Death

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walker
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Post by walker » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi, All Fellow Associates.
I have been reading all posts with great interest and they have been very helpful. Some confirm my own perceptions and others raise doubts I still have to elaborate on.
I am presently experiencing some quite difficult times. My father, who was one hundred years old last October, got pneumonia and because of this had a cardiac arrest, a pulmonary edema and a couple of other major health problems. He is in critical condition in an intensive care unit of a hospital. Surprisingly, he is responding well to treatment and has improved somewhat.
His quality of life was already very poor before this event. Having been a very active person all his life, his physical shortcomings forced him to stay at home, mostly in bed or in an easy chair, moving around in a wheelchair. Let alone a great deal of constant pains and other major inconveniences, to say the least.
Last May I lost my Mother with Alzheimer’s. This separation from his 71 years companion had a major effect on him. He lost interest in everything: newspapers, TV, music, reading and even conversation. He has no living friends or relatives from his generation and I am his only son. Nothing seems to motivate him anymore, except the fixed idea it is time to pass away.
All he says and urges for is to die with dignity, the same dignity he lived all his life.
I can’t help but to wonder what’s the use of having him go through so much pain an suffering in that cold intensive care unit. Even if the doctors are successful in winning this crisis, which seems to be the case, he will return home to a miserable life, probably worst than the one he had before, if such a thing is possible. But again, who am I to judge what’s best for him?
There is a time for living and a time for dying. If one is fortunate enough to have had a good and long life, facing death comes naturally and does not seem to be as hard as we younger (well, I feel young at 71) people fear.
Your posts have helped me walk my way through this passage. Thank you all.


A Eternidade _© o Instante<br>O Instante _© a Realidade<br>A Realidade _© o Sutil<br>O Sutil _© o Vazio<br>O Vazio _© a Eternidade<br><br>walker
Ruiz
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Post by Ruiz » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi Walker!

It's nice to see your name appear again.

If there is one thing I have learned from this discussion it's that we all have a tendency to think our "idea" of nature is more real than it's real counterpart.

I lost my parent's recently and that experience was painful. It was painful to see my father lose my mother.

I don't think either one of them benefited from their religion in the way I "imagined" it would. Death sort of caught them and us by surprise.

I'm not sure but I got the feeling that my mother's religion failed her at the end. She had this "idea" that God would be gentle with her because of a lifetime of long devotion and sacrifice. God wasn't gentle with her in her fight with cancer.

Many members of my family were shaken by our parents ordeal and we somewhat lost our faith. We are trying to regain it but it's not the same anymore.

I sometimes get the impression that mythology is trying to provide the band-aid to make everything alright again.

There is something in me that knows why I'm attracted to ideas and mythology. In a way I'm attracted to the direct opposite of what reality is.

I suspect Carl Jung was correct when he said that the unconscious in us tries to compensate for what we experience consciously.

It's no wonder we have compensatory dreams and visions stemming from the unconscious that make us feel better.

In reality we flow through life very like what we see happen to plants and animals. To everything there is a season.

Sometimes I get the feeling that we should not think just "be." That is why in an earlier post I suggested graduating from mythology.

Mythology was the way to coming to realize "being" is what it's all about and it's in the nature of being that everything has a season.

We should think but as a practical affair; use our thinking to make our lives better. Our thinking would not be an unenlightened thinking because mythology primed us to appreciate our sense of being. (truly living in the moment)

I would probably be a leaf that is starting to turn yellow as it approaches it's final season. ( I keep on seeing white hairs appearing on me!)

Walker, in a way your father is still a leaf hanging from the tree. It's not his time yet.

I don't think we should shake the tree and I don't think the leaf should be trying to break loose.

To everything there is a season. (The Tao has its ways)

PS I forgot to mention that with today's technology the leaf has probably been dyed green and is supported by a crane or brace to hold it from falling. :smile:

Glad to see you back!

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ruiz on 2004-12-13 19:50 ]</font>
CarmelaBear
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Post by CarmelaBear » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

My parents and older sister died some years ago. The ordeal of the last days was beyond anything I had ever imagined, and the transformation it occasioned was not what I could have expected.

There is the experience of the body shutting down and the mind realizing it will not awaken. That is one severe problem with which we wrangle every day, every minute.

