Dying to know me

Probably because of some deep and penetrating correspondence with a friend, who is currently in India, I lay in bed last night and considered the conundrum regarding why thinking about existence seems to be such an elusive pastime. I see Julian Barnes has brought out a book, Nothing To Be Frightened Of, but, according to the reviewers, he has done a pirouette around death, maintaining it as the empty fulcrum of his dissertation on how well he might be prepared for it. I WILL read it when the right time comes (not THAT time – the penalty shoot-out, I mean the right reading time). I was discussing with my friend how, through meditation, we attempt to achieve a death-like state, more than le petit mort of the orgasm, but a sort of total unknowing, of our existence. We often consider death to be on a par with pre-being. The abyss from which we flew, at conception, is paralleled by some with the ultimate nothingness into which we fall, wingless, at death.

To me there is no real resonance between the two. Whilst coming into life gives us a multitude of canvases whereon all things may be painted, the final acts are ones where these canvases are scrumpled up and our exhibition space is closed down. We never have to come to terms with original being. It just is. The completion of life is different. As I said at the beginning, it is hard to train the mind to reflect with absolute rigour and focus upon the end of being. If you experience it like I do, the more you try to pin down its amoebic formlessness, the more it shapeshifts, leaving the pins holding only themselves.

Religions race in at this point, blowing the trumpets of redemption or forgiveness or believable, to some, gnostic ladders into the unknown. Many of us grasp them in relief because it stops us having to battle with the awesome business end of life. So, generation after generation has little of worth to pass on to its offspring about how they might manage the conundrum better than us.

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