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February 10, 2006

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I think I know what you mean... I've had experiences like this every now and then, basically my whole life. As a kid I had problems sleeping because of this, and then paralyzed by the though of non-existance I would wake my sleeping parents up to have them comfort me. Most of the time we refer to death as something abstract, as a noun, and that never gets too disturbing really. It's different when you look at it as a process that sort of continues even after we've died physically... And so as a kid I used to ponder on how long I would continue to be dead, realizing that it wouldn't be only for a year, not only two years, but more like a million years and more; for all eternity. It's like seeing yourself free falling through time without anything to hold on to. Unsettling, to say the least.

Brian,
May I suggest reading Bernadette Roberts.

http://www.firedocs.com/carey/roberts.html

She outlines this journey beyond the self as a three-stage trip, and maintains that the standard Christian contemplative literature only describes the first stage, known in the mystic trade as the unitive state, (which in her case lasted some 20 years). In this state, one apprehends God as residing in the centre of being, even during those periods of spiritual sterility, usually called "the Dark Night of the Spirit." Roberts contends, from her own experience, that there are two more stages after this unitive state. The first of these other stages is a period she describes as "the Passageway", which is characterised by "the falling away of the self and a coming upon of 'that' which remains when it is gone." (5)

It was a time of utter terror for her as the self fell away: "Now I cannot convey what it is like to stare at some invisible horror when you don't know what it is. Just knowing what it is may be all the defense you need; but when you've gone through your list of name-calling and it does no good, you just have to resign yourself to not knowing and face it anyway. This thing I had to stare down was simply a composite of every connotation we have of 'terror,' 'dread,' 'fear,' 'insanity,' and things of this order." (6) She gradually realised that "it was now obvious that fear - the mother of all inventions - was the core around which the self was built and upon which its life so depended that self and fear were here, all but indistinguishable." (7) The Passageway, then, was a time after this encounter during which she just coped with the loss of self.

Roberts remarks that "This journey [through the Passageway], then, is nothing more, yet nothing less than a period of acclimating to a new way of seeing, a time of transition and revelation as it gradually comes upon 'that' which remains when there is no self. This is not a journey for those who expect love and bliss, rather, it is for the hardy who have been tried in fire and have come to rest in a tough, immovable trust in 'that' which lies beyond the known, beyond the self, beyond union, and even beyond love and trust itself." (8)

The final stage in Roberts' journey began when she finally came to terms "with the nothingness and emptiness of existence which, for me, seemed to be the equivalent of living out my life without God - or any such substitute. Only when this came about, only when the acclimation to a life without an ultimate reality was complete; when there was no hope, no trust remaining; only when I had finally to accept what is, did I suddenly realise that what is, is truth itself, and all that Is. I had to discover it was only when every single, subtle, experience and idea - conscious and unconscious - has come to an end, a complete end, that it is possible for the Truth to reveal itself." (9)

I know what you are describing. When I first thought about not existing it was indeed, as you describe, a primal fear. Then, this fear yielded to curiosity. What does it mean that this "I" will no longer exist? It is something to think about and I do try to touch this question often. Why? I'm not sure, but it sees that asking and wondering about "not being" is just as important somehow as breathing and thinking. It seems like the compliment to life. Thinking about this always makes me appreciate every moment of my life.

Sometimes though the fear of "not being" takes over and I long for the times when I was a satsangi and had faith that my master was in control, and the thought of "non existance" never was considered. But that only lasts for so long, because I find that as long as I think I need the intervention of someone more perfect and stronger that I, then I am somehow lessened, and it is like my world goes a bit gray and the beauty of this creation dims. (Not sure I can really describe this well...)

I now think about my dying as a process of disolving. All the elements that make up "me" now will one day disperse and will become parts of everything else. I may be part of the rain that makes a flower grow. I may be part of that flower. Parts of me may be part of others yet to be born. When I think about this I am in awe, because when I think of all the parts of me...all the atoms, all the elements, all the air, and so forth, I come to a great realization that "I" am really ONE with all. I finally have begun to understand the "wave" and the "ocean" metaphor.

I apologize if I have rambled on about this, but this is not a topic that I find too many other willing to talk about.

Thank you.

Hi Brian,

I saw you and your wife speak at Healing Springs in Ashland - a clue to my philosophy ;)))

As a therapist, I just want to add that the high proportion of negative content NDEs is underaccentuated and reported among New Agers, who like to give the impression it's all about the Light and good feelings. Great for the ones it is warm and fuzzy for, but not all.

Neurotheology research is beginning to teach us the brain mechanisms involved with right and left amygdala activation...A source of angelic or demonic imagery, along with temporal lobe transients. Certain parts of the brain turn off when the void is experienced, which is not to reduce it to that alone. Then, there are voids and Voids - the lesser void is one of great alienation, difficult to navigate without spiritual support.

In my youth two people close to me drank juiced poison hemlock wrongly believing it was a marijuana analog - they wound up toe tagged, but woke up after a terrifying experience that haunted them both for life.

Even bliss, however, can be a block to looking or venturing further into the the depths of the Great Unknown. If the Abyss smiles back, it is pure luck. Fortunate are those who have a companion or guide for their journey.

Iona

My experience was similar but I came at it from the opposite direction.

I was eleven years old and I was contemplating eternity. Such a horrible fear welled up in me. How could anyone stand to live forever and ever and ever? To go on and on and on without end would eventually lead to madness, wouldn't it?

Right then and there Heaven and Hell become equal to me. Regardless of what happened in either place eventually you would have to deal with the issue of continuing to exist.

What do you DO after a few million years of harp playing? For that matter you'd probably get used to the flames and torture too.
The true horror and torture in my mind at the time was running out of things to do... eternal boredom... existing for the sake of existing.

It was then that I did an unconscious 180% and looked straight into 'Not-being'.. It was even scarier to me.