There is the boundary between will/action and absolute/everlasting passivity. We become a memory in the minds of others (for good or ill) or we dissolve into nothingness.

When we have died, there is the reckoning by others. Governments count our property and publish it in the court records. Newspapers fill an inch or two with a summary of relevant facts and names. Disposition is made of our "remains". Prayers may be spoken. Words may be associated with our names, marked by the date of entry and the date of exit from the mortal coil.

There are survivors.

I survived my parents. I survived being the child in a family of eight children. I survived being cast into a world where I'm not as crucial, not as much to blame, and not loved the way parents love.

Someone will survive me.

They will survive being one of my siblings or nephews or nieces or cousins or aunts and uncles. I won't be survived by many friends or acquaintances. Those must be earned, and I'm too difficult and unattractive for that honor. Then, my survivors will know how it feels to be less crucial, less blameworthy, and no longer loved the way a sister or an aunt or a cousin or a niece loves.

I seek to love well, and mythology tells me the tales of those who sought after the same goal. Most failed, as I'm failing, but now and again, there is hope. There is something we can strive for with real heart and soul.

We see a way to love ourselves and to love others and to care for what is in our charge.

Mythology is a great gift.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: CarmelaBear on 2004-12-13 17:34 ]</font>
Evinnra
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Post by Evinnra » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Last year my father passed away, he was the person who had the strongest influence over the development of this individual I became. His spirit was gentle but brave, he was inclined to rationalise yet he always regarded emotions as the most significant contribution a person can make. I will miss him until I can see him again, it is hopeless pretending otherwise.

Since his death my life turned around, as if he was guiding me from above, not only with advice – like he did when he was alive – but with a sense of inner strength which blew away my resignation and apathy. It was really quite strange, an inexpressible sense of duty to fulfil all that my faith delegated me to do returned.

The reason I am sharing this information is because what Bodhi_Bliss wrote

“ As one example, in 1937 – well after the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics had been established – Niels Bohr visited China. There he found that the symbology of Taoism – particularly that of the polarity of yin and yang – matched his concept of complementarity, the theory by which he resolves the paradox of how light can be both particle and wave, alluded to above by Heisenberg. He believed he and the Taoists were at least swimming in the same ocean – and, in 1947, when selecting his family coat of arms, Bohr gave a central place to the traditional yin/yang symbol of polarity: the familiar circle divided into a light and dark halves by a serpentine line, with a circle of dark contained in the centre of the light half, and a circle of light contained in the centre of the dark half.”

After my father’s death, I quit believing in death all together. Death became a doorway to an other type of existence, where we still have connection to our ‘conscious’ experience, mirroring symmetrically how we do experience death in ordinary life in deep dreamless sleep. It is very hard to describe what I mean, but the closest image to explain this view is the ancient Chinese symbol of yin and yang. Maybe one day – with the help of this ancient metaphor – science will prove that there is nothing else but life in the universe?

Evinnra

'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
http://evinnra-evinnra.blogspot.com
CarmelaBear
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Post by CarmelaBear » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Evinnra,

Thank you for your remembrance of your father.

Psychologists say that women who feel compelled to achieve the kinds of things that were once the exclusive domain of men have been strongly influenced by fathers and father-figures. Being close to our fathers brings out qualities we might not access through the influence of mothers and women.

Having spent seven years living alone with my father, following completion of my law degree and the onset of my Dad's final illness, I am occasionally consumed by memories of him. He had a gentle side that dominated his time and a side that was unusually intense and heedless of relationships. I see and understand both of those qualities in myself, and attribute them to exposure to his personality.

He was highly educated, deeply spiritual and complex. The most important lesson I learned from him came out of the defining event of my childhood, when I witnessed an awful conflict and had the wonderful experience of a father who could respond with great love and patience in the face of what American culture tells us is cause for punishing others and complete estrangement. In that instance, he responded, but in a way that was intended to help. He was somewhat estranged out of self-protection, but never completely, and he succeeded in restoring much that was good in the relationships affected.

When he first died, in 1987, even the skeptic in me couldn't believe he was really, completely dead. Now, I hope his life essence still exists somewhere in the universe, and I'm no longer so sure that he's still around. I'm not sure that the idea of the "soul" has any meaning in the real world, for example. The feeling of his presence and his consciousness in my life has faded over the passing years.

