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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Death Doesn't Have To Be a Four Letter Word

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends was killed. I have often thought (and reasonably so) that the single greatest fear we all share- is that of our own death.

Imagine being an atheist. You have zero belief in any power greater than yourself. You have no hope for any life beyond what you are experiencing here. You think we are swamp creatures, delivered here in some cosmic strike 4.7 billion years ago. What brought that first living cell? Where did it come from? What sparked that first cell to begin it's glacial march through evolution to life as we know it?

Proof of life. Proof of a power greater than ourselves, is all around you. It is you. You don't need anything else. You don't really need a Bible or a religion to establish proof. You don't even really need the historic account. Your existence here is proof that life was delivered here. So what are we debating? Who made the delivery?

We fear. We fear the unknown and we don't trust it. And when we fear what appears to be a vast unknown, we can't intelligently grasp it. We struggle mightily. We have nagging doubts. Now what I am about to post here has a political theme. Please ignore that. The political angle is not what I am focused on. I am focused on the fear driven coping mechanism of a human being that cannot trust the life-death-life cycle. This comment was in response to an offered premise that the fear of death is what drives people to do what they do. Although the comment doesn't deal directly with that subject, it attempts to expand what motivates people to make sense of their lives because and I assume here- that the writer is speaking of those people with no sense of a power greater than themselves. The writer may be right. I clipped this comment for that very reason.

From the leftist site Alternet in 2007:

“People who want to see the world bettered — made more just and honest and kind — often set their gaze on the farthest horizon. Our instinct, as progressives with global perspectives, is to obsess over situations far afield of our own backyards — Indonesia, Sudan, the Middle East. These situations stir a sort of Peace Corp romance within us, a love affair with that which might make us feel gallant and extraordinary for caring.

I am as guilty as the next bleeding heart of focusing the majority of my energies on problems I see as compelling in large part because of their strangeness to me. But when I sit with myself, quiet my righteous indignation, my whiny white guilt, my attachment to the idea that I am a humble truth teller among powerful fibbers, I realize that it is not the world outside of me that is in most desperate need of my world-changing instincts. It is the world inside of me, the world between me and my beloved.”

I used to be able to stomach leftist rhetoric, as a way of knowing what they are thinking and expressing amongst themselves. 4 yrs ago when I read this confession of projection, I waited a few days to allow a leftist poster to disagree and defend the concrete and objective benefits of their activism. No one did so…so I have no conclusion to draw other than that leftists project their flaws and problems onto the entire world and into the situations of distant strangers as a way of avoiding the hard work of self-betterment in their own lives and communities. Truly scary and sick people, to be shunned by all of us with a healthy instinct of self-preservation.

-I cut this comment for two reasons. The writer is just beginning to scratch the surface of personal awareness. The world isn't the problem, I am. I am always the problem. This is an absolute. The second thing I'd take away here is that clearly there is a lot of spiritual growth left here. That blaming others to make myself feel better theme. I note that level of ego attachment and unconsciousness because I could have written this very thing a few years ago. I was very adept at recognizing everyone else's flaws while ignoring the vastness of my very own. Conscious thought now can only lead me to the following truth.

The only way to conquer fear is acceptance. In order to conquer fear, I must accept the process of death. I must let go of a rock that I have been clinging to my entire life. I must trust that when I let go, that a power greater than myself has arranged the journey and that I will not get dashed on a rock by the current.

It is by trust and love that I achieve acceptance. In other words, if you fear death- you are by default- denying the existence of your Creator. Or you have identified the Creator as being hate filled or punishing. If you believe in a hate filled and punishing Creator you are in fear. You cannot come to terms with the idea of the unknown. It scares you. You are relegated to the hordes that cannot grasp the idea that a Creator or God must practice unconditional love. That the Creator will take care of you. That is the promise that came with that first living cell.

Show me a human being that is not afraid to die and I will show you someone that believes in the universal language of unconditional love.

Today, I choose not to live in fear. When I am fearful, I am the problem. It is my perceptions, limited as they may be, that prevent me from trusting a process that was designed and delivered long ago. And if I am to truly practice unconditional love in a power greater than myself, then I have to believe that very love will be reciprocated and practiced by a Creator far greater than myself. I have to trust the death process. And if I can't- I am just a fearful and practicing agnostic or atheist, aren't I?

Today, I see things in a way that I never thought was possible. I am grateful and somewhat humbled for a remarkable journey that was facilitated by a power far greater than I. Left to my unconscious belief systems, my arrival and journey here, might have been fun but void of spiritual growth. I am able to understand and to trust a process that will visit the ones that I know and love- and it will visit me. I can either accept, trust, and love that process or I can be fearful, untrusting, and dread it. These are the choices I make today.