How could one 'NOT-BE' after having 'BEEN'? It would be MUCH, MUCH better to have never been at all...then to NOT BE after having been. And that's a selfish thought. lol

Iv had a very similar experience, an experience that is definatly the most horrifying one I can ever imagine, Iv always been a deep thinker and one evening i guess everything had combined itself into this intense realization.An overwhelming sense of "nothingness"took complete controll of my mind I felt as though existence had no pupouse or real meaning I felt undescribably alone and this threat of being torn from my life and into this empty helplessness sent me into screaming histarics(litterally)in this nothingness i felt no connection to the sence i instinctivly had found in reality it was gone and i was left feeling that everything i thought was futile like there was no place for anything and any reassurance was impossible,this really is undescribable.Now I am obsessivly afraid to die because of the dread that I may spend eternity in this state.I wish there was a reason for this that maby i have some issues with control or abandonment but the fear is definatly more powerful than the hope since iv actually experienced what it's like. I feel like i see what reality really is and its really scarey and if i had one wish i wish that im wrong. in so many ways this seems "crazy" but in other ways it seems intensly sane.the question i ask myself is:

if we are here to live life and experience emotions and survive then why, all of a sudden be placed in yhis nothingness where none of that is possible?how does this make sense?


and, why do people who have had near death experiences report such good things, that they saw god and experienced true understandings and calmness.


and lastly why have i experienced this nothingness!!????

I have tried to contemplate eternity in several ways. One easy way to do it is to go out in a clear night sky where it is dark and feel your nothingness in comparison to the universe.

Another way is to empty your mind of all concepts and desires and to try and achieve a state of stillness. This is actually a meditative technique common to Christian monasticism (especially the Desert tradition) and also Buddhism. Another way is to close your eyes and contemplate the blackness inside, looking within.

Another way to contemplate nothingness is to contemplate on the state of your existence before birth, or during an anesthetic operation. (Meister Eckhart encourages you to meditate on your existence before birth to gain insight into God's beingless Being).

There is also the dark night of the soul, a painful purgative experience described by John of the Cross.

I've found the most painful experiences of nothingness are losing someone you love. Whether they leave you or are removed by some other cause, this form of nothingness is certainly deeply stressing and painful. Probably the reason is attachment to a particular object, and losing an object of your affection causes great pain depending on the attachment.

However sometimes contemplating the void for me has been a positive experience, especially after studying mysticism. I think a major problem is in Western thought we are conditioned to think of evil as an abscence of Being. We associate good with Being. This comes from Plato and Aristotle and Greek Philosophy in general, and while in my view very positive in some ways, it distorts our view of existence because nothingness is also turning out to be very important to many new scientific views of the universe and also increasingly in religion and philosophy.

To die or to experience nothingness is not evil, it is a natural part of our human existence and condition. Nothingness is also a central reality in our universe, from which all particles come into existence and then dissapear back. The universe itself according to big bang cosmology, emerged from nothing. Physical scientists have been re-examining the void and space and emptiness are far more interesting and dynamic than were thought to be (as general relativity and quantum mechanics show).

We also need a philosophical and a religious re-appraisal of nothingness in our Western tradition and I think Eastern thought, which contains a very rich metaphysics of the void and of emptiness, will help us deal a lot better with things and aspects of our being which are not unnatural or intrinsically evil but simply as given as birth and life. There is something unhealthy in my view with our obsession in the West with trying to avoid death and suffering as if they are the worst evils in existence, rather than accepting them with calm and peace through our lives.

Someone please respond.

I was diagnosed with OCD 11 years ago. I've just recently started to realize that all of my fears and obsessions come from an underlying discomfort in the fact that I DO exist and I do not know the 'whys.' It makes me feel as if I could cease to exist at any moment...

It's my inability to comprehend something coming from nothing.

I love my life and I long for a time when I can look at life through the eyes of peace and excitement.

I'm scared, honestly.

- Brad

Brad, my friend, we share a fear of death. You're not crazy. You sound wonderfully sane. You're simply looking at life openly and clearly. That's great. Congratulations.

I've written some about death and overcoming the fear of it on this here blog. See:
http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/deathrebirth/index.html

If you haven't already, take a look at the Body Worlds post, second from the top. It's not the whole answer (what could be?), but the philosophical quotes in there intuitively speak to me.

You want to enjoy life. So do I. So do we all. To be afraid of not living while we're still living -- that's like worrying that you'll be hungry after you've just eaten a wonderful meal.

One thing at a time. And the best thing about death is that if we really don't exist after we die, there's nobody around to know that!

Whereas, when my stomach is empty, I do know it, and can contrast my hunger with a previous fullness. However death can never be experienced. So in that sense it isn't real.

Rather, when it's real it doesn't matter to us, since we're gone.

Regarding why there's something rather than nothing, it's sort of the same thing. You and I are something. If there was nothing, we wouldn't be wondering about being something.

I used to spend a lot of time pondering the "why is there something instead of nothing?" question. Now I'm pretty much convinced that the question is meaningless, a product of human logic and anthropomorphism.

"Why" is for brains that ask why. Likely it has nothing to do with nature, with reality. That just is. End (and beginning) of story.

Jump into life. Drink it to the last drop. Live every moment as happily and fully as you can. I suspect that if we try to do this, at the end we'll die peacefully. Maybe even with a smile.

Brad, if you need add to Brian's approach, there is The Linden Method.

I look at it this way, just think of it as it was BEFORE you were born. Thousands of years passed -- people were born, grew up, had babies, got old and died. Thousands more years passed and it was only 1600. You and I weren't around and we didn't know it. Then, one day, you realized that YOU were alive. But, I know what you mean about "the return to nothingness." It's scary. If only we had a garuantee that we'd come back one day, even if it was as another person. Life is so wonderful. Everytime I sit down to a fantastic meal, I'm overjoyed that I can enjoy it. When I see an amazine sunset, I take it all in. Often, I think of my friends and family that are no longer here and I gaze at myself in the mirror and say, "I'm here...I'm still alive! Maybe, just maybe, I'll live forever..."

I've told my loved ones, that before I die, I want an incredibly cold glass of water, with plenty of ice. To me, that is the best feeling one can have...ice cold water flowing through your body.

A plate of bar b que "ain't" bad or a thick butterscotch malt with a hamburger with all the trimmings isn't anything to take lightly.

Boy, do I miss my friends. They were sooooo wonderful. Sometimes I look at a chair that they once sat in or a bed they've lain on, but now, they are gone. It's a very sad feeling.

That's probably where religion comes in. People need it to reassure them that there really is something planned for us after we've gone. It softens the fear of death, because after we go, we'll see mom, dad, our friends and relatives again...

It would be nice...but the inevitability of returning to "nothingness" and non-existence always looms in the back of our minds...

