I don’t like to admit this but I’m completely afraid of death. On its simplest level, being afraid of death is a wholly irrational state of mind. It is akin to sitting outside on a beautiful June evening and being afraid that one day it may be February. Despair, resignation, anger….these are rational emotions to have when considering death. But fear? Why live in fear of falling prey to the same fate that has met every living organism in the history of the world?
Well…I suppose it is really fear of the unknown. There are so many competing theories on the afterlife and I find all of them terrifying. Total extinction, while one of the least desirable and most depressing, at least has the advantage of being the most settling. It’s just over…no reason to worry. The belief in reincarnation is a bizarre one. It brings many people comfort, but I fail to see how in the mind it is any different than extinction. I don’t remember past lives, so it stands to reason in future lifetimes I won’t remember this one. I am essentially a different person. Then, of course, there is the classic Heaven vs. Hell thing.
I guess at the end of the day this is what I “believe” in. I put it in quotes because I’m far from comfortable in this belief and there is really no logical argument I can make as to why I believe this beyond it just being the way I was brought up. I don’t think I’m alone…I think this is how most people’s belief system is developed. A lot of Christians seem absolutely certain they know exactly what will happen when they die…they will float up into the sky (or take a timeout in a box), meet Jesus and all their old friends, and exist forever in perfect harmony. I personally don’t understand how someone can KNOW without a doubt that this is what awaits them but I don’t hold this against them…maybe I just haven’t gotten THERE yet. What irritates me is that those who claim to be certain about their fate will acknowledge no fear of what this afterlife entails.
I find the concept of arriving in Heaven terrifying. I believe that anyone who claims otherwise is either lying or they really haven’t thought about it as much as they say. Think of how scary it is just to move to a city or start a new job. These are major life changes but you still retain nearly every aspect of your life. A transition from Earth to Heaven, no matter how much of an upgrade this may be, is certain to be a traumatic experience. It’s gonna take some getting used to. I mean, not to get overly theological, but just think about the adjustment it is going to require to get used to an environment devoid of “sin”. I don’t mean that like, “Oh man….now we can’t watch porn anymore.” I mean that everything EVERYTHING about our existence…our hobbies, leisure activities, occupations…is based on the concept of an imperfect world. Nearly all movies and books are focused on a conflict between good and evil….or more simply, are at least built around elements of imperfection. Nearly all art loses all meaning in a perfect world. Even religion loses meaning. In short, everything that brings us joy in this life would not exist in the Christian version of Heaven. And this doesn’t mean that what waits for us in Heaven is not worth giving up all these things, but it means that any concept we think we have of what Heaven is going to look like is completely off base. Heaven is the COMPLETE unknown…and even those who are not afraid of the unknown would be sure to tremble at this level of NEW. And all that is to say nothing of that moment of coming face to face with your creator. Humans like to play around with the theological meaning of “FEAR OF GOD” but the literal meaning is pretty obvious if you ask me.
Then there is Hell. I don’t believe in Hell. But since we are considering all options….this is the absolute worst case scenario. If I wake up a moment after death and feel heat I’m gonna be all like FUCK ME I WAS WRONG. Cause that would be terrible. And that’s all I’m going to say about it because it is an unpleasant thought.
Another annoying thing Christians do is talk about hating Earth. This often happens during prayer, usually near the end. It goes sort of like this: “Lord we know you’re coming soon and we pray that you hasten your arrival. We are so SO tired of inhabiting this miserable world and all the pain it brings and long for a new home beyond the stars.” And I just don’t buy it….I know there is a lot of pain in the world but I have quite enjoyed my stay here so far.
And that’s where we come to the despair. I have no idea what happens in the moments after death but I do know that I love life and don’t want it to ever end. I love the colors and the seasons and the people and mountains and art and music and conflicts. I don’t want all these things to continue on without me because I am TOTALLY selfish. I’m a human.
I recently purchased “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” in hopes that I would find it comforting. I haven’t gotten very far into it. It is nice inspirational reading but it is very aimed at accepting our impermanence and I don’t really want to do that. Part of me believes that if I don’t accept death I won’t die. That’s sort of what I’m holding on to. And if I do die I have to believe it will all turn out ok because everything else in life does….that change is just SOOO hard.