Talk About Dying

24 July 2017

Have you noticed that it is not OK to talk about wanting to die? And yet, the thought itself is a simple, normal, and harmless thing in and of itself. My guess is that pushes some buttons, but let me clarify before you call the ethics board.

The thought of wanting to die, like any thought, it harmful only to the degree that we attached to it and let it drive our behaviors. If seen as just a thought, it is an interesting philosophical and theoretical direction of imagining that drives intelligence about the worth of life, can ignite change, and can lend profound spiritual insight.

Where would the world of poetry, art, religion, and philosophy be without allowing ourselves to openly entertain death? And how can we openly entertain death without considering it for ourselves? How can we understand the thematic drive in others who suffer, and in our own subconscious minds, without allowing the mind to take a stroll down the lane of personal annihilation?

To make the subject taboo makes it something that we have to hide. This is always the tragedy of societal norms. As necessary as they are, shame is born alongside every cultural rule of appropriateness.

The problem is not that many, most (all?) of us at one point or another have a thought in us that wants to move towards death. The problem is that we don’t want to look at that thought. And when we don’t look at a thought it doesn’t mean that it ceases to be, it means that it ceases to be conscious. And one way, certainly, to talk about the aim of life must be one of increasing consciousness.

In fact, if we look at the aim of life, the consideration of death is obviously necessary. Moreso, if we look at the aim of life, even the consideration and yes, the drive to death, may also be quite necessary. For if our aim is one of consciousness, of truly rich and vital freedom in every moment, then our purpose is one where the fractured, suffering aspect of self is essentially no more.

What if the wish to die is, in fact, the very thing that kindles the spiritual journey?

What if the impetus for the known self to end is simply a confused statement of a wish to end suffering, which is merely the signature of that separate self?

What if the wish to die is that which is necessary for us to – (I can’t help but use this phrase)– be born again?

I believe that those people that cannot de-fuse from their thoughts of death, and become actually suicidal, are those whose minds are tormented and tormenting, and those persons know no other way out of suffering besides entertaining the death of the physical body. However, it is more truly the death of their mind that they would – if we could theoretically give them a choice – actually desire. And I will acknowledge that even if you offered that to them, they may not even see it.

However, I have sat with this idea in myself, checked where it comes from and why, and I can see that the idea can be scary if we believe that thoughts might have power over us. When that is true, life can indeed become hellish.

But when we revisit the idea from a more psychological- spiritual perspective, it may be a very, very sane idea. It is perhaps a bit confusing, but it is not worth throwing out.

I don’t want to die, but I certainly want my suffering to end.

The problem is when I believe my identity and self is fused to a body. And let’s be clear that this is, essentially, the root problem of everything to begin with!

But if I know that my essence is more a psyche than a biology (at the very least) then we can see that the wish to die is perhaps more accurately a wish to be enlightened, a wish to have the monkey-mind cease, a confused wish to know God.

We say that it is lucky to be born, but I know just as well as Walt Whitman that it is just as lucky to die, and equal in any real measure. Life is and passes from my sprouting gray hair to the green grass of the field, which is here today and in the bread ovens tomorrow. There is a part of us that wants to end – a part of us that will end – and a part of us which is eternal and never started and wants to be fully present right now. There is a tight thread like a super-string that ties these together in a tug-of-war, and perhaps all I’m saying here is that we may benefit from seeing it.

Thoughts of death, when stripped of fear, can draw us into greater present moment aliveness.

In my imagination, I have gone to the end of this body, and all that happens there is that the web of consciousness that was identified with the body is then released. It is only the end of the personal. The real Self, the impersonal awareness, doesn’t go anywhere.

Because it never came from anywhere.

That is why death is not proud – it achieves nothing. I invite it. I am willing for it. And that, that is why I am so incredible here.

So present.

So real.



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