Frankly, I don't want him watching me in the bathroom or bedroom, and I'd rather he not float through walls in my room or in my brain. Ooooh!

The sadness was always mitigated by the fact that when he could be cruel, he created a wall between us that would never disappear, and it protects me even now. How can I miss the man who slapped me, even if I understand his emotions and his actions. Understanding doesn't remove that wall, and when he died, I knew that it kept me from drowning in sorrow and self-pity over the loss of my most beloved friend. Indeed, now that he has annointed me with his cruelty, there is no cruelty in the world that will ever have such power over me again. He immunized me against the harsh responses of others.

All my wrongs in the world come from what I say. My words are the only thing for which I've ever been punished by anyone at any time. So, when I insult or offend and get "slapped", the pain is less and I'm able to understand those who would respond in that way.

Speaking from my heart is worth the risk of severe reprisal, and my ability to make nuclear verbal attacks with a scorched earth intensity is the legacy of my gentle, ill-tempered father. My father's daughter is a verbal terror and somewhat proud of it.

Anyone willing to take me on is brave and courageous and heroic and remarkably naive. Most people, especially in these forums, give me wide berth. In the meantime, I really have to get a hobby.

To Dad: Good night, sweet prince.
Evinnra
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Post by Evinnra » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-12-25 10:07, CarmelaBear wrote:
When he first died, in 1987, even the skeptic in me couldn't believe he was really, completely dead. Now, I hope his life essence still exists somewhere in the universe, and I'm no longer so sure that he's still around. I'm not sure that the idea of the "soul" has any meaning in the real world, for example. The feeling of his presence and his consciousness in my life has faded over the passing years.
Carmela,

Perhaps we are onto something here with your quote asking if the idea of 'soul' has any meaning in the real world. Is there anything in us which is innate and ever-lasting, or is it all built by experience? I must admit to have a firmly one sided view on this question, that is we all have innate predispositions to experience the 'real' world. However this view fly straight into the face of postmodernist philosophycal thinking which claims that even our rational reasoning ability is learned through experience (culture). Correspondingly, evolutionary psychology claims that we inherit certain predispositions through our genes to solve problems in a certain way. This evolutionary psychology (EP) - if I understand it correctly - gives a rather mechanical understanding of the human spirit, but it does not explain adequetly why do identical twins - growing up in the same family and confronting the same life changing circumstances - do end up developing different personality. What I am trying to point to here is just what you mentioned about the human 'soul'.

If there is a 'soul'within us is it everlasting, or is it impermanent? (mind you it is a rhetorical question on my behalf, but I am open for any new ideas). Is it easyer to imagine infinity than to imagine 'nothingness'? What metaphorical references do we have in our global culture to help us relate to this question other than the symbol of yin and yang representing life?

Evinnra

ps: thank you for keeping the conversation alive with insightfull ideas, for it is quite a complex topic and I am eagerly awaiting more words of wisdom to contemplate. :smile:
'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
http://evinnra-evinnra.blogspot.com
CarmelaBear
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Post by CarmelaBear » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Philosophy and psychology tend in the direction of speculation, which leaves me with more questions than answers. Religious faith, for example, just doesn't satisfy my need to know.

The study of consciousness delves into the areas of brain biology and quantum physics for a clue. The closest we get to a unifying theory of the big forces in nature (things and planets) with the world of the teeny-tiny (atoms and quarks) is the idea of string theory in physics. Unfortunately, as elegant as the math is, there are at least five sets of equations that lead to different conceptualizations of what is supposed to be the one big view of reality.

The upshot is that even science is left to speculate not only about how the real world operates as one big universe, but how our consciousness works.

If we have a strong need to feel immortal, then there are quite a few ways to create a make-believe reality and suspend disbelief through faith. Without such a psychological need, those who can tolerate uncertainty tend to be agnostics about the whole question, and bifurcate their worlds into left brain and right brain worlds.

In the logic centers of the brain, we inhabit a Treasure House of fairly reliable data. On the issue of the nature of consciousness, we just throw up our hands and say, "Don't know". In the artistic areas of the brain, we can lounge in the Speculation Room, eating and drinking our favorite morsels of faith, hope, and love.

