Tag Archive | "death"

Nouthanasis: The Eternal Now


the birth of Another, the apathy of Otherness —

this altercation of the unconscious Self,

born of the irrational Yet:

the vague paradigm of Nothingness

 

as it unfolds, this phenomenon of alterity

embodied subjectivity of the ephemereal Doom

utterances coalesce with infinity;

impending Dread : anxious metanoia of Becoming

 

the All revolves, in this orbit of anamnesis

poignant reverie of what Was, and yet to Be

this-being-I, caught in the transitional flux ; between act and potency

the dynamic interpolation of mind and will; pervading Absence

 

— ,God; ? (It not is if what not is Be if what not is become of yet! )

 

I elude this context of  preconceptual knowing;

this frailty that succumbs to the Appearance

the unified multiplicity of understanding the Cogent:

derivatives of a preexistent Nous: language

 

and, as horizons, concrescence of reaching the Beyond

dissolution in the complexity of the Cogent, the face of its pull

all understanding converges in the evolution of mind

ideas converge in the Becoming;

 

but, not shall it Be for Yet it not is, what is yet not to Be

is not Shall, in the Be of the end and all of what is Yet —

to cry in the miscontextual co-promise; this Belonging

a failure of the messianic, redemptive fulfilment of what is bound to Become,

 

but is not Yet, 

— as faith dies, only to be reborn in the ashes of reason.

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Secularism and Physics on Death and Immortality


The premise: a problem

It has been said over and over again, as a defense or even as a backlash, by religious men and women that religion has a curative and comforting utility to humankind like no other. It has also been said over and over again by secular people and rationalists that however comforting some belief or idea is, it nevertheless adds nothing to the truth value of the belief or idea. That secularism offers nothing more than a skinny comfort blanket amidst the cold and pouring rain at best. That may well be true, and indeed it leads me to believe that it all boils down to what we really want: happiness or the truth. Happiness may not necessarily be true or what’s really happening, and having the truth may not necessarily make one happy. This conflict reminds me of the doggedly proverbial “The truth hurts” and The X-Files’ “The truth is out there”. This conflict also reminds me of the struggle in the movie The Matrix, wherein to know the truth, one has to be ‘removed’ from the confines of the complacency brought about by the virtual reality of the machines who have taken over. Once one has learned the truth, which involves living as a fugitive or freedom fighter wearing mostly ragged clothing near the center of the Earth, one is left to wonder if it would have been better to have stayed in the fantasy reality, even though it’s all make-believe. I guess it wouldn’t be so surprising considering the fact that human beings, like almost every other animal, are predisposed to follow what is certain to help in the continuation of its species. After all, speaking in ageological time scalehomo sapiens are but cells that have just fertilized, and are beginning to undergo cell division to form a larger animal.

The question

So then, if you will humor my ponderings, what could secularism possibly offer as an answer to one of the most profound questions we humans have asked since the dawn of our consciousness: What is death or what happens when we die? Do we survive death in some form or is there nothing after it?

Setting the mood

Quite a mouthful of questions, and ones that have plagued thinkers or philosophers for centuries upon centuries. But I think before I even begin to give my answer to those questions, a little ‘mood setter’ is in need. Some questions are too frank or too blunt in manner, which sometimes has the effect on the listener or the questioner of making one lose focus on the more relevant and apparent details. The mood setting quote is from the book Unweaving The Rainbow by prof.Richard Dawkins. It’s his reply to people who keep on ranting or complaining or fussing about their deaths. Everytime I read it, especially when I watched and heard prof. Dawkins read it with emotions in a talk at UC Berkeley, I cannot help but be moved by it’s message, wrapped around in romantic scientific prose:

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

And continuing this passage in his talk:

We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state, from which the vast majority have never stirred.

Makes one (or at least myself) wonder if we even have the right to feel anger or guilt or even sadness by our undeniable demise.

Physics on death

An episode of The X-Files has agent Mulder talking to agent Scully about starlight. He says that starlight as we see it here on Earth is already billions of years old, and has traveled unimaginable distances (light-years). Stars that are now long dead, but whose light is still traveling through time. Mulder continues that perhaps that’s where souls (our souls, after we die) reside. Today, we know from physicists that the premise is correct (that starlight is very old and still keeps on traveling), but we can’t be certain (or perhaps not at all) about the succeeding statement of Mulder (about souls). Scully, Mulder’s partner, continues Mulder’s statements by saying that the light doesn’t die, and that maybe that’s the only thing that never does. Speaking in a purely Einsteinian fashion when dealing with spirituality and such, perhaps our ’souls’ do reside in starlight, and in that sense our ’souls’ do continue on forever.

Mulder’s statement

Taking the first statement into consideration, that ’souls’ do reside in starlight, to be technical about it, we can probably say that it’s actually not starlight in our case but ‘planetlight’. We know that in order to see an object we have to shine light on it, after which the light bounces back, illuminating the object, back to our eyes. In the same sense, the Sun illuminates Earth at daytime, and at nighttime the Moon or our electrical/electronic devices light us up and our surroundings. In that sense light is shined on us, and so it is reflected back, which eventually reaches outer space and into the vast cosmos. In this way our ’souls’ which in this case means our whole lifetime under some source of light, is ‘framed’ in a ‘wave’ of light cruising the universe. If there are intelligent lifeforms out there in the universe and they can’t come here due to technological constraints (same as our case), once they try viewing our part of the universe, what they’ll be seeing is planetlight (which is reflected starlight, the star being our Sun or light from some other source) containing us, our lifetimes, and our history. What they’ll be seeing of course depends on many factors such as how far they are from us, how sensitive their viewing instruments are, what time they tried viewing us, among other things.

