Memento mori

| Ton Haarmans

Memento mori

The Emperor asked Master Gudo, "What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?" "How should I know?" replied Gudo. "Because you are a master," answered the Emperor. "Yes sir," said Gudo, "but not a dead one."


time flies About 150,000 people die every day in the world. You and I will die too. Could be through an aneurysm in 5 minutes, could be by a car accident next year, could also take 20 years or more. I am currently (August 14, 2020) 67 years old and that's 24683 days. According to death clock, I would die on August 10, 2024, aged 71. Not so good. OK, maybe I should do something about my BMI, exercise more and not drink 'tinto de verano' every day ...
In addition to alcohol, I take a blood thinner, a cholesterol inhibitor and an antacid every day. And I almost do not eat any meat. Hopefully that will help too. But anyway, one day the day will come, which will be my last ... causes of death

I don't want to die. I have a huge fear of not being there anymore. The idea of ​​not being there anymore just baffles me. The many painful ways to die also are terrifying to me: suffocation, burning, decapitation, a heart attack. How horrible.

Someone recently posted on Facebook: "At the end of the day, the only purpose of spiritual seeking is to make peace with one's fear of death." I think that's true, but I find it anything but easy to dwell on this.

In fact, the fear of extincion is our most basic fear. This fear is being described as "the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just 'fear of death'. The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building."

And what would happen in the supreme moment? In all likelihood it looks like going under anesthesia: bang, lights are out, no consciousness, nothing. Without ever waking up again. The body has been dying for years and one day the heart also gives up, the brain no longer receives blood and dies too and that's it.
That's what I think, but of course I don't know. That is only true if our entire existence is only material. Perhaps there is "something" in us that is non-material and this "soul" or separate consciousness survives physical death. Perhaps everything is consciousness and our life is only a phase in a larger whole in that consciousness and we enter a new phase after death, perhaps in a new body ...

Many people believe something like that. But why should I believe that? Is there evidence for a 'life after death' (sounds absurd to me, but OK...)? Is there evidence to support the idea that consciousness is primary and the world only a phenomenon in and as that consciousness?

I don't think so. For instance: some spiritual teachers use the following reasoning: you can never experience anything that is not in the mind or in consciousness and therefore there is only consciousness. But such a statement really only says that consciousness exists. Yes, of course it does. But it says nothing about the ontological state or nature of consciousness. But there is also no proof for the reverse, which is called physicalism (the assumption stating that everything is physical, and that immaterial properties - things of a biological, psychological, moral or social nature - arise from the physical, meaning: the properties of elementary particles and associated force fields). Physicalists have the greatest difficulty with the existence of that same consciousness; they call this the 'hard problem' and it boils down to the following: the experience of the color red (or any other perception) cannot be reduced to properties of elementary particles and forces ... There are also physicalists who completely deny there is at all such a thing called 'consciousness', which is, of course, absurd.

Between the idea that there is only consciousness and the idea that there is only matter, there are countless intermediate forms. For example 'panpsychism': this considers consciousness as an intrinsic property of all matter. Handy, because then you don't have to explain how matter produces consciousness or vice versa how consciousness creates material reality. A difficult point then is that even elementary particles also must have some form of consciousness. Try to prove that ...

Life is now Conclusion: no conclusion. And by extension to the question of whether there is a personal survival after the death of the body: we do not know. Nobody knows.

As for me personally, I don't see how there can be consciousness without a living brain. Even the reports of people who have had a near-death experience (NDE) cannot convince me, because the brain may not have been (very) active, but of course it was still alive ...

So it comes down to learning to live with the uncertainty and with the real possibility that there is simply nothing after death ...

One thing I do know for sure: I live and I live now, which is absolutely incredible. Hence, the poet Horace compared the day to a flower:

[...] sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem quam minimum credula postero.

[...] be wise, clear the wine and put down your future dream the short time that is given to you. While we are talking the jealous time already flown: seize the day and count on tomorrow as little as possible.