Saturday, November 1, 2008

What Happens When We Die: Part 1

What happens when we die?

It's an obvious enough question. It happens to each of us and to everyone we know, yet nobody really seems to know for sure.

So far nobody who crossed that boundary for more than a few moments has reported back. They say Jesus was dead for two days before he came back, but that was almost two thousand years ago and the only testimony we have was passed around a good bit before anyone wrote it down so basically what we have from Jesus just wouldn't stand up in court.

There are several schools of thought on this issue. The first and nominally the most logical is that nothing happens when we die. We wink out of existence like a cheap light bulb and our bodies are disposed of.

This philosophy depends on the idea that our consciousness is nothing more than the biological and electrical processes of the brain and once those processes break down, we cease to exist.

The proof of this comes from observation. If you cut off the head then death is almost immediate. So far nobody has been able to keep a head alive without a body or a body alive without a head.

I think a lot of people refuse to even consider this possibility because it's very discomforting. It's not themselves they're worriying about primarily, when it's your turn to go, there's pretty much no turning back, but we all have friends and loved ones who died and most of us would like to think they continue somehow, even in a way that's utterly beyond us.

You can't posit this as the final word on the matter yet though. We understand so little of how the brain really works. We know some tricks, for instance if you add certian chemicals it produces certian effects, but when it comes to the real basics of how ideas are formed and stored we just don't understand how it's done.

It may be that the brain isn't the repository for our conciousness, but rather a conduit between our real selves and this physical world.

Marcus Aurelius talks about the futility of life because there's such a huge spance of time before we're born and after we die and such a brief moment in-between when we're alive, but, what if the issue here really is time itself.

We exist in four dimensions: three of space and one of time. The demensions of space we move about pretty freely in. We can go forward and back or up and down at any speed we wish whenever we wish. Not so with time, we are a slave in time. In time we can only move from the past to the future and only at one speed.

But, it's only in time that we die. Six months ago, my mother was alive, sixteen years ago, my dad was alive, and sixty years ago, my great-grandfather was alive. It's only in the present that they are not alive.

If we were somehow freed of time, then everyone who ever lived would still be alive because all we have to do is move through time to the peroid where they were alive or they could move from the time when they were alive to times when they weren't. If we could move into the past or the future of our own will then we would effectivly live forever.

Perhaps that's what happens we die. Perhaps that moment of breaking between life and death is the moment where we become free of time and maybe the reason nobody ever reports back after death is because our perspective is so different once we are free of time that there is no way to communicate with those who are still its slave.

I'm convinced that we are still in just the earliest stages of our full development. In time, we will overcome these ideas of life and death.

There was a time when light and dark were absolute forces to us. During the day, we had light, but at night or in the shadows we had none and there was nothing we could do about it. Then we discovered fire, then mirrors, then electricity and more and now light and dark are a matter of choice to us. We can bring light to the darkest room or the longest night.

Perhaps it will be that way with life and death too. At the present we have no control over it, but perhaps, in time, we will come to a place where we can illuminate death as easily as turning on a lamp.

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