Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Being Nothing by Larro

We are born. We live. We develop a concept of self.

Through the ages the human mind has come to a bizarre concept of the soul. When I say soul I refer to the notion that our self will exist beyond our physical death. This is a wish or hopeful mindset to allay the notion that we will cease to exist altogether. To me our "self" exists only in our physical brains. The reality of an afterlife exists only in the living mind and its conception thereof.

We are nothing after death. We exist only in the memories of those who have come to know us. Our accomplishments in this one flash of existence will live on only in the minds of future generations, nothing more.

It's hard to reconcile this concept with the so many great things that life has to offer, but wouldn't the reality of non-existence make everything all that much more pertinent and meaningful? Music, art, poetry...love. Wouldn't these things have all that much more meaning and significance? If you think about it, the belief that one will survive after death is so self-serving and selfish. That all the joys of life are centered on one particular tenant: that we simply live to die; that death is the final solution to all our ills. That death will somehow bring a glorifying, revelatory realization of the meaning of existence. Isn't that a cop-out, lazy way out of realizing existence? It really hinges on belief and faith (which I have neither of...not in the "spiritual" anyway).

I have a personal belief that we human beings are strictly biological and that our minds and ability to think and form a concept of self are material. It doesn't go beyond that. Sure, it would be nice to think that we can evade death by "passing" through it, but our bodies ARE us. Once our bodies cease to be, WE cease to be. Our brains are an organ a part of our physical selves. We have devised a way to interact with our surroundings as to ensure our survival as a species. Our brain is a superb tool and physical organ that enables us to interact with our environment not very differently than any other species on this planet. Do dogs have a concept of afterlife? Do dolphins...elephants? Surely, we can't know this, yet I would wager that they do not. They simply "are". Like we humans "are".

Nothing special. Nothing particularly pertinent to the reality we find ourselves in. Does this sound fatalistic? Only if you think or believe it does. If you believe your life will enjoy some kind of eternal afterlife then I suppose everything I have said here could seem quite sad and depressing. It's not though. It's much more rewarding and motivating to consider those that go before you in life and pass to them the knowledge you have garnered. That is the "real" reward of being alive.

Recycled from: Being Nothing at Ungodly Cynic


tina FCD said...

Good post. I don't see living beyond our death as a plus. Where do we all live? Do we eat? Who do we see? It just seems ridiculous to think that we will still live after we die. Weird. I wish I was brought up being an atheist from the start,I would of cherished life so much more. I wish I would of been more aware of the impact that religion has on society, I may have been more involved in activism. :)

I really agree with your last paragraph!

BEAST said...

Great post.......but I was wondering if this would be perfect if you could end it with a infamous quote from Julius Caesar:

"Veni, Vidi, Vici." -I came, I saw, I conquered.


Anonymous said...

I'm someone who does believe in an afterlife of sorts, but it's rather different from what most people conceptualize.

Basically, I believe in a type of reincarnation where our "spiritual essence" (which isn't quite the same as what most people call a "soul") returns countless times. However, where I differ from the Eastern view of reincarnation is that this process is not something to be avoided or stopped, but is something to be embraced. I want my spiritual essence to keep returning indefinitely.

As such, I don't tend to fall into this dichotomy you're talking about, because even my understanding of the afterlife is ultimately about this life. It's meant to be cherished and enjoyed -- multiple times, even.

Of course, I also believe that I will only be "me" (Jarred Harris) for this one life time which on a personal level, makes this particular incarnation of utmost importance.

Not that I'm trying to convert you or anything. I just thought it might be fun to bring a slightly different perspective to the topic. ;)

tina FCD said...

Wow Jarred...Do you have any links that I could go to, to better understand this view?

Anonymous said...

Tina: Unfortunately, I don't. Sorry. But feel free to ask me probing questions here or in IM's. ;)

Teacher said...

Don't let the old knee get you down Beast. You, me and Pervert still have lots of fundy ass to kick.

BEAST said...

Thanks, Teacher.

I should be fine after that op. Will go for downgrading as well.


People Power Granny said...

Do you ever wonder what happens to you one minute past death? I wonder about this in my post tonight. Let me know what you think at peoplepowergranny.blogspot.com. And vote in my poll.

Interested said...

I think the after life is just that...when we die, after our life is over we continue to live in the memory of others. I have always believed that as long as one memory exists, one is not truly gone. However, that's as far as I go with it. This life, the only one I have has meaning if something I do or say provides someone with a positive memory.

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Cayden said...

Reincarnation? Can't be bothered.

I had people who claimed to be Buddhists tell me that they do good so they could enjoy in their next life.

A very stupid view, I must say. First, this view is not in consonance with Buddhism. Buddhism advocates the doing of good in order to alleviate the suffering of others as well as to plant 'good seeds' for enlightenment(Nirvana).

Second, it is morally shallow. Good deeds cannot be quantified by a supposed system of 'brownie points'. What if religious doctrines proclaim the reverse, that every good deed 'perpetuated' brings you a step closer to Hell?

I see no point in being obsessed with death and the afterlife (or successive next lives) when there is so much to strive for in this life.

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