In a foxhole, I live in the Speculation Room. In my bliss, I prefer the Treaure House.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: CarmelaBear on 2005-01-12 07:28 ]</font>
Helen
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Post by Helen » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Quoting Joe from 'The Power of Myth' page 188 talking to Bill Moyers

"The conquest of the fear of death is the recovery of life's joy. One can experience an unconditional affirmation of life only when one has accepted death, not as contrary to life but as an aspect of life. Life in its becoming is always shedding death, and on the point of death. The conquest of fear yields the courage of life. That is the cardinal initiation of every heroic adventure - fearlessness and achievement."

Snake be my totem
Teach me to die
To shed off the old
Like your skin; help me try
To allow death to happen
To let go; to end
For only by dying
Can new life begin


Endorphins from chocolate
Surge strong through my veins
I’ve been recluse,
No society for days
Reading and sleeping
And writing my poems
Meditation on myth
Chakra healing with gems

A death has proceeded
And allowed to continue
Sacrifice holy
To empty within me
The erroneous notion
A love unrequited
I await in the darkness
A new flame ignited


_________________
Helen

The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others.

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Helen on 2005-01-01 19:19 ]</font>
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bodhibliss
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-12-11 16:07, Ruiz wrote:
Your quotes are making me reflect on just what Joseph Campbell meant by the term "metaphysics."

Did he use the term as indicating the invisible world not seen by our senses? The mystery dimension behind the world of the senses. In other words meta-physics, what exists before or behind the visible world.

or

was he referring to metaphysics as the study of what is reality. Metaphysics in this sense is "not" the mystical dimension.
Metaphysics in this sense is really a branch of philosophy; philosophy being the fore-runner of science. Metaphysics, philosophy, and science present us with a picture of the universe.
I'm not sure i ever answered this question - i think i wandered off on a tangent, discussing mystic takes on scientific concepts ... so here's a passage from "Bios and Mythos," a selection in The Flight of the Wild Gander, where Campbell touches on the subject, expressing it so much better than i ever could:
A serious science of mythology must take its subject matter with due seriousness, survey the field as a whole, and have at least some conception of the prodigious range of functions that mythology has served in the course of history. It is dreamlike and, like dream, a spontaneous product of the psyche; like dream, revelatory of the psyche and hence of the whole nature and destiny of man; like dream - like life - enigmatic to the unintitiated ego; and, like dream, protective of that ego.

In the simplest human societies mythology is the text of the rites of passage; in the writings of the Hindu, Chinese, and Greek philosophers (as of all who have ever read them) mythology is the picture language of metaphysics. The first function is not violated by the second but extended; both harmoniously bind man, the growing animal, to his world, simulataneously in its visible and in its transcendent aspects.

Mythology is the womb of mankind's initiation to life and death.
... which brings us once more back to topic, and highlights the relationship between mythology and death.

blessed be
bodhibliss

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bodhi_Bliss on 2005-02-01 19:22 ]</font>
Robert G.
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Back again... I wanted to stop hammering away at this one issue and leave this thread open for others, but since it's had no posts for awhile now until Bodhi’s last post reminded me this thread was here.... there was one point that I'd like to reply to (ah, the need to get the last word, always present and always frustrated :smile: )

Bodhi_Bliss quoted my previous post
In other words, relationship 1 (a is to b – the metaphor: nonlocality) is like relationship 2 (c is to d – Bell’s Theorem). Then it is said nonlocality is like the doctrine of simultaneous arising or the net of gems or some other relationship (e is to f). This may be true, but doesn’t have anything to do with Bell’s Theorem or quantum physics.
a is to b AS c is to d
and
a is to b AS e is to f
Two separate assertions here.
Bodhi_Bliss then said
But that’s not the way metaphor or mathematics works. If the relationship of A is to B as C is to D, and that of C is to D as E is to F, then it follows that the relationship of A to B is as E to F – often expressed as follows: if A:B::C:D and C:D::E:F, then A:B::E:F.
Obviously there is a basic disagreement here, but I’ve had a hard time getting it down on paper in a nice clear way. However, there are a few points though which contribute to my difficulty with the idea of quantum physics as being relevant to metaphysics:

1) In my opinion, most people do not have the math to actually assert anything about quantum physics, but instead use the verbal metaphors that are shorthand for the math to assert things about metaphysics.
2) A:B::C:D and C:D::E:F, then A:B::E:F is not true of all relationships. Many relationships are not transitive.
3) Campbell said that a religious symbol has one leg in the known and one in the unknown. Bearing my first point in mind, it seems to me that for most people quantum physics is an unknown, and using one unknown to point towards another is not that helpful.

