Death is like…

Everything we know about death comes from life, since it is only the living that speak about death. If we allow ourselves to see the value of what we project onto death, we might learn something we already know about life. 

If we affirm life as it is, we would stop projecting onto death altogether; death could then be what it is: nothing.

Life is more unknown than death.

Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species…

Friedrich Nietzsche

Unlike Freud who thought the object of life is death, Nietzsche took a more interesting turn, seeing death as a certain way of living.

To fear death is to live in fear. Ironically death puts an end to fear; and so death is both feared object and desired object. Rather than death as an evolution of the species, it is perhaps more like the ultimate transitional object: our understanding of death is our attachment to life.

Given the importance of death in our lives, we might ask, ‘What can death show us about living a better life?’ The dead have a perspective that the living do not fully realise, and yet, if we listen to ourselves, ‘they’ might show us what we are missing.

So the question becomes, ‘How do we live death in our lives?’

***

Death is unlike a fear of death: fear of death ends. 

Death is like nothing, so your relationship to it is everything.

***

Death is unlike an end in sight; the mind creates death as a horizon. For those who lack multiperspectivity, horizons appear fixed and finite – death might seem little more than a fear of missing out; which can make it seem like everything.

Death is like an expansive disintegration of a body. As discreet bundles of energy we become less discreet, eventually transforming into cloud and ash, or food for worms and weeds. We become the dispersed, not the deceased. There is, as it were, always somewhere else to be, or not to be.

***

Death is unlike anything that will ever happen to you: death is not an event.

Death is like a re-evaluation of all values, making it possible to see how and why the idea of death came into being. With new perspectives, we give ourselves – and death – a new lease of life.

***

Death is unlike an unrealised future: death only exists in the present. The future cannot die, since it does not exist. The future haunts us with the spectre of hope, and like hope – unlike death – it is never realised.

Death is like the split second before a profound loss dawns on you. There is an eternity in that moment – it is timeless – and yet gone in an instant. The greatest loss is not of the moment itself, but of who you are in that moment.

***

Death is unlike salvific prayer; anything that needs saving has not lived, and as such, is not worth saving. If salvation were needed, it might deliver us from the vanity that believes in a soul in need of salvation.

Death is like a black hole: a beautiful idea that can swallow you whole. It is not easily refuted – its existence is inferred.

***

Death is unlike getting touched up by a mortician as she applies a final bit of make-up. The mourners blush at their vanity; their loved one all made up with nowhere to go.

Death is like dreaming of a recently dispersed relative; death is simply not in their orbit. Unlike their loved ones, they have already moved on – showing no interest in current affairs; they are now peacefully busy in the afterlife of your dream.

***

Death is unlike the psychedelic experience of losing your mind, unless of course you have stopped identifying with mind.

Death is like a psychedelic confrontation with death; as the shaman guides you into the underworld, you begin to realise it is not an experience since there is no one there to experience it.

***

Death is unlike the end of time: time does not exist – death is timelessness. Time-bound perspectives result in a dislocated life leading to a belief in the false dichotomy of life and death.

Death is like Shrödinger’s Cat – a most perplexing paradox, and yet we all relate to its central question, ‘Is a life lived inside a box really living?’ To answer this, you first have to recognise the box you have created for yourself…

***

Death is unlike the biblical verse, ‘the wages of sin is death’, which is better read as, ‘the wages of a belief in sin are an unlived life’. Those who believe in sin either secretly or openly yearn for death, not because they long for paradise; rather, they have so devalued life that an end to it would be a relief.

Death is like the ego and the soul; they are the Emperor’s new clothes: beautiful ideas to adorn ourselves with. People believe they exist. With careful attention it is possible to see there is nothing there.

***

Death is unlike the pantomime of confession; the penitent and the priest exchanging imaginary gifts with the same meaning and predictability as a dog returning to its vomit.

Death is like saying, ‘I’ve had enough, I can’t go on’; it is only once you stop cleaving to the escapism of belief and hope that you might learn to live in the present.

***

Death is unlike right and wrong, or good and evil; it is the end of the prejudice of dualistic thinking.

Death is like a dream: it feels real and that it will end when you wake up. Once you see that dreaming neither begins nor ends, you realise death is just another dream image you dreamt up.

***

Death is unlike the road to hell paved with good intentions. Since good intent is a symptom of dis-ease, it is better to favour ambivalence and kindness over good intent.

Death is like the exquisite moment of giving up a sacred belief. The mind tries to process it as loss since it cannot yet process it any other way; it has not yet seen the value of such loss. 

***

Death is unlike the drama of life. Eternal life begins once you die to emotionality and drama, and yet despite your heart not really being in it anymore, you nonetheless return to them. It is no wonder so many continue seeking – they do not realise eternal life has already begun.

Death is that tree falling in the forest when there is no one there to witness it; it is like it never happened.

All rights reserved © Copyright Glenn Nicholls 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author of this post is strictly prohibited.

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