The Mother Of All Fears – No You

Someone shared with me a few fears, and I suggested they look at the Mother of all fears – Fear of Death. Fear of Death is that ‘no self’ fear, but most folks tend to take it literally – no self as in now, in this life, not existing physically (huh??). Well, it is simpler. In death no ‘you’ is forever. Gone, never to be again. And if you consider why our ancient ancestors paid so much attention to death… well, they were bothered by the same considerations; human concerns haven’t changed that much over the past few thousand years.

My correspondent came to some pretty spot on insights, such as this one:

|| I don’t think I will ever know what death is, if it’s nothing I will never be there to see it, if it’s reincarnation THIS won’t be THERE to realize it.

OK, there is still a glimmer of hope in the above of carrying on beyond death, further, in some possible future form. Yet, somewhere deep inside we are all aware there is no hope of ‘incarnation’. ‘Forever’ means ‘forever’.

Death awarenenss is THE Gateway  to shifting one’s perspective on Life. Jed McKenna books paid death enough attention for good reason. But it has to be one’s own inner realisation, perhaps on the same devastating scale as it happened to Ramana. From my conversations with people it is very obvious who has experienced death awareness on the level necessary to internalise it so that one could live life without looking over one’s shoulder much.

I replied to the email with the following:

You are sport on in your reflections.

It is possible to live life in safety and live very long.

It is possible to live life in danger and live very short.

It is possible to live life in safety and live very short.

It is possible to live life in danger and live very long.

Four possibilities. Some people smoke like a trouper and die at 100, others never touched a cigarette and die from lung cancer at 50. Then there are those who smoke like a trouper and die from lung cancer at 50, and those who never smoked and die at 100.

It is an unknown. Which one will be yours? Who the hell knows. One thing for certain – whether you end up living dangerously or safely – you will die regardless.

And yes, that is all there is. No second chances, no incarnation, and even if I were to admit such a possibility, DESPITE the medical, biological, physical knowledge we possess now (unlike our guessing ancestors), what incarnates is not ‘me’ as you wisely observed. It will be a rock or a flower or a droplet of water or a tiger’s anus.

But. I don’t see any possibility of surviving own death until we get to the technologically advanced stage of proper bio-engineering. You and I have missed that train by a margin of at least a few future generations.

Now.. do you still want to feel anxious about that tomorrow’s job interview or your partner giving you the look or… whatever?

Sad, but true. You will not know death, no. You will know dying if you are unlucky. And if you are lucky – you will have an instant heart attack.”

No unicorns.

Most of you do not experience the real deprivation in the way you live right now: bombs exploding around you every hour, starvation from days without food, being in constant agony from serious physical pain, limited supplies of water, labouring after every little scrap of food, living under the immediate threat of death and torture and so on.

Below is a twenty-four hour real-time animation, to give humans an idea of the scale and to get them in touch with own mortality. The equivalent of a medium-sized town population is wiped out every eighteen hours. 100,000th person happens to expire at 18hr 52min 22sec.

Place your life in (real) perspective; see how far it can take you.

4 thoughts on “The Mother Of All Fears – No You

  1. A thought provoking post. It never ceases to amaze me the lengths (most) people go to, to avoid discussing and confronting the one event that bestows us all.

    I have personally struggled with the notion of coming to an end since I was a boy, realising one day my Mum and Dad won’t be there anymore. It still haunts me in the early hours of the morning, laying in bed when its dark and the house is quiet: That one day I will die too. No-one is going to die for me, death is a solo undertaking. The way I deal with it (that gut-wrenching feeling) is to face it straight on. Was it Jed who said something along the lines of “pull death close”?

    Nonetheless I have a few ponderings that help me sooth the angst, if I may share:

    1. If I die and its truly ‘lights out’ – then that’s okay, because ‘I’ wont be there to experience it.

    2. If I die and find myself continuing in some form or another, then that’s okay too, because I wont have truly died.

    3. To exist presently is a ‘doing’ – a struggle against constant decay. However, death isn’t a ‘doing’, its the opposite – i.e. a ‘non-doing’. An unravelling of sorts. No effort required. Total surrender. Subsequently, the effort required to sustain myself now, whether that’s biological or mental is no longer required. I find that a great relief. To let that all slide off into non-existence.

    In my opinion, I think its the pain and suffering experienced beforehand that is most frightening. Like for example, being squished by a bulldozer has to be pretty slow & painful before actually dying. So yes, a swift heart-attack sounds like a preferable exit.

    Find out one day, will avoid bulldozers in the mean-time.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful input, Oliver, and for being honest.

      I personally dispensed with No.2. Individual consciousness is supported by the body, springs forth from it. What we now know about the processes of decay and the energy conservation principle – tells me that no body survives, and therefore, no individual Mind and its property – consciousness – survives either.

      We have not yet found a way of copying the entire contents of one’s mind and placing it into a different vessel. I will have truly died and have accepted that as a given.

      Like yourself, I occasionally get that gut-wrenching feeling, usually once every few months. It can be in the middle of any activity, not at night. My nights are about sleep and are peaceful.

      But it is not agony or fear now. It is the most honest moment when one appreciates the value of being alive and upholds an all encompassing perspective on life, beyond and above own mortality.

      Death awareness has been a friend to me for a long time; it taught me the most.

      As for No. 3… struggle is what makes one move, keeps them alive. Without struggle – all is motionless, dead. Imagine you had absolutely no problems, nothing to overcome, nothing to be concerned about. What kind of life would that be? Comfortable, but snoozy, sleepy, purposeless.

      Struggle gives us a purpose in the overall purposelessness of being alive.

      I love your last statement. Definitely best to avoid bulldozers.

  2. “Like yourself, I occasionally get that gut-wrenching feeling, usually once every few months. It can be in the middle of any activity…”
    Likewise, often pops in that overwhelmingly sweet and sublime feeling of wholeness, perfection, completeness and union. It’s nothing outrageously blissful, or whatever other guruspeak word one wants to use. It’s just a sort of soft joy and gratitude that washes over, and through. A reminder that Existence, Life is magical. Then it’s back to planting another banana tree.

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