This site has been really inciteful with much of the questions my mind constantly relays upon me. The thing is i am relatively young in my teenage years so have percieved life (or rather death and non-existing) in two different perspectives. When i was younger i didnt fear it, i felt that just by being me i always would be me even if i died i would simply be me in a new life somewhere just with a knew knowledge of who I am. It gave me comfort whether i knew it or not at the time, so i believed it.
Then during a smoking session this past year i went on too much of a 'trip' i would say. A typical pot smoker thinking too far back with the question 'why?' on my mind. It kept on going until i realised something, there was no why. It was like hitting a brick wall for me. At that time paranoia took over, i thought i was seeing death in whatever deptiction it was. Anyways yeah it freaked me out even though i didn really comprehend what had just happened. I had tears in my eyes and actually fainted at one point cause my mind was so trapped in the concept of nothingness. Then i thought about those types of people who never come out of 'trips' and wondered if it was because of this reason. Not good. That only freaked me out more.
To cut a long story short - cause this is a really long story for me. I have never been the same since that point, i stopped smokin pot, although i have tried a few times since. Unfortunately each time led me back into the same thought pattern, each time it gets worse and more absurd - ie placing the universe and time with a lifespan etc, etc. But i guess its just a question everyone has to deal with in some way; "why?" I think i'm learning to cope, not always but most of the time. And if ur thinkin man this guy is messed up i can tell u that if u met me im one of the last people u would expect to be in posession of such thoughts.
Anyways, yeah, im glad i expressed some of the feelings that make me feel like i am a bit messsed up. Whoever said it above was right, not everyone wants to hear this type of crap. So to be able to say this and see others discussing similar topics, it holds for me relief that i can accept in whatever small way.

Hey Sheve,

I can relate to what you have said.

When I was a teenager, I smoked a lot of pot. Basically, I was in a cloud of smoke for several years. One time, while very stoned, I perceived life in a way that caused a complete change in my mental structure. A fear set in that lasted for a long time and influenced my behavior at a critical time in my life.

To generalize, I have found that there are two types of people who react to cannibis differently. One, "externalizes" the effects of the drug. They find pot relaxing and it gives them a quirky perspective they find entertaining and amusing. This effect is superficial and does not effect them profoundly in a life-changing way, at least in the short term.

The second group "internalizes" the effect, making them introspective in a very intense way. Through this they may gain insight that is helpful, but this increased introspection is dangerous and can lead to paranoia. They become overly sensitized and self-conscious in a way that is weakening and destructive to their sense of well-being. This effect and be sudden and insidious in the long term. Beware!

I am sure you are in the second group, and you are wise to avoid the drug. It will only serve to exacerbate the negative effects you have already experienced. I advise you to associate with people who don't use it. This is very important for the long-term quality of your life.

The realization you had, however, that there is no "why" and all is nothingness is valid in the sense that you were perceiving the untruth and illusion of the individual ego. This can be terrifying and this fear can override or prevent you from settling into the realization. In the uncontrolled mental state induced by cannibis, you were unable to relax with this feeling and see that in the loss of your individual self, what remained was what you really are. You may have been able to see that in the absence of self, is the presence of what really is. You may have seen that this 'void' is empty only in the sense that 'you' are not there but that whatever appears is 'you'...rather than our usual sense of: "I" exist and everything else is external to that, but not "me". There are philosophies and traditions that can help you understand what you perceived. This will help you to settle down and regain some peace of mind. I suggest you study them without the assistance of psychotropic substances.

Suggested reading:

If you are intellectual, read well, and don't mind a bit of wordiness, Try, "The Book,(on the taboo against knowing who you really are)." by Alan Watts.

On the lighter side is "The Upside Down Circle" by Zen Master Gilbert

Another one: "Awakening to the Dream" by Leo Hartong

There are many many good writings, both ancient and modern. These just popped into mind.

Best wishes


This has become a recent anxiety for me, and one that I am having a lot of trouble dealing with.

The idea of not retaining myself -- my identity -- really bothers me (and obviously many others). I try to remind myself that there was a (long) period of time in which I did not exist, or at least I did not know that I existed, so it will be okay if I return to this state... but I can never quite convince myself of it.

This train of thought has led me to the fear of what I call "losing time." I feel like every instant I am losing more and more time... time that I can never get back. So often it seems as if time is moving slowly, but then I realize that one day I will be old and I will look back and wonder where my life went.

I yearn for the epiphony so many of my friends seem to have had: some moment where they had an experience that comforted them into the belief of existence after death. Either a near-death experience or the 'touch' of a dead loved-one.

I simply don't know where to look for comfort. I do not think that I can cope with the idea of one day Not Existing. I want to retain my identity... even after death. I feel that I can face death if only I am certain that there is more for me to experience. My only hope is that over the course of my life I will find something to convince me of an "after life" - something that will wash away this horrible terror.

I can relate to many of the fears expressed above. My primal fear comes up when I imagine existing in some form or another for all of eternity. The endless forward arrow for all time brings up a dread that I have never feel regarding other issues. My wife tried to comfort me by telling me to imagine time more like a spiral staircase, constantly weaving upwards, and I have argued with myself by telling me that such a fear is generated by an ego that understands, falsely, time as linear. But such arguments do not usually overcome the momentary sting of fear.

What is soothing is to take my attention into my body and feel that right now I am vibrating with energy. And then to analyze my mind and realize that whatever my conscious self is at the moment is based on my personal history, and that this conscious self, with all of its experiences is playing itself out in this field of vibration I can feel in my body, and that it is this field of vibration, which is closer to the real me, that is more lasting than my thoughts and constantly changing "personal identity."

Komposer wrote: "My primal fear comes up when I imagine existing in some form or another for all of eternity."

--What we really are has no form. Many, deemed wise, have said it before me.

"...this conscious self, with all of its experiences is playing itself out in this field of vibration I can feel in my body, and that it is this field of vibration, which is closer to the real me,.."

--No conscious 'self', just conscious. Some like to call IT the Self, but that implies a 'self' and when there is a 'self' there is 'other' to know it, to objectify it, and thus there would be duality and not ONE.


Dear Adgee,

I think there are very few people who do not at sometime face their mortality and the fear of eternal non-existnce. For some, this realization is terrifying. People mask this fear with religion, metaphysics, work, sex, their legacy, acomplishments, family, friends, alcohol, and the list goes on.

