Friday, May 28, 2010
The Big Sleep (part 5)
Why is it that when you have been writing about a subject (death in this case) your life imitates art. Not that I have died since my last blog, nor anyone that close to me, but the subject of death has entered conversations and I am sure that I have not guided it there. Maybe something happened telepathically, the way it can. Jung called it synchronicity, a sort of juxtaposition of events, thoughts or feelings that seem beyond normal understanding. (I have just read that paragraph and it raises the interesting notion of communication from beyond the ether by blog. You wouldnâ€™t know whether I was dead or alive, would you?!)
Anyway, I was asked at a dinner party whether I believed in God and I said no, I was more of a rudimentary Buddhist. The conversation went on to whether there is an Afterlife. I said that no-one, as far as I know, had come back to tell us that there was. I remember once going to a spiritualist church where everyone believed their families were out there or up there, waiting for them with open arms but it seemed to me to be on a par with end of the pier magic shows.
Anyway, one of the group, a seemingly staid vet, told a gripping tale about the death of his mother. When they were gathered together as a family, to share out her jewellery and other possessions, an argument broke out between two of her daughters over a particular piece which was missing. Then a third daughter broke in. Speaking in their motherâ€™s voice she declared that this particular heirloom was hidden in a drawer and described where they might find it. The girl had never spoken in tongues before or since and they were all rather scared by hearing their mother speak through her. Whether this constitutes proof of life after death I know not. But it did to them. I am unsure whether Christianity embraces ghosts or otherworldly communication, since my religious education ended when I was eleven and thrown out of the choir of the local church but I have a feeling it doesnâ€™t. Heaven has air-locked gates and no email, wireless or sepulchral voices to communicate with us.
My own mother swore than when people in the family died, the fire irons would rattle in the hearth but I never saw it.
There are plenty of stories but they never happen to me. I am a Doubting Thomas, I suppose and want to see the wraith or hear the disembodied voice, myself. I would willingly spend a night in a haunted house, happily waiting for the chains to clank, the doors to creak and the hollow tread on the floorboards.
Back to the dinner party, it emerged that all of them missed their parents â€“ mothers in particular â€“ so much so that they wanted there to be an afterlife so that they could rejoin them. Maybe I am made of sterner stuff or maybe I am an unfeeling old sod but I donâ€™t experience that longing, much as I loved my Mother. It seems to me that whatever this life has for us, it does not include extensions into other dimensions. Buddhists believe that there is a connection between this life and the next and the others that follow but the analogy I heard one of them use was that of a snooker ball striking another and then that one striking a further ball. The first ball makes the others move but they remain, sadly, separate and unable to communicate, otherwise.
So, if you wish, the hereafter is all balls, unless you are a believer.