With that said, I want to be clear that I know I am only speaking my own opinion. I do not find these types of analogies valid or particularly helpful. I know that others do, and that’s great. I’ve made a point of this only because it's my experience that many accept the validity of these comparisons without question, as a given, and I think that’s a problem.
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bodhibliss
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Post by bodhibliss » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2005-02-09 00:54, Robert G. wrote:
I’ve made a point of this only because it's my experience that many accept the validity of these comparisons without question, as a given, and I think that’s a problem.
This is a point on which we agree, Robert. I've met many people who tend towards fuzzy thinking when they express themselves on this subject, which tends to cloud more than it clarifies.

Though it seems like we sometimes disagree, i really appreciate the consistency and persistence with which you pursue clarity, Robert. Your questions and objections have often helped me clarify my own thinking - and then there are moments when i think we disagree, when we're not as far apart as it appears.

Also, i sometimes have the tendency to pontificate - but hope i don't come across saying there's only one way to view the question, and everyone has to accept my perspective. Generally the point i'm making is that not everyone is a fuzzy thinker just because they use the same vocabulary as "new age types" (i don't mean to tar new age thinker here, but am referring to common stereotypes), but that particularly in my own case much thought and reasoning and sifting of evidence goes into the positions i take

... which, alas, does not innoculate me from being wrong more often than i'd like ...

Thanks for revisiting the subject, Robert - maybe others are dying to discuss this topic

(pun intended)

namaste
bodhi
Robert G.
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks Bodhi, I really appreciate that. And I think that we are probably much more in agreement than someone reading our posts - here and in other threads! - would expect. I have to say I look forward to your posts for the enjoyment of the challenge they present for my thinking.

I lost another close friend this last week, to the same thing that took the life of my other friend earlier in this thread - Hepatitis C. This man was my AA sponsor, and died as a consequence of his behavior while under the influence, fifteen years after he stopped using.

I feel a diatribe against drug use coming on, I'd better go.
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Post by Molly J » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Don't stop now, folks. This thread has taken me on quite a ride. Each post making great points, then the next adding or subtracting to my feeling of agreement. One minute I was "at one" with the universe, then suddenly was thrown into individual reality, then was totally lost by the "if A=B then..." I dropped out of Intro to Philosophy for that very reason. I cannot add letters.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed. But Ruiz, I will not contemplate the carcass of that dead deer on the side of the road. The buzzards made quite a job of it. It's not easy to feel awe when the buzzards have been there. (Ruiz, the deer was totally gone today except for a skull and a couple of bones.)

_________________
Death has been in the forefront of my life lately. I'm on the "funeral" committee at my church (yeah, I'm still a member). We get the meal together for the family the day of the funeral. This week, we had two deaths of elderly people in the church. The mood was not jovial but not that somber, either. As someone said earlier, the older people are, the more accepting they are of death as another phase of life. Being in the middle years I see myself and others of a certain age having to "tote the load" for the funerary process that younger people cannot/don't want to face. (I'm really tired of making congealed salad, washing dishes and saying "We're glad to do it.") Not easy to see myself as part of the "middle aged" set but somebody has to do it, right?

I used to be terrified of the thought of dying, also panic stricken at the thought of personal annihalation to the point of psychological trauma similar to that described by some others. But as I get older, it has gotten easier, maybe through life experiences, or maturity or whatever. I still don't want to fade away, and at times want to get really mad at "whatever" about the whole thing. But mostly I am curious about the process. Not courting it, mind you, but can honestly say the terror and panic is gone. It's such an unalterable fact that we must learn to put it in the proper perspective and then don't dwell on it.

Have you noticed alot of music on the radio lately has been about life/death (Live like you were Dying,by Tim McGraw is a good one, but not the only one). Maybe it's a sympton of the baby boomers aging process.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Molly J on 2005-02-18 19:51 ]</font>
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