I think it was Freud who thought the libido was the motivating force behind our actions, but I think fear of death is more commonly the great motivator. No doubt if we thought we would never die we would go about life differently..."Oh, I think I'll party and get stoned for a few millenia, then maybe I'll get around to going to college".

Think of this. If you are going to be nothing for eternity after you die, you must have been nothing for eternity before you were born. How could your moment to exist have ever arrived if you didn't exist for eternity before that? How does eternal nothing become something for awile and then eternal nothing again? Either there is eternally nothing, or eternally something.

Since our ISNESS is, it would follow by the logic above that we must eternally be. But what is that eternal being or something?

This something is no-THING, but not nothing. You see, what you really are is THIS awareness now. Not the content of awareness, but the awareness which IS appearance, which IS the universe. Your body, your thoughts, your perceptions, all conceptual sequentiality, all pass as the functioning of THIS awareness. But THIS awareness is no thing in itself. THIS has no form, color or name. THIS is unborn, undying, unknowable and timeless. THIS is what you were before you were born and what you will be after death. THIS is here now and can never be anyplace else.

With the dissolution of the body is the dissolution of apppearance, the universe, but THIS always is.

THIS is the primordial luminous 'Void' spoken of by sages since time immemorial. At death THIS will remain and what THIS will do is anybody's guess. Maybe a new universe will appear and THIS is sure to be there.


Tucson,

Thank you for your response. I try to take comfort in these ideas: if I exist now, I must always exist. However, I have not found a way to convince myself. I have, for a long time now, claimed agnosticism, and I think this is the great problem. I see nothing but infinite possibilities, and many of these frighten me. There is the possibility of a life after death, and this is the one I prefer. To believe that I will retain some semse of Adgee-ness (I have no better term) would be true contentment. However, I know of far too many other choices: reincarnation (in which I lose my current self in order to become a new self), non-existence, or some other outcome that I have no name and no imagination for. I want to believe in something -- any ONE thing -- so that I can get on with my life without these worries... Truthfully, it has gotten to the point where it does not matter if this belief is Truth or not... as long as I, personally, can believe it is Truth. I want that same bandage so many others have found so that I can cope with the idea of eventual death.

For Adgee --

This will likely help and bring the clarity and resolution that you desire:

http://www.sagewisdom.org/groundzero.html

http://www.sagewisdom.org/thinkingclearly.html

http://www.sagewisdom.org/experiencess3.html

http://www.sagewisdom.org/experiencehome.html


Experiences Index: http://www.sagewisdom.org/experiences.html

Main Home: http://www.sagewisdom.org

Note: You must be sure to research thoroughly and become well informed and educated via this site before proceeding.


Dear Adgee,

Komposer said: "..whatever my conscious self is at the moment is based on my personal history,.."

--What we think we are is just an assemblege of memories, ideas, bodily sensations, feelings, mnemonic impressions and concepts which form a personal history that we take as an identity. But not one of these is what we are. They are just passing, ever-changing phenomena.

Indian sages Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta often recommended self inquiry: Who Am I? This meant to strip away the ideas, sensations and memories like layers of an onion until you get to the core of what you really are. What you find when all these conceptual layers are stripped away is not a solid core, but space, boundless space, infinite and ever present, substantive without substance, effulgent.

This is what you really are now, and now is always.

Let your fear fall away as one of these layers. Just take a deep breath and let fear float away and just be, pure and simple as you are. See the embodiment of fear just fly away like a bird down a canyon gradually disappearing. Relax in the peacefulness of Presence. Keep breathing slowly, deeply into right now.

Once, I took a psychotropic substance. As the full effect of the drug hit me "I" began to break apart. All the thoughts that composed "me" lost their cohesiveness and broke into a thousand pieces swirling in consciousness. Panic set in as I lost control of the assembledge point for these thoughts as they spun away, out of control. I fought to maintain this assemblege point I thought was me. Finally, the panic itself spun away like foreign debris and I "emptied" into a peacefulness I can't describe. There was presence but no identity experiencing it. There was no structure or boundary to what remained. Objects and people were no longer separate or other from what remained. What remained was part and parcel of those objects and people. I only knew myself as what appeared as that, but as what I was, I wasn't.
I was, but there was no me. Words fail here. It is an intuition, not a thought process.

One could think this was a drug induced hallucination, but all it did was take me out of my habitual way of perception. I saw that I was conditioned to accept these things that spun away as a 'body' that I thought was me. A self-imposed body that trapped the beneficence that now radiated to/in/from all things. I was the moon and the stars, and the barking dog next door, but 'I' was no more. I was free because I saw there was no one present to be otherwise.

This was dying while living and all that dying is, the dissolution of a temporary structure into radiant vastness full of wonder.

Tucson,
You say that you had this experience under drug influence. But has the experience repeated itself under sober conditions. Or in other words, have you ever experienced the feeling of "nothingness and everythingness" in your sober state. R u really nothing? Or is it just another advaita lecture. I am from South India - the focal point of dwaita-adwaita debate. I know a number of brahmins who parrot advaitc lines without knowing anything. I hope u r not one.

Dear Tucson [Bob, I still presume],

Haven't any of your intuitions ever been wrong?

Robert Paul Howard

Ego illusion, ego, ego, ego. Warning! If there is a sense of fear, there is only one source.

I may or may not have experienced non-existence, but of course, who would know/have known?

When I was afraid of not existing? All Ego, baby. As I have said before, your ego is your friend, just don't be fooled: I and I don't have to be driving the bus.

Ja love.

Deepak,

I haven't taken psychotropic drugs for the better part of four decades. I try to describe or discuss what I actually experience which is often difficult to put into words. I could be a parrot, but it doesn't matter. Someone can be telling you the truth from first-hand experience, but how can you know it? If my words are helpful and ring true, great, but take what I say with skepticism. Everyone must see for themselves.

RPH,

These intuitions are not like gut feelings or psychic impressions you get from reading tarot cards. They are experiential, plain as day to me, so I am confident in them. I am less confident in the terminology I use. That is where I could choose the wrong words or be misunderstood. This probably happens a lot. The same set of words can be understood a certain way by one person and completely differently by another especially when dealing with abstract concepts.
T.B.

