What Is Death?

Volume 3, Issue 35

A great man passed away the other day. Joseph Lambert served his country in Vietnam, never flinching from the dirtiest jobs to protect others from having to do them. It was possibly the latent effects of Agent Orange in which he was once hip deep that ultimately took him. 

Unbeknownst of this loss to mankind, I was in a magical apple orchard in upstate New York watching my granddaughter Gabrielle pick apples, red and gold. A small deer looked at us and ballet’d from the glade. Shifting, slanting spotlights played from the skies through the autumn colors. Gabrielle’s mood changed abruptly seeing the foreleg of a small deer lying in the leaves.

Sex and death: Woody Allen’s favorite themes. We know what sex is, but do we really know what death is?

 Delivering a eulogy at my father’s death years ago I said “We come into this world, we know not from where; we leave, and we really know not to where we go. Science tells us that the universe conserves matter and energy, neither can ever be destroyed. If Nature conserves these things, would she not also conserve something much more valuable — consciousness?”

Since humankind has wondered, there have been two schools of thought about the nature of reality. Accidental Materialists, may be the dominant group today, if not in what people say then certainly in the way they act. This group believes that matter is the primary substance of the universe, and that the universe is an accident, and so is life, consciousness, and love. For about a hundred years until the second half of the 20th century, Western psychology believed that consciousness was an epiphenomenon, that the decisions we think we are making are just rationalizations of the actions we took driven by electrochemical and mechanical causes.

The other group, which in Plato’s time were called Idealists, believes that consciousness is the primary substance of the universe, and matter/energy are representations which exist within consciousness. This position is actually more defensible from an empirical epistemological viewpoint. Since all we truly know exists is consciousness, because it is the only phenomenon we perceive directly, the rest is coming through consciousness to us. In this worldview the universe is not an accident, has always existed, and the Big Bang is a recent local event in a larger picture.

From unusual direct experiences I have had all my life, my conviction is that there is only one Self, and everything in the universe is that Self having fun. However in some of Its manifestations, due to self-misidentification by the local self, that fun is perceived by the local self as suffering.

If I’m right, there is no death. At the end of a song, one might say that the music dies, and yet that song may be sung again and again after that never to be sung exactly the same way.

The local self may then awake in a new place, with the potential to remember the prior place, and to string it all together. If the Original Self as consciousness might be subject to information theory and thus behave the way software does, these avatars could each re-evolve over a series of lives the needed computing power to again inhabit fully the Original Self as a new personality aspect. I develop this idea in more detail in my soon to be released new book You Are the Universe: Imagine That.   

If through unusual experiences one can gain realization of the self as being the One Self, the fear of death evaporates and the way one lives one’s life undergoes a profound change. Attachment to trivia falls away and in living the moment, Flow state (the Zone) becomes one’s natural state.

Joseph
O Nobly Born
Thou art embarked upon the great journey
Once again back in the arms of thy Self
Aiming always toward the Light
You whose great Light hath always shined
Love giver to all you perceive
Constant steady in your saintly support of the All in Each
You are Home.

Best to all,

Bill

P.S. I’ll be reading from and signing the latest edition of my book MIND MAGIC at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, NY on Sunday, October 20 between 2 and 3 PM. Please stop by if you are in the area.

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com. 

One thought on “What Is Death?

  1. Yana Lambert

    This is beautiful, Bill — thank you! Our favorite line in our favorite song, the Moody Blues’ “I know I’ll find you somewhere”… is “love eternal will not be denied”. Knowing that energy cannot be destroyed and that life is indeed eternal as is true love, I do know that Joseph and I will find each other again. In fact, he has never left me, he is so alive in my heart and soul.

    “I have loved you before, I love you now, and I will love you again. The time returns.” (from Kathleen McGowan’s Magdalene series)

    Reply

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