Essay by Guru Tony
Thinkers’ Corner features theoretical essays on everything from politics to the paranormal, science to religion, crime to love, offering a different way of thinking best described as Rational Holism.
Death is the absence of life. But what, I’d like to know, is life? Indeed, it seems to me many people are dead in life.
The first known human expression came when Neanderthal Man began burying his dead. Some of his funary arrangements survive. But was this because he mourned, or was glad? Either way, appreciation of death seems to be tied up with our emotions.
Death forms the central element of most religions. In the east, death is cyclical, in that we come back as another incarnation. In the west, death is a transition to another, immortal, world. Seems like an ethereal utopia to me.
Can we die symbolically? Most mystical traditions are based on death and rebirth. Interestingly, research has been done on deep faints, which show we can experience images of afterlife. This is akin to the near death experience.
Shamanic practices in tribal cultures involve fasting, dancing and other devices to bring on a hysterical deep faint, thus visiting the ‘afterlife’. Could this psychological phenomenon be the root of the idea of religion?
Pascal used mathematics to persuade us to believe in afterlife and God. It was a simple gamble. If it’s true, then we’re prepared. If it’s not true, then it wouldn’t matter anyway. We’re not there to experience it.
People are said to come back from death. One expression is the ghost. Is this true, or can variations on hallucination and hysteria answer this phenomenon? If so, then like afterlife above, our understanding of afterlife is psychology.
Mediums are said to communicate with the dead. Interestingly, Spiritualism rose to prominence at times of social upheaval, when a lot of people were dying needlessly. The medium can give personal comfort to the bereaved, and maybe also fulfil a social role.
Many try to cheat death. One way is the death defying stunt. You see, approaching death is so life enhancing! Now isn’t that really dumb? Or are we all masochistic by nature?
Science tries to cheat death. This is done mainly through medical knowledge. We are constantly pushing back the time of death. Will the time come when we won’t die at all, but have our ‘consciousness’ transferred to a machine? Now wouldn’t that be cheating God!
While we wait for this, some people decide to be frozen before death, waiting for the time when their illness can be cured. I hope people are right that there’s no soul. ‘Cos if they’re wrong, then when they’re thawed out, they may prove the zombie exists!
Is death the end? Interestingly, science says energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed. Does this mean that death cannot be the end of us? Well, you can guarantee that science will find a way to rubbish the idea, regardless of their ‘proof’.
Maybe death is a thing about the individual. Maybe it is pure arrogance to think of extinction of ourselves. Life goes on in the species. Perhaps nature, God, whatever, sees the species as continuance, and the individual a simple blink of an eye in its progression.
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