In part 1 of ‘Life’s a Bitch and Then You Die’, we looked into the fact that life comes with its fair share of suffering. It became clear to us that suffering is a facet of life that cannot be entirely avoided.
We then considered the possibility that this suffering can be met and related to in more or less effective ways, and that a highly conscious relationship to suffering allows us to live more freely and powerfully. (Really)
In much the same way, here we will look into the nature of death, and try to create a more powerful and free relationship to it. This process will start with you becoming more conscious, and end with the creation of a new kind of relationship and context. This article acts primarily as an invitation for you to do your own investigation. It is not valuable as a set of facts or bits of advice, but as a finger pointing to the moon and a cattle prod to push you into action.
Explanation – Why are we doing this?
An intentional consideration of death is advocated here because our culture tends not to acknowledge the fact of death, and so we live our lives in an unnecessarily unconscious relationship to this apparent impending demise.
This unconsciousness leads to many unseen consequences that degrade our quality of life by generating fear and perpetuating ignorance. Whether you know it or not, your relationship to YOUR death has an ever-present effect on your experience of things.
Your conception of and feelings about death frame your experience of life in more ways than you typically acknowledge. It is for this reason that we are served to become conscious and to create consciously.
I hope that you consider these topics for yourself and come to a place where death and suffering are no problem. It is through intentionally directed attention and an open mind that we make this change. Become familiar with DEATH so that LIFE can be an intimate experience.
Treat the following like a guided contemplation in which you are seeking to experience something true about death. It will unfold as follows…
- What do we have, where do we stand?– we will examine our relationship to and understanding of death with the intent to learn something new about it.
- Direct experience of the Truth– we will look into the Truth of Death existentially- what is death for real?
- Examining unseen consequences and implications– we will come to know how our death concept affects us daily, for better or worse.
- Creating a powerful way of being– we will investigate more effective and empowering ways of relating to death.
What do we have, where do we stand?
There is a lot to learn about death and the effects of such internal work will permeate every domain of your life.
Our first area of consideration is in the domain of thought and emotion. Most of the content you will come across in your contemplation of death is conceptual and not existentially existent or true.
For this reason, we will attempt to become conscious of as much of this fabricated reality as possible, letting go of all that which hinders our freedom and power in life. Each of the following considerations will help you drive attention to the heart of your death concept.
- First and foremost realize that you do not know what death is. You may have a theory, a story, or some variation of ‘I just don’t know’, none of this is knowledge. The fact that an event with such significance is fundamentally unknown likely has a profound effect on your experience of self and life.
- What are the implications of this not knowing? What do you do with the lack of knowledge? If you are uneasy and want to resolve that feeling what might you do?
- Can you sense unease about the topic? Do you feel the internal resistance to even considering the matter? Why might you resist it? What purpose would that resistance serve?
- It is important to deeply grasp the significance of death. Everyone you know, including yourself, seems to eventually encounter it. Death is everywhere. Not only does death pervade life, but it is also its antithesis. Life, which is what we tend to value above all else is negated by death. This makes death the ultimate ‘bad thing’. Try to grasp the fact that death is a big deal. Try to also grasp that you and your culture avoid the subject.
- Have you overlooked death in an attempt to make it less significant?
- Why might you downplay the significance of death?
- What might the implications be for overlooking the fact that everyone dies?
- As you read this, why aren’t you looking into it?
- Grasp that you don’t want to die. This may seem obvious, but try to experience that as true. We often become disconnected from the visceral experience of ‘I want to live’.
- Why don’t you want to die?
- What is it about death that is so appalling?
- Why might you disconnect from this desire for life? Why might you disconnect from this fear of death?
- Contemplate what death is. What do YOU think death is? Being as honest as possible, look into your most true experience of death. What’s there?
- How do your death concepts show up?
- A story
- What is the nature of these concepts? Are they true? If not why do you hold them? If they are true- how do you know?
- How do your death concepts show up?
Not only should we grasp something new, but it is also important to let go of something old. Much of what you may have discovered previously is an unnecessary conceptual overlay that serves only to obstruct your direct experience of self and life.
Letting go of everything that is not directly experiential verified opens your mind and thought, allowing you to come into more direct contact and alignment with whatever the case may be.
- Everything you ‘know’ about death is a story that you’ve been told. None of your understanding of death comes from your own experience. You haven’t died! Try to let go of these stories so that you can contemplate death more openly. It is only through openness that deeper insight is possible.