MESSAGE FROM WAYNE
****************************

Hello,

For those of us who remain so spiritually backward that time and space still exist for us, another year is drawing to a close. It is an opportunity to stop for a moment and reflect on the miracle that is this Livingness. Within the Livingness are the polaric opposites...birth and death, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, inhalation and exhalation...and it is the continuous movement between the polarities that is the EXPERIENCE of being alive. Some people believe that death is the end of the Living, when in fact death is simply the end of a particular experience within the Livingness. The Livingness continues even after a particular point of experience is extinguished.

When birth and death are known for what they are -- linked opposites within the Livingness -- much of the fear and drama drain out of the process.

Sometimes this Living Teaching facilitates an extraordinary insight:

What you TRULY are is not limited to a particular point of experience. What you TRULY are is the Livingness itself.

Happy New Year to ALL!

With much love,
Wayne

Wayne,
Beautifully stated. You made me feel uplifted reading your comment.
Happy new year to you (and everyone else) too.

To Wayne:

For those like YOU who "remain so spiritually backward" (as you said) that you have to rely on mere platitudes and posturing, another year has been wasted.

But don't dismay, for it is an opportunity to stop for a moment and reflect on how little you really know or understand.

For instance, you said: "Some people believe that death is the end of the Living, when in fact death is simply the end of a particular experience within the Livingness."

-- But you do NOT know that because you are not dead... yet. So don't speak with certainty and false authority when you have no such knowledge or proof. Example: You said "in fact death is simply the end of a particular experience". Be more honest and admit that you DO NOT know. Don't act as if you have the last word. By doing so, you only show what a fool you are.

You also said: "The Livingness continues even after a particular point of experience is extinguished."

-- That only applies when one is alive and conscious. You don't know anything beyond that. To assume that you do is ignorance and folly.

You said: "When birth and death are known for what they are -- linked opposites within the Livingness -- much of the fear and drama drain out of the process."

-- Sorry, but you simpy DO NOT KNOW what birth and death are. You do not know what anything is. So don't be so damn sure that you do.

You said: "Sometimes this Living Teaching facilitates an extraordinary insight"

-- And don't come here posing and pretending to be a teacher or a guru either. By doing so, you make a fool of yourself.

You said: "What you TRULY are is not limited to a particular point of experience. What you TRULY are is the Livingness itself."

-- That is nothing but empty words and ideas. The more you define as you have been doing, the less you "TRULY" understand. Guys like you are a dime a dozen. You think and presume that you know what it's all about... but the truth is, you don't. The sooner you understand that, the wiser and more spiritually mature you will be.

Happy NO Year.


tAo,
Here's what I liked about Wayne's comment.

--Within the Livingness are the polaric opposites...birth and death, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, inhalation and exhalation...and it is the continuous movement between the polarities that is the EXPERIENCE of being alive.

This is true in my subjective experience. A flow between emotions, sensations, feelings and perceptions characterizes my reality most of the time. What I believe Wayne is saying, is that when one accepts this flow as the experience of life, and doesn't always want to be having some other experience, life feels better.

--When birth and death are known for what they are -- linked opposites within the Livingness -- much of the fear and drama drain out of the process.

I am afraid of death at times, and I find Wayne's perspective allows me to look at things without so much emotional investment in a result. As in, "of course death is coming, what is born dies."

In short, you criticize Wayne for trying to define reality. I like Wayne's comments because they point towards an attitude to life that makes everything feel a little lighter. And what else are words good for? Since they can't contain the truth anyway, lightening things up seems to be a pretty good use for them...

Yes, as indicated by Tao's reaction, words can never approach or accurately convey the wholeness of truth to anyone's satisfaction. Although some at least appreciate an honest attempt. Perhaps it would be best to say nothing at all.

;)

Komposer,

I don't have any arguement with your point about "lighter", but I tend not to view arbitrary presumptions of reality as being helpful or positive. Much of religion is full of those kind of fantasies and myths presented as truth, and on the surface that kind of thing may appear to be "lighter" to some folks, but to others it is not at all illuminating but actually reinforcing nescience.

You said: "In short, you criticize Wayne for trying to define reality."

-- No, not really... it was not so much because he was "trying to define", but rather because he was presenting his ideas as if he KNOWS for certain, and that what (he thinks) that he knows is the way that it IS. It's not so much his ideas (which btw are not new or unique), but more the way that he presented them as being the truth.

----------------------------------

Wayne,

You said: "...words can never approach or accurately convey the wholeness of truth to anyone's satisfaction. Although some at least appreciate an honest attempt. Perhaps it would be best to say nothing at all."

It was not your "attempt" at conveying truth, but rather your presenting it as knowledge and certainty, and as THE truth. That's why I pointed out that unless you can prove it to the satisfaction of all, you do not really know anything is the truth. Do you not see that? All kinds of people claim all sorts of knowledge and say this or that is the truth, but that does not make it the truth. Do you understand that?


Tao,

Yes, I understand that. Everyone must awaken to truth for themselves. I can't prove truth to anyone or serve it up on a platter, but I am confident in the truth of what I said as far as my words can convey it. However, I admit that since words cannot possibly convey the absolute truth or totality of being, what I said was true only in a limited way. It would be like saying to someone who has never seen one, that a house has walls, a roof, windows and doors, but that would give them no clear vision of what the house actually looked like.

However, there are people who would like to know what a house looks like, so I try to tell them what it looks like to me. Still, that is no substitute for seeing it for themselves.

Once having seen the house, they may describe it differently. Instead of saying it has windows, doors, walls and a roof, they may say it has a floor, chimney, shutters, and a driveway. No one is wrong, but no one is absolutely complete in their description.

Wayne

You stated, "Everyone must awaken to truth for themselves."

How do you define, "awaken?" Is this something that everyone must do?

Thanks,
Roger

Roger,
By "awaken" I mean to recognise truth or one's true nature. By "must" I do not mean it in the imperative sense. It is just a manner of speaking as was the use of the word "everyone". No one must do anything.

Wayne

Wayne,

Thanks for your reply. You stated, "No one must do anything." Why the need to "awaken" to truth and one's true nature?

What is the motivation or need to Awaken? Is this "truth" the same for everyone? Does this "truth" change from person to person?

What is the difference between someone who has this awakening and someone who has not?

Thanks,
Roger

Roger,

For some reason my name is appearing as "posted by" after your posts. Maybe I'll sign this post as "Posted by: Roger" to add to the confusion!! Just for giggles and grins. Actually, what you have done serves to make my point better than most things I could say. You have provided the answer to your questions, perhaps intentionally?

