forward: this assignment was written for my Death and Dying philosophy class. It is insight into my being
I am writing this letter now, at 21 years of age, as a reflection of my life and preparation for my death. It is my hope that in years to come, if I am still alive, I can look back on this letter to remind myself of the realities of life and death, and to perpetuate my on going growth in my readiness to die. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been more concerned with the existential meaning of life than anything else. I would constantly wonder about the meaning of life, the possibilities of death, and the realities of the nature of the universe. So much so that I have always unknowingly taken to a philosophical perspective regarding life, death and everything in between. I am thankful for being given this perspective, as I now realize that I see the nature of existence differently than most others, giving me a somewhat unique experience of the world that we all live in.
I believe that I used to fear death, but at some point I came across the meaning of agnosticism. After being exposed to numerous different religious and non-religious belief systems, I decided that it was impossible for one certain reality (death) to have multiple uncertain natures. It seemed to me that all of the explanations offered from these perspectives were based upon superstition and loaded mythical theory. I wanted desperately to understand death, because I reasoned that by understanding death, I would too come to understand the nature of the universe, the purpose of my life, and how everything came about. The fact that no one, priest or genius alike, could tell me for certain what happens at the moment of death and beyond was profound for me. It meant that it was a truth that I alone could discover. This gave me a sense of agency over my life which would soon develop into the lack of fear of death necessary to lead a good life and eventually to a good death.
Now, I look forward to death; not with a sense of urgency or restlessness, but rather with open curiosity and acceptance for what is to come. I know that I do not know what comes in death, and this is comforting to me because it leaves me nothing at all to fear. Yes I could spend the rest of my life imagining all of the horrible potential realities that may come, whether as consequences for less virtuous behaviour, or as inevitable state of death itself, but what kind of life would that be. I would rather live my life fully and virtuously without irrationally imposing anxiety on myself for a state that I or anyone else alive knows nothing of. If anything, knowing that I do not know evokes within me a state of wonder and respect for the nature of the mind and universe. Its humbling to know that we human beings, who like to think of ourselves as capable of conquering any intellectual feat possible, are withheld from what seems to be such a basic and essential truth: What happens to us after we die.
Our not knowing alludes to the assumption that there must be a grander scale of understanding of some sort in this cosmos. It is clear that even if we do not have access to what happens when we die, something, even if it be nothing at all, happens. That something exists on a level higher than what we are capable of easily understanding through pure reason alone; the level of the whole. This too is a comforting fact, as it helped me understand that regardless of what happens after we die, we will some day become one with the whole at death. And although I cannot fathom in totality what the whole is- in life I know that we are able to access glimpses of it: in nature and through reason; beauty and the mind. Therefore, I realized that it is of the most importance to live life fully and virtuously to get the answers I have always wanted about death and the whole.
To fully live and understand life, is to seek understanding of the whole. I have come to understand life as an aspect of the whole, separated into a series of activities (or moments)- each of which have the potential reveal the whole in its entirety if experienced with the understanding of it as such. The only way to have this experience, however, is to be fully present in the moment and realize that the present is all that there is. Appreciate each moment for its entirety and rarity, as everything, including ourselves, is undergoing constant change while still being all that there is. With that considered, I understand there to be only two tenses: now, and death. This is especially comforting, because in both cases, I am experiencing the whole.
When I die, my soul will return to the whole like a drop of water into the ocean, be it with my consciousness or not. Perhaps to die just signifies the cessation of perceptive consciousness. Then, my soul will undergo change and become the receptacle of consciousness itself, whereas in life I was disconnected from the receptacle and could only produce thought. Which ever the case may be, when I die, as Marcus Aurelius once said, my memory will be absorbed into eternity. What was once me will be no longer, but somehow I was able to come into this world and experience it, which is all that matters.
Now although I may have accepted that death is nothing to me because it is nothing to fear, this does not mean that my death is nothing to my friends and family. And so, I should make it a part of my life to educate my loved ones about my understanding of life and death so to help them grieve less painfully when the moment comes. Now that I think about it, I will not need this consolation letter, they will.
… It will be vined, Live streamed, and Social media aware.
Do you know how much I would know about what’s happening in Ferguson if it wasn’t for social media? Nothing. Zero.
Jokes aside I feel like we all need to take a minute to thank the people on the streets literally risking their lives bringing us this information with their cell phone video cameras. Furgeson is on media lockdown right now and without the people braving tear gas to bring us this information we’d all be in the dark.
We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.Thích Nhất Hạnh (via purplebuddhaproject)