This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Sunday, 25 November 2012
Dead as Mackerel
This isn’t a post about whether life exists after death.
Repeat – this is not a post discussing life after death. I am NOT asking you to debate whether anything survives after we die.
I hope that’s quite clear?
All right, so what is it about?
I’ve been reading that whatever our personal thoughts on the presence or absence of a hereafter, we can’t actually imagine life ending at death. We have, somewhere in our subconscious minds, the idea hard-wired that something must survive death.
Well, OK. Maybe that’s true for some people.
Personally, though (and I spend a good deal of time, especially lying awake late at night) thinking about death – and it’s an experience I’d recommend for creating mental clarity, if you don’t fall asleep – I have no problems with the idea of my own mortality. I happen to believe that since the mind is a function of the totality of electric charges and hormonal surges affecting the brain, once those end, I end. But since I expect my demise will still be some time off in the future, it’s not something of immediate moment to me.
I come from a culture which, like all Eastern cultures, places a great deal of importance on the veneration of the deceased ancestor. Most Indians are taught from childhood that the dead grandfather or uncle or whoever is looking at them from the sky and one has to talk to them, pray to them, and so on. I know of Indians who have no religious belief but are completely unable to shake off this childhood indoctrination.
In my case, two people from my immediate family – my grandmother, who served as my de facto mother while I was growing up, and my father – died literally in my arms, in the course of just five days short of a year. This is a somewhat traumatic experience, if you want to know how it felt. Since I gave them both mouth-to-mouth and CPR, all the way to the hospital, I should have been (I thought) able to save them, and for a long time afterwards I was still struggling with the idea that I – in not saving them – killed them.
In such circumstances, it would have been a nice comfortable feeling if I told myself they weren’t really dead, that they were somewhere, still existing. Only thing is – I could not, and I can not, to this day, believe that.
I do not feel the need to imagine they are somewhere "up there" watching over me and I don't think it affects my memories of them in any way. I think they are permanently dead, and when I remember them, I remember them as they were. I have no problems thinking along those lines. No.
As far as my own life is concerned, I'm quite happy with the concept of being dead. It also saves me from the fear of being judged in an afterlife.