The motivation to "awaken" is there because the ego wants to solve the mystery of life and death. However, there is no need to awaken or any real ego to do it. "True Nature" is always there anyway, so really there is no awakening. It is just a concept pointing to something non-conceptual. Some people are on this spiritual quest, always searching, and some of them appreciate this little reminder, but it doesn't matter. Everything is fine as it is. There is no difference between someone who has this awakening and one who does not. It is always present. Maybe "recognition" is a better term than "awakening"

Wayne


Wayne,

Thanks again for your reply. I must have inadvertantly typed your name when I was preparing my above comment.

You stated, "True Nature is there anyway."

How do you define, "True Nature?" Is this True Nature a product of ones Ego?
Is ones Ego the only thing one can use to recognize ones true nature?

Thanks again.
Roger


Roger,

No definition. Just this now and no ego to know it.

Wayne

do you need a reason to live ? only when you do not need a reason or purpose in your life for living then you can truly live. It is like being in aggreement with life and death at the same time knowing that you are but a piece of something as opposed to being the whole part of nothing. You cannot expect to live until you are no longer afraid of dying or exsisting. When these mean nothing to you then you are only left to live now today and to love all unconditionally

Iam relieved to find like minded intelligent people who have experienced this fear of non existance.

I always thought I was just afraid of death until i visited the Void one day and freaked out. I was driving at the time and the sudden realisation that after death was an eternity of non existance i lost the plot and had what can only be described as a panic attack!

I never knew my fear had a name and after discussing my fear with others, I didnt seem to be able to put it into words to convey the fear I had. On the surface everyone is afraid of dying. But I am not afraid to die. I am afraid of the not being. I couldnt comprehend that I would cease to be. I couldnt imagine not being me or having a conciousness. I tried to think about the fact that I didnt exist before I was born, but that wasnt right because before you exist you have existing to look forward to (so to speak LOL) but after you die you have nothing to "look forward to". Then I thought about the possibility of be concious as another person ie reincarnation and that made me sadder because I realised that I would exist but my parents and children would all be gone and I began to mourn for them (even though they are all alive still) so that was no comfort at all.

Then you start to think about your birth and conception. What if my mother had had a headache the night I was conceived? I would not exist now would i so then things in my head got really complicated thinking about unborn children and their conciousnesses and existances. About abortion and still born babies who existed before conciousness. Will they exist again? will I exist again?

I'm so confused. There are so many questions and no answers and no body I know seems to ever worry about or obsess about this like I do.

Thanks for this website, at least I know i am not alone in this fear and it has a name. Not that i thought i invented this fear but you know how lonly the fear of death etc is. The scariest part is knowing that is something you do alone and no matter who is with you when it happens, you litterally are alone in the profound sense of the word.

Laurianna,

You have definitely discovered and come to the right place! And we are glad that you are here with us. And I am sure your comment will start a most interesting discussion.

Yes, we are each alone, but we all face the same mystery. I have some unique insights to share with you which you probably have not considered yet, and so I will do so soon in a subsequent comment. I am sure others do too. Until then, despite your existential apprehensions, just enjoy the always ever-present moment of the wonderous happening of your unique life.


Dear Laurianna:

Here is a quote from the book "Creating consciousness"
http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Consciousness-Study-Creativity-Violence/dp/1883991390/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1203388319&sr=8-3

by Albert Low

The author writes on page 10 of the book
"During my life I had been prey to bouts of horror, moments when I felt as though I were being swallowed by a nothingness. These feelings started early in childhood and sometimes were more than I coul bear."

I could write here that may be you could read the book since, in part, it contextualizes your and his experiences. However, the book is about much more than that and a very though though read. The author was a businessman/manager for most of his life and now a Zen teacher in Montreal.

Regarding the advice from the previous post "just enjoy the always ever-present moment of the wonderous happening of your unique life." I would say go for it if you can!:) What the heck do I know!? I guess you have never thought about or heard it before! What an advice and revelation! So many wishes it but somehow very few seem to "enjoy the always ever-present moment of the wonderous happening of your unique life." ... The sweet nector of Oneness in the blink of an eye! So sweet ... so funny ... (disclaimer: I am being sarcastic about the previous post).

Isn't it just our very human habit of fearing our insignificance that is to blame for our terrifying existential crises? Once you realise that humans are only as significant as we believe them to be, you're free to live and die without any worries at all. We mean nothing; it all means nothing; and yet, strangely, we're here and it means everything.

I would suggest putting every ounce of what you have into trying to FEEL how a human being should feel, whatever that is. Find a good psychotherapist if necessary (there is such a thing as an existential therapist - and they don't sound at all crazy to me). Nature/the universe/reality will do the rest. We don't control anything, really. We're pissing in the wind - the entire history of humanity is as significant as an atom in an endless universe: hopelessly tiny and yet an essential part of something infinite.

Listen to life. You are a part of it. It wants you to live and then it will decide when and how you die, as all the billions of people and animals who've gone before you would testify if they were able to. You don't need to worry about time, death/the end of experience, or infinite life. Everything is as it should be. This is the only faith you need.


What Tim says above is fine as far as it goes, but recognizing one's insignificance is hardly a comfort if they are afraid of eternal non-existence. Such a person would say:

"OK, my life in the overall scheme of things means unimaginably less than one billionth of the tiniest grain of sand among all the grains of sand in a universe of trillions of sandy planets, but to me it is a big deal. I am alive and I don't want to die regardless of whatever plans the universe has and my utter helplessness in controlling that. True, there's nothing I can do about the inevitability of it, so it makes logical sense to not worry, be happy, and just BE HERE NOW, but that doesn't change the fact that I will not exist forever. This is a frightening realization, not to mention the immeasurably grim reality that if I live long enough, my health will deteriorate to the point where living is intolerable and the only alternative is the horrifying endless abyss of eternal non-existence."

Everybody all cheered-up now?

I'm 29 and I too was recently hit with this realization that will cease to be. Somehow I managed to live in a lovely imaginary reality for 29 years where what it meant to die never hit me.

I've been searching for wisdom and truth about this for weeks.

