Wednesday, August 11, 2010



Why do we mourn death when it is inevitable? Why do we treat it like a tragedy when dead is without doubt, the natural state of all things? Life, whether from a spiritual or scientific view is almost universally regarded as miraculous. And given the age of the world, life is as brief as it is miraculous. Nothing lives for long. Nothing.

From a selfish standpoint I think an other's death reminds us of our own mortality which is something we're programmed to ignore by the "great union" or the "matrix"; terms I like to use for that overwhelming system of forces acted upon us by the symmetrical ruling structures of society and instinct. And with regards to those departed special loved ones who touch our lives in meaningful ways, we mourn our own loss of something we cherished and foolishly counted on; their magic touch.

But for those not-so-special people who go through life transparently selfish, sadly the larger contingent I suspect: I think we don't so much mourn their death as we mourn their official failure to ever live. We mourn the expiry of their last chance to do something with their life. I suspect that many of those who die slowly and with mind intact, experience toward the end a profound sense of failure and devastating regret over this.

Poets of old talk about the living death and this has resonated with me for a long time. Drawing breath; existing, is not the same as "living" in the poetic language.

To "work our job and collect our pay and glide down the highway" in the slightly-paraphrased words of Paul Simon is not in itself to live. Collecting possessions and coveting them is not to live, nor is building and coveting our reputations; something a vast majority of all our energies and resources are dedicated to daily, directly or indirectly whether we realize it or not. To vegetate in front of the television set, that most vacuous sedative; false art for the dull masses - that is not to live. Pursuing sex is not to live. Can you really live and still participate in some of these things? Of course. Though it depends upon the manner in which you participate; to what degree you make it an exploration.

Paul Simon says we're all slip-sliding away. The poets say we are "forever hurled into the pit." Certain Hindu-based offerings suggest that the dull masses are just animals and I perceive the same. Animals have no, or very very little consciousness, say neurologists. They are utterly slave to instincts. And though people need not be slave to instincts, we mostly are. Consciousness is a very new evolution on the grand scale of things - and as early evolutionary stages of any manner tend to go - consciousness is tragically ineffective in this infantile state. Consciousness absorbs a horribly small range of our actual experience. Just enough to confuse the holy crap out of us. Just enough that we invent such inept concepts as belief, and to then believe in the most self-evidently preposterous of ideas. It is just evolved enough that we perceive our own existence but in a terribly flawed way. Though consciousness seems our only link to perception of self, we can only see the product of our self as through the "eye of the other"; that image we seem to portray through our own manipulation of others' perception of our self - which does not actually exist because we really only conceive of our intentions while others only see our outward results. So we are doubly removed from reality. The self we see is an isolated phantom. Does that sound vaguely horrifying? I can tell you it is starkly horrifying when you first truly grasp it. But that's okay. You don't believe me right now because your instincts won't let you.

Yuck. I've taken us on a gloomy tangent, haven't I? If by some miracle you haven't completely dismissed all the above because it's too depressing to contemplate and you are actually finding some usefulness or consolidation in these understandings - please do not despair. There is a wonderful upside to all of this and I will treat it very briefly because the title up there says "death" and I've fallen off topic.

The matrix invites entitlement. There is much legitimate joy in stock for you when you defeat that entitlement and come to objectively appreciate the miracle of your own existence. And then again when you come to appreciate the power of the evolution of consciousness and it's tremendous rewards and tremendous accessibility. For evolution truly happens in individuals. It is only the very slow pattern of evolution that scientists measure and refer to as simply "evolution." As an individual you have the power to evolve your consciousness immensely if you're prepared to be courageous and to do the work. Why is it so accessible? Because mutation of bodily things require a reproductive generation per stage while your brain is literally re-wired with every thought, perception and observation!

To practice at evolving your consciousness is to separate yourself from the animals in the poetic view. I don't know how many ways there are to make this happen but I know how it works for me and for some others before me. It is through the arts. The genuine arts. Reading and writing. Absorbing music and composing it. It's in cinema and art galleries. It is in creation and imagination. It is in the blank page. It is in solitude. These pursuits enable understanding. They enable true learning. There is a fearsome hurdle along this path unfortunately but it's the only path I know so far. I'll talk about the hurdle another time. These pursuits above; it is in them that we live, in truth that we live, in loving kindness, in charity, in honest conversation, in the pursuit to improve our lives and that of others. We live through the products of consciousness because consciousness is the only thing separating us from the animals. And it is where harmony is conceived.

Do you grasp what I mean about living and living death in the poetic language?

I do not mourn death or the dying. I really don't. I only mourn the failure of breathing people to wake up and really live.

If my failure to mouth the typical words at times of bereavement puts you off, it is not that I am heartless. At funerals I am always in tears or just on the verge; just not for the presumed reasons.

Back to consciousness for just a moment. The scary question on my mind is this: In what direction is consciousness - as a pattern of evolution - currently evolving? Forward toward harmony (and joy and freedom) or backward toward chaos? Societal structures are born of instinct, arts from the consciousness. Which side is winning? Which brand of humans are breeding like rabbits? Evolution implies natural selection through random mutation; a virtual process of the underlying domination instinct which spawns all other instincts. The hitch: The evolved consciousness does not support the domination parent-instinct. In other words - is this as good as it's going to get for us? I hope not. Because as one who's discovered a bit late in life that kids are actually decent people after all - rather lovable in fact - I'd really like to see them craft a better community for themselves out of the rather dumb one we've provided.