I need your help to figure out something. It’s been on my mind for a long time.
In recent months, in random moments, while staring at the floor, hearing the song of a bird or looking or into the eyes of my children, random thoughts will come up about death. I’ve been really feeling a lot of stuff about death. I can try to drive those thoughts out of my mind but- it doesn’t stop them. I’m still afraid. I’m not sure if I can look it in the eye directly. But it’s still there, the thoughts still emerge, and I can’t just bury them. They’re just so real to me.
Oh gosh, it’s so hard to summarise.
The first emotion that appears is fear. A terrifying, visceral fear. I’m terrified of my own death. I just want to run away from and/or deny it with every fibre of my being.
In the middle of the tears- who and where is the one who will die?
I think I can’t face this alone, but it seems to like coming up most when I am alone– as though it wants me and just me to listen to it. It doesn’t want these thoughts to be too corrupted through interaction with any other.
Am I really alone when I am by myself? Something seems to catch the distressed emotions- an energy, Being its (non-)self? A comforter. The distress sinks into a warmth in my chest- it seems to come from nowhere and everywhere at once.
How could crying with fear be so spiritual?
Where did consciousness come from? Do notions of “before” or “after” consciousness even mean anything at all?
And then I wonder- some deep and really intuitive thoughts.
Thoughts like: from the first person perspective: is death even a real thing?
It’s so hard to explain this intuition but-
I never experienced “pre-birth”. As far as I am concerned, consciousness and the universe are eternally co-existing.
We say “when the lights go out” but- from the perspective of the light itself- is there even a going out?
I’ve been under general anaesthetic twice in my life. The second time was one of the most beautiful and spiritual experiences I’ve ever had. I lay down on the bed and an instant later, there was a stirring in the boundaries of consciousness. The soundscape came alive, the body was alive, I could feel it, and thoughts arose, a playful internal laughter emerged as I recalled that simplest and most elegant of all simple facts “there is only ever consciousness”. It was fun. It was- a play on the universe. A dance. A God twirling in the vastness of space. It was stunning. It was beautiful. The chuckling of a God awakening to itself, being entertained by the little joke it made. “What do you mean ‘after regaining consciousness?’ – what does that even mean”
There was no before and after the general aesthetic. There were just two instants, two moments as continuous with each other as every other moment of conscious experience. To speak of there being minutes or hours in-between is to not correctly characterise the nature of my first-hand experience.
To speak of non-consciousness is to not make any sense at all.
Now: I’ve experienced ego death. The loss of sense of self. But that was totally OK. Nothing actually died. Indeed, the universe seemed most bright when there was no ego to filter it down to only its “relevant” bits. (Not that the ego is a problem, it just makes problems that’s all)
Stories have parts: they have the beginning, the middle, and the end. In order for something to have an end, it needs to have a beginning. But did my life actually have a beginning? From the perspective of my mother and father- it did. But that’s only because it appeared in the middle of their story. From my firsthand perspective there was no pre-beginning, there was no beginning, there’s only ever a middle. Can something that had no beginning ever feature an end? Can something that has a middle, and only a middle, have an end?
Is my death something that only those around me at the time will actually experience?
Is death even relevant to life? A million light-years from here there’s a small speck of dust floating in space- is death as relevant to my life as that little speck of space-dust?
The deep flow of intuitions diminishes. I might be done crying for now. I know I will revisit this topic- the fear will come back again, and that’s OK. When the fear of death returns again, I will greet it as an acquaintance, perhaps one day to become a friend.
And I wonder if hiding somewhere behind this fear is a deep wellspring of profound gratitude for life.