We should be thankful that we live when we do. Never before in human history have we had so much influence over nature as we do now. Advancements in medicine have extended our life expectancy from age 30 in 1800 to 78 today - that's an increase of 2.6 times in just 200 years. And now, we stand poised on the brink of amazing breakthroughs in stem cells, genetics, nanotechnology, which will very likely mean the end to most diseases and possibly the disease of aging itself.

So the truth that I've come away with here is that I have two options: 1) To lament, obsess, fear, and be miserable as I question the why I'm here, why I'm me, what happens after I die, whether or not anything I do even matters, etc, or 2) To live, to soak it all in, to eat right and exercise, and to be happy, while still not taking crazy unnecessary risks with my life. By choosing option 2, I lower my stress level and increase the odds that I will live long enough to benefit from the technological breakthroughs that may extend my life indefinitely and if not, then I might live long enough to see Cryonics (alcor.org) become a reliable, proven, mainstream means to live well into the future.

One thing I wanted to add: some philosopher once said that we should not fear nor contemplate that which we will never experience. When we die, we won't be around to experience it. We only know life. Time, for us, began when we were born and ends when we die. Nothing else matters. It doesn't matter that the universe will go on without us because to us, when we die, all time ends. That also means that to us, we are immortal, because we exist for all time since "all time" is defined as our lifespan.

Of course, the problem is that to us, time is sequential, and we can see death as the end point. That makes us fear it, because we see other people die and we can forecast it.

For some reason, I don't fear non-existance if suddenly the whole earth got sucked into a black hole. I could accept that, and I'm fine with it. "Oh well", I think to myself. For some reason, I'm more disturbed by thinking that I won't exist while others will exist, and that if I had been born 100-200 years later, I might have had a chance at living indefinitely, and that's what depresses me the most.

I was having this feeling 10 minutes ago, I get paralyzied, I can't move the utter thought of non exsistance is so powerfull I can't move and I even tear. I've tried countering this feeling with positive things, like my atoms will exsist and make something eles, or maybe there is a god, but all forms of comfort were destroyed 1 day while watching the history ch. They had a show about space, and that 1 day EVERYTHING regardless will be "ripped apart", it it called the "big rip" every atom partical destroyed. When I think of that I get over this fear but then think, how can something not exsist, then how CAN anything exsist? If god exsist, why? How was he created? Like how can he just be? Then its a cycle that lasts for the night until I fall asleep

It was a few years from now that my wife and myself were traveling by a manual rickshaw in India and my mobile phone slipped out of my pocket. I came to know of it quite late. Finally my phone was lost. It was quite costly during those days. My wife began to weep. I asked her as to why you were weeping for it. She replied that we had a facility and we will have it no more. I said it is absolutely correct.

Next moment, I told my wife to think of that moment of time when we have leave behind every damn thing that we possess and leave even our body. How painful would it be then? She wiped her tears and agreed.

I myself realized then possessiveness is a bane but it is human nature. I wonder how even God will react if He has to leave this world.


Tito et al,

Of course I have no final answers to the big questions for others. For myself, I know that what I really am is unborn and undying. I neither am nor am not. This is not something I can convey to anyone intellectually, It is just a "space" that I get into and I "see" it. Yes, this entity known here as "tucson" will evaporate, but as what I am, what really is, just is as it is in this eternal instant and this instant always is. If all there is is here..this, where could it go upon the evaporation of an appearance?

Think of this. If it is true that we will be eternally non-existent, then we must have been eternally non-existent prior to our birth. How could our moment to exist have ever arrived? How could what was never born die? It is all shifting appearance in NOW. THIS is always it.

I say this not because I expect anyone to "get it" or intellectually understand. No one will be satisfied just hearing this. I am just trying to stimulate your own natural seeing into the reality of this moment as being all there is or ever could be. It is so simple and obvious that it is overlooked and yet it is not an any sort of object that can be overlooked. Formless non-objectivity is not something caught or held on to, or even known or identified in any way. Yet, here it is (n't). The sea is always present as it is, but ripples and waves endlessly appear, shift and disappear upon its surface.

Hi I completely understand the overwhelming feeling that this "fear" brings to people. I have had bouts of it most of my life. It's a total completely paralysing realisation that if there is no afterlife we simply cease to exist. its not just the loss of the body thats the issue, its the loss of the consciousness. I can handle the loss of the physical as long as my conciousness continues to exist but what if it doesn't???? that's it dead end, full stop, all over. Everytime it hits me it's generally at night when i'm alert and mulling things over. I get an almighty adrenaline rush from the fear and then the contemplation begins, analysing the possiblities, sifting the logical from the illogical and arriving at no conclusion. This has been going on for years now, it has lessened recently as i have more in my life to focus on, baby daughter, however, it is still there lurking, like the reaper is at my shoulder waiting for my guard to drop! i'm glad i'm not the only one, it makes me feel less alone. I don't like discussing it with anyone not only because they may think i'm crazy but also to protect them because if they don't think this way i din't want to be the catalyst that causes them to think this way.

Nick, as you know, you're not crazy. You're just in touch with a fear that most people won't admit to, or repress.

We all have to come to grips with it in our own way. But for what it's worth, here's a passage from a book I'm reading, "The Dream Weaver."
-------------------
"Ever since I was born, I have been getting closer to death. So by definition I am dying. Right? There's really no way around it."

She nodded cautiously, almost as if she'd heard this before.

"Tell me, Ian. When you walk into a store an hour after they have opened, would you say they are closing?" She continued without my answering.

"Of course not. But if you walk in five minutes before closing time, and the shopkeeper is sweeping up the store, locking the back door, and organizing the shelves, you would say he's closing, right? It's much more a state of mind -- they're not closing until they start getting ready to close."

I nodded, grinning. She had done it. Solved the unsolvable, and in a very uplifting way.

"So, are you dying?" she asked.

I shook my head, smiling still. "Not until I decide I am."

Once in a while i start thinking about my life. Then the scariest thing ever happens when I realize my consciencesness and my ability to think will end. It seems like it will be a long time until I reach old age, but when i do it will fill like my life just started and then i will realize it is about to end. I've had panic attacks and started punching the walls just thinking that i'll lose my ability to be alive. It is impossible for me to imagine what it would be like to be dead and not be able to have a conscience mind.

*It is impossible for me to imagine what it would be like to be dead and not be able to have a conscience mind.*

I think the nearest I could imagine is that it would be like a dreamless sleep. I don't fear dreamless sleep.