- Who told you these stories?
- Why might they have told you? What purpose do stories serve?
- What might the effect of such stories be? If they are not true but are believed to be true, what happens to your experience?
- Your fear of death can be let go because it is unwarranted. If you do not even know what it is, what are you afraid of? Instead of fear simply allow not knowing to be the case. You are afraid of your ideas about death, not death itself.
- Which ideas cause you to feel the way you do about death?
- Why do you engage in this activity? What purpose does storytelling and conceptualization serve?
- Your entire relationship to death is experienced as if it were ‘just so’, when, in truth, it is only one way of experiencing things. Different cultures have different concepts that lead to vastly different relationships and feelings about death. Grasp the fact that your perspective has been arbitrarily created. And then let go of it as true. Hold your perspective and feeling relationship as a tentative hypothesis or possibility rather than the truth, or an obvious way of being.
- Where did you learn to feel that way about death?
- Do you see that some people welcome death? How can this be the case?
- Try to question your entire relationship to death (conceptually, emotionally, mentally)
When we do this work we come to understand that we have accumulated many ideas about death that are unnecessary, burdensome, untrue, unfounded, and delusional.
Before we even discover the true nature of death, we can evolve our relationship to it in ways that deeply empower our lives and engender a newfound appreciation for all that is.
Before moving on to the next section ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I know about death when I let go of everything I’ve been told about it?
- Do I run away from the subject of death and downplay its significance?
- Why don’t I want to die?
- How much of my understanding of death comes from my own experience? And how much have I simply picked up from my culture?
- What Am I afraid of?
- Is my relationship to death based on fundamental truth or culturally inherited cosmology?
Direct experience of the Truth
Now we will contemplate death with the intent of discovering what it is. We’re after an experiential insight into the nature of death. Don’t let the brevity of this section fool you- contemplating death warrants hours of your dedicated attention.
We will start and end by asking ‘what is death?’ and intending to experience the truth.
Grasp that what we’re referring to as death is something that exists in some way, but be open and without preconception about what it might be
This is not about the death of other people, which can only ever be observed from without. Contemplate the death of the thing you are right now. Focus only on the death of you for a while.
Hold death as a possibility.
Try to discern what it may be.
How does your current experience of this moment relate to what you call death?
What is death?
Discovering the hidden consequences of our death concept
—Fear— Look into it and notice that it need not be. I don’t feel like writing this part. figure out for yourself- its worth it
Creating a powerful way of being
Now that we’ve looked into what we think and feel about death, and contemplated the existential true nature of death, it is time to reorient ourselves to the apparent event such that our lives are empowered.
There are many things we can do to facilitate this readjustment. Here I will suggest a few methods and contextual shifts to help you evolve your concept of and relationship to death.
- Note that whatever idea you have about death is necessarily something you have created.
- Any concept about death (and for the most part that is all you have) was either given to you by your culture or made up by your mind to fill the void of not knowing in that area.
- Given this ‘created’ nature, our concept of death can be changed, or re-created in such a way that our understanding is more aligned with whatever is there. Look to recreate our death concepts and relationships so that we are empowered, enlivened, and freed.
- First, we create a base of not knowing. This puts every subsequent death concept into the category it belongs- concept.
- We confuse our mental creations for reality. One purpose of these concepts is to act as a placeholder for real knowledge.
- The other purpose is to create feelings and thoughts that cause us to lead better, more fulfilling lives.
- This base of not knowing with regards to death allows us freedom from past creations and power over all those we create moving forward.
- Deeply grasp that you have no direct experience of death. Without direct experience you have nothing. Allow death to be a complete mystery to you.
- Then, it is up to us to create and discover the most accurate and empowering perspectives on death. Doing so requires intent applied through time. The result is a better feeling of Being.
- We discover what is true beyond our current concept, even if (especially if) what we discover is simply ‘not knowing’
- Then we create something that feels good based on this discovery
- All the while keeping in mind that we do not know. Remaining detached from every idea. These are placeholders used to move you towards truth, power, and freedom
- Whatever you come up with should feel authentically good (no lying to yourself), encourage you to live more fully, and be as honest as possible.
These discoveries/creations come to us in many forms and have varied effects on our experience. Make it a habit to contemplate your death. Let it be terrible and ask why it is so. Deep meaning is found in the fact of death.
The purpose of this article is to show you that something as real and serious as death is of your own making.
Make something good, or discover the truth.