Scully’s statement

As for Scully’s statement, that starlight doesn’t die, technically speaking that can be true, since as long as photons don’t get smashed or absorbed, they keep on travelling in space, most likely till the edge of the universe and (our) time itself. However there is a limit to how long light can travel for one to be able to ‘reconstruct’ the data (in this case our ’souls’) it carries with it. This is because as light travels, similar to a wave, it spreads across time and space. As the light spreads, at some point in the universe very distant from the light source, it will be nearly to absolutely impossible to know what information that light brought with it. In a word, the light will be too ’stretched’ to make any sense out of it. This is similar to research being done on the Big bang. We are in an epoch of the universe where we can still study ‘cosmic background radiation’ (electromagnetic radiation, same as light) leading back to the Big bang. If we were a few millions of years late, we might not be able to analyze the data that comes along with the cosmic background radiation. And so Scully is partially correct since light can possibly not die, but the information in the light may become lost to us or someone viewing us.

Finally, physics on immortality

In essence, our ’souls’, most of our memories, achievements, feats, and other things in our light-stricken lives continue to propagate into inter-stellar space. The propagation duration many orders of magnitude longer than any of our lifetimes combined, which could be treated as practically infinity, and in some ways, immortality.

Originally posted last September 16, 2008 at f241vc15.wordpress.com.

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Where does the house go?


It’s been almost a week since millions of Filipinos celebrated the day of the dead, a good enough time as any to think about what you want done with your body when you’ve expired. I, for one, am reading up on organ donation in the Philippines. Besides being worm food, this seems to be the nearest thing to life after death.

lego

credit: XKCD.com

Registering for organ donation is actually easier than I thought; there’s only one thing you really need to do:

Tell your family.

If you’re married tell your wife, if you’re single tell your parents. Whether or not you’ve signed a donor card, your family will still have the last say on what happens to your body when you expire.

But a donor card does sound cool, so I’ve contacted the National Kidney and Transplant Institute and asked about whether we can make donor cards of our own. I haven’t gotten a reply yet, but an FF Organ Donor card doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

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I Just Want Him Safe


I call to you to keep him safe
Are you listening to me?
I want you watching him
Because I can’t
I’m just a helpless girl
Who doesn’t know a thing
About prayer
Well, I’m praying now
Desperately

I call to you to keep him safe
Are you listening to me?

Do I have the right to pray
So doubtfully like this?
There’s no one else to turn to
And I’m afraid
Please make him strong enough
To be alright
Please get him through the night
While I pray in half-belief
To the one he trusts completely

Do I have the right to pray
So doubtfully like this?

Allow me to pretend
To believe and trust you
That’s the best I could attempt
To fight the haunting thoughts
Of his body on the pavement
Lifeless, breathless, cold
Imagination unfolds
And I’m trembling
I’m afraid to lose him

Please allow me to pretend
To believe and trust you

Allow me to embrace
This flicker of faith
There’s this hollow feeling
Of not knowing
And I can’t find someone else to run to
So pardon me if I call you
I mean no disrespect
I’m just a helpless girl
Who’s so afraid

So allow me to embrace
This flicker of faith

I just want him safe.

(This poem was written in September 2003, when I was struggling with being an Agnostic. Photo was taken by me on one of my trips to Japan.)

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When Death Hangs Above Your Head


when-death-hangs-above-your-headWhile my “kuya” and me were watching the movie “Armageddon” (you know the Bruce Willis flick.), he asked me, “What if an atheist faces this situation, will that make him a believer?”

That question has made me think and write this article. If an atheist faces a situation that may endanger his life, will he become a believer? Okay, let’s make the scenario more credible. Suppose that the atheist have a terminal illness like cancer, will such situations bring him back to God?

A study shows that beliefs are designed by the brain to protect the body from physical and mental harm. (See: Why Bad Beliefs Don’t Die by Gregory W, Lester – SKEPTICAL INQUIRY Nov/Dec 2000) Belief is designed to augment and enhance the danger-identification function of the senses. Belief detects danger and improves the survival as humans entered “unfamiliar territory.” They act as internal maps.
If this is right, it will make believing in times of death reasonable by biological standards. So it might not be a surprise if “any” atheists recant on their deathbed. But that makes belief only a “placebo medicine,” to elevate the feeling of lost and despair.

People are scared of death because they want to live more. The body reacts as if it wants to have what believers always hoped for, “an eternal life:” That’s why allot of religion have always been cashing in, telling adherents the means to escape the inescapable. Immortality is not really a promise, but a bribe.

It’s easy for a person to fall to such assurance; the brain is responsible for that. It is your brain that’s talking. We are talking here about death, the eradication of your existence. Unquestionably your body does not like that to happen. So here you are clinging to that very dear life of yours. Believing on anything that may prolong it, maybe even to live forever.

How will you face death if there is nothing more into it? Many believers wonder how an atheist faces death. It may be quite strange for a fact that an atheist is not afraid of it. An atheist friend of mine once said, if he dies, then thanks that he can now rest in peace. Resting in peace is a better end that to sing hallelujah for all eternity to a grumpy god in heaven.

For the atheistic Buddhist, life is just a wheel. Hmmmmmm…you are just re-live everything again. Well, how about if life is just a non-ending repetition of events, just like one episode on the Twilight Zone. It’s sometimes fun to assume the unknown.

The best way I prefer is to face it as a fact. Death is a part of life; everything that lives will eventually face it. Even atheists.
Photo from takomabibelot / CC BY 2.0

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