I approach a readiness for death that is new. There is almost a sense if nervous excitement. That feeling you get when being thrown into a new and completely unknown situation which has the possibility to either destroy or make you. I must admit to thinking more and more about the nature of consciousness. It is so beyond our realm of understanding that to raise theories about what happens after death is like someone who watches and believes Today Tonight claiming to understand the nuances of climate change policy; (please forgive my bringing up of such trivialities as the poor quality of australian journalism and general understanding of complex issues such as climate change. As a man who is dying and can see perhaps more clearly than most what is both truly important and truly going on I am infinity frustrated with the populace of the country of my birth.) Certainly death is the ultimate mystery. It is one moment we all must face. And yet as I look at society I realise how much everything everybody does is denying this one universal truth. We don’t talk about death. We glorify it in film while pretending it will never happen to us. We work far too hard on things that ultimately have very little importance. How many hours of bad tv have you watched? Probably a lot, I know I did. And yet how many hours have you spent contemplating life and trying to understand the nature of consciousness? I’m going to go out on a limb here and day not much. And why would you? The very idea if doing so brings images if social ostracization. In the end understanding who we really are and preparing ourselves for death is one of the most important things we can do. For we all must face death, and only in being comfortable with this can we truly live our lives. That is not to say that we should all become buddhist monks and go and live in a cave. No, doing this would be a knee jerk reaction too far. Humankind is a glorious thing and the exploration of its traits and behaviors through experience is an opportunity that its under appreciated. The study of science, from the cosmos to the atom is so glorious that even now my eyes fill with tears. (Tears both for its beauty, for my loss of it and the attitude of the general populace towards the miracle that we can appreciate the mysteries of life.) Only in exploring death and the very nature of our “souls” can we approach the freedom necessary to live life fully and deservedly.
And yet I look around and I am disgusted with what I see. So little thought is put into life. So many use short term pleasure as their yard stick with which to judge the way through life. In doing so they open themselves up to the exploration of those who chose to dispel fears of their own mortality by stockpiling money and power at the expense of others. One of the hallmarks of financial markets in recent years has been the increase in leveraged takeovers by reckless people using other peoples money to buy and strip firms. The destructive nature of their activity is rarely discovered before they have made their millions and left a company usually no better than it was before, and often worse. The activity of these people does not contribute to society, it merely redistributes wealth from those who don’t have much to those who have a lot. The poor stay happy, in front of their tv, the rich laugh all the way to the bank, and nobody is really happy or benefits in any way.
There are of course many truly good people out there. I have been honored to know so many good people and count many as friends. But amongst a society so shallow and fearful of death it is sadly difficult to explorw deeper aspects of everything.
As much as I disagree with many tenets of religion, its decline has been one of the major causes of modern societies increasing disinterest in all topics to do with death and meaning. Religion, when preached well, encourages a deep reflection on your life and death that can have profound benefit. Sadly the modern religion is continuous pleasure. We deserve this pleasure, we work hard and the advertising person constantly reminds us that we “have earned a treat”. The increasing rate and volume of data availability is a sad reflection of our inability to rest in silence and contemplate true meaning of any kind. The amount of material on the internet dealing with the cutting edge of scientific endeavor pales into insignificance when compared with the amount dedicated to the latest gossip on people more attractive but often less intelligent than ourselves.
I can almost picture myself reading this article before I got sick. I would read it with a sense if smugness. “I am not one of the people this is talking about. I genuinely understand my life and myself. And hell, even if I don’t really, I have all the time in the world to figure things out”. And sadly I know many people reading this today will think the same thing.
Now I must try and be clear. I have nothing against pleasure, and the activities that many use to chase it. But one thing must be understood. Pleasure is not happiness. Increasing the amount of an activity that gives you pleasure will not necessarily increase your happiness. This is especially true if the activity is one that dulls the mind and focuses attention away from true understanding of self. If you were to win the lottery tomorrow, buy that dream car, quit your job, go to the pub most evenings with an ever increasing number of mates, whittle away the years pursuing quick pleasures at the expense of long term insight, it is unlikely that you would be any happier than you are right now. In fact one could make a compelling case for you being less happy. True happiness in life has nothing to do with money, possessions, friends, or indeed anything outside yourself. True happiness is within, and I would argue that it is untimely involved with how much we truly look at ourselves. How much we explore our “souls”. How much we contemplate the temporary nature of life and what this means.
So, a post that started out with a simple update on my mental state had morphed into something far more complex and philosophical. Sadly I suspect I am not articulate enough for people to have taken much from it, our even read it in full. But in the end I guess it is something I needed to say and this blog achieves that if nothing else.
May you all find true happiness in whichever way you can. I offer my opinions freely and without agenda. I do not pretend to be right, but perhaps I can stimulate thought. Never be content with someone else’s ideas. Always infuse into them your own unique take on life, the universe and everything.