’t necessarily hold in high-esteem the concept of absolute truth. They are more likely than most to claim that reality is what the brain perceives, not what is. What I guess this means is, the most mystically-inclined existentialist is likely to believe that affirmations work because the powerful mind subconsciously creates the opportunity, while others [like me] might say our mind just recognises the opportunity.

Despite my healthy contempt for purposeless living, I still respect it. Life, I mean, not just in the sense of being alive [you can be braindead and still be alive] but also in the context of having a healthy functional mind. And the mind is a very powerful thing. I feel like WHB sometimes [I quote: I have seen the light, and it is me.], and when discussing with seemingly happy, probably ignorant and definitely air-headed people my particular brand of philosophy [which is less of a theory and more of a series of questions, which aren’t necessarily answerable but definitely topple the apparent rock-solid foundation of self-confident values and assumptions [or lack thereof] that they’ve created for themselves], most call me wierd [why, thank you!] and/or ask me if I believe life is wasted on the living, then why haven’t I killed myself yet?

Just to clarify matters, I’m not afraid of death. But I’d hate a painful one and besides, suicide isn’t justified in most cases.
Relevant?: Heath nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing. – Redd Foxx

I digress. They’re soo missing the point. I never said I hate living, I said I hate living with no destiny to live out. I’d hate to live in vain. I do believe in destiny in a way. I’ll get to it later. I agree that life is precious, not because I know it’s a gift, but because I don’t know if it is. Sure misery seems to be the order of the day but I believe everything happens for a reason [the crowd goes wild]. Surely I’m contradicting myself here? Supporting science and the esoteric in the same breath? I think not.

Everything happens for a reason. That is the premise for any venture into any scientific study. Isn’t it true? We all believe that in one way or another. Otherwise the question “why” would never arise!

Digressing again. Why are we here? In the absence of belief in any Supreme Beings, and/or benevolent pantheons, given the infinitesimal probability of the Universe having turned out the way it has, there’s got to be a reason. There better be. Otherwise, entire human generations have lived in vain. For a fresh but [according to the author] highly fictional view on theology, read Scott Adams’ God’s Debris.

That’s one more thing I hate about religious zealots. They seem so intent on convincing you to join them on the spiritual road they’ve chosen for themselves, that they [most] take highly fallacious stands and support them with highly idiotic arguments, and if they end up on the losing side, they wish me good luck in Hell. Seriously.

For example, how can it be that if no One [lol] created the universe, then what are the odds that these physical laws and historical events will play out just like they have? Well, for this I adopt a view similar to the Anthropic Principle: if it didn’t, then we wouldn’t be here talking about it [as in we wouldn’t be here in the first place]. That’s so elegant. It has some connotations of fate, but we wll deal with them as they come, on an individual basis. Furthermore, I want to believe that although the Big Bang spawned multiple universes, For every one that was spawned successfully, [probably with different physical laws, or even different lifeforms, or better still, all initial conditions exactly the same!] there were millions of failed universes. This then will integrate the problem of multiple universes, parallel dimensions AND the probability of forming a coherent successful universe with just a Big Bang. I won’t claim to know it all and enter into this highly technical arena of astrophysics armed with only a very basic sense of direction.

What is my point? We don’t know why we’re alive do we? Perhaps we’re supposed to find out. Perhaps we knew once, and have since forgotten? So we’re probably going to end up wasting entire lifetimes [even if we’re going on the right track, how will we ever know right?] Only one thing is for certain, if you’re alive you will die.

I’ve heard quite a few cool reasons for aging and death over the years. A pri sch friend once said that perhaps the human heart is like a fully charged battery when you’re born. Slowly as you grow and get bigger in size, the battery’s power starts to diminish, resulting in slower heatbeats. And finally when the power goes down to zero, you’re in an OR getting zapped and finding out the meaning of the word “party!”

Then in What The Bleep Do We Know?, it was suggested that the supremely powerful subconscious can affect you body depending on the opinions you have about yourself at any age. So, that is why sometimes you see extremely active and functioning 80 year olds, and 50 year olds in a sick bed at a hospice. Positive mindedness, delays your dying age?

Then physically statistics show that gravity itself is such a b****. Apparently the stress it induces for even a simple act of pumping blood to your brain, or standing upright or even trying to keep your eyes open, is cumulative over your lifetime, and this in turn ages your muscles and causes wrinkles [among other things]. Ultimately, gravity causes you to age visibly. There is no gene that says you MUST die.

And I like knowledgeable religious people who know what they’re talking about. Though sometimes they appeal to logic more than truth, they still try to present conherent arguments. I appreciate effort. Lifespans were significantly decreased after the Great Flood.

And to all you purists who believe Life is to be lived to love, with love and all that jazz, read about erotogenin and die.

So what happens when we die? This was one opinion on a website. But personally that’s too romantic a notion…I believe that when you die, you die. Somehow people think this isnt consistent with ER scenarios where the patient’s heart just stops, and after a minute brought back thanks to a 200joule charge for a defibrillator. Why not. Your body stopped functioning, so they shock the heart into twitching again. Anyway these muscles twitch because of electrical impulses from neurons right? There’s no second chance involved. Pure luck. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I hate it when doctors say TIG. This view vastly excludes ideas of souls, spirits, ghosts et ca et ca et ca.

So what about the afterlife? I prefer to think of it as a portmanteau of after and life, rather than an abbreviated form of life-after-life. When you die, you die. Saves a lot of trouble worrying about what might happen. Especially if all knowledge of such things are mostly purely speculative.

Souls…hmm that’s the keyword for some other article.


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