I have this too, I'm only 15 and it scares the living daylights out of me.

I would just rather not be alone. I mean the end of conciousness is what fears me most but then eternal conciousness would be just as scary, don't you think?

Obviously there must be a higher being or we wouldn't be here at all. Something that never existed would never get the chance to exist, so either we do exist or we never did at all.
I go through this fear and worry every day of my life.

When I do die, I worry about the feeling of lonliness or not being with the ones I love. I would never want to forget then and I would always want my boyfriend there, right beside me.

Obviously I do not know what happens at death. But I have observed different states of mind while alive. I know the difference, for example, between feeling lonely and alone, and becoming aware of not having been aware of self. If I am absorbed in an activity (anything at all) or asleep without dreaming, there is no awareness of self. Fear only arises when the belief arises that there is a separate self that can be harmed or destroyed. But what is this self? It comes and it goes. Cannot it be real? Is there really anything to lose?

Thanks to some of your excellent descriptions, I am convinced that this is the same terrifying perception that I have confronted, off and on, since about the age of ten. Most of the time life seems to keep it at bay, particularly enjoyable events but when it has me - that moment of realisation - its absolutely overwhelming.

I desperately want to confront this is some way but, sitting here right now trying to conjure it, just doesn't work. Yet at another time it'll just find me, and terrorise me, when I'm not ready. I will continue to explore this curse of life and see if I can find some benefit from it.

Thank you for sharing your experiences.

I am 45 years old now and ever since I can remember have been obsessed with death. At roughly the age of 11 I started to experience the sheer,absolute horror and panics of non-existence. my life really went downhill when these attacks started and they became more frequent as I grew older. I found alcohol stopped them fo a while but as time went on I needed more and more alcohol to keep the attacks at bay, after many years alcohol didn't keep the attacks away and |I would still have them after huge amounts of alcohol. i ended up losing my job, losing my driving licence and verging on the suicidal. in desperation i went to my doctor but even then I couldn't bring myself to say what was really wrong, instead I claimed severe depression, I did not want to say the truth to the doctor as i was afraid he had never really thought about it and I didn't want to be responsible for him then going through the nightmare I was, anyway, he proscribed me seroxat(paroxetine, )this was approximately 15 years ago and I haven't had an attack since. I still faer death and non-existence but the seroxat seems to keep the all-encompassing fear, terror and panic attacks away. i definitely would not be around today if i had not been put on seroxat and I guess I'm really lucky they help as I wasn't honest with the doctor about what was wrong with me.

I genuinely thought i was the only person in the world who had these feeling as I never witnessed anyone else having the same attacks as I did.

thank you

Im only 14,and ever since i was 12 i've been getting a strange thing like this all the time and now since i've read this im glad im not going crazy or something and that others get this too.I've already accepted the possibility of non-existence and i dont worry anymore.It's like knowing that nothing really matters in the end when there is nothing after.Its made me more relaxed and care free and i hope to experience this for the rest of my life.If it wasn't for this i still would have been narrow minded and ignorant and i cant explain it all...there is more but im tired and im going to sleep now

Marcus, you seem to be wise beyond your years. Congratulations. You've already learned that life and death have to be faced directly, not peeked at out of the corner of our mental eye through the lens of religion or wishful thinking.

Keep on seeing reality as it is, and no doubt you're going to have a deeply satisfying life.

The angst of existensialism is spurned and kept ablaze by FEAR. One poster wrote how he worried and worried till he finally fell asleep. I will guess that in deep sleep states he experienced nothing more than the contented wholeness of that state.
There is a substratum or field if you wanna call it that that exists beyond the scope of time and space that our minds operate from, and unto which it fades into, as in deep states of sleep, perhaps death too, or in moments of absorbtion. This substrata or field I assume is the great nothingness for lack of a better word existing beyond the constructs or influence of time and thus beyond mental conception. You can never fathom it, but you are one with it,the beingness part of you which has nothing as its experiencer.
Your existential angst come from your natural need to know and have certainty, but understand that It is YOU pondering your projected nonexistence and freaking out,the same You who is calm in deep sleep.
The same you that always is but not always as the you that you know yourself to be.

Despite all I have written, I still occassionaly experience existential angst. Im learning through it currently that the distressed state of angst is noting but FEAR. and FEAR is not real. find what is real and unshakable within you and merge in it.

The mind could never fathom IT (The source). You didnt exist as mind till you were born into the space time continium . when you die or in deep sleep you go back into that void again, only that its not really a void as IT has no frame of reference for the mind. Religion and deity worship was not an invention out of a need for assuaging mans primal fears but rather out of the discovery by man of an intuitive or subconscious stratas beyond his mind where possibly time and space is distorted or doesnt exist as we know it in the conscious realm. Man in all cultures called this presence lurking in the shadow of the manifest GOD, or void or presence. The mind fully manifest in consciousness could never grasp this pure essence from which it self was fashioned just as a child could never be older than his parents if I could use that analogy. Science postulates that the universe of time and space possibly emanated from an unimaginable field which consumes it again and repeats the process over and over again. our mind is a product of time and hence can never grasp the concept of no time which spurned it.

Timelessness is a misnomar as you contemplate it, time passes. get it?.

The closest you will ever come to knowing timelessness is by attempting to kill time (mind). funny thing is that if you succeed there s no one to applaud you.

I know exactly what you mean.

I'm 19. It started a few months ago.

And in the past 4 days, I thought about it atleast once a day. It used to happen to me, only before I fell asleep. Now it happens randomaly during the day.

When it happens, I feel... like my brain cannot process that information, like it's shutting down...

And I simply can't accept that fate. I won't

I'm desperately looking for a shred of hope, a proof, that I will remain conscious after death.

My only hope, for now, is that no matter how corny, or far fetched a theory is, untill proven otherwise, anything is possible.

Anyway, if there is afterlife, I'll just have to stay alive.

Keep me posted

Ron:

Think of this: How long were you unborn before your life? Forever?

If so, how could your moment to exist have ever arrived?

Could it be that what you really are has always been and therefore always will be?

Since there is no time.

Tucson:

Thank you for your comment, at first it made me feel better.

But consider this:

1) It is possible, that there was a begining. Hence, not FOREVER, but since the creation of our time-space.

2) Time, or some other effect that projects our preception of time on us, must exist.
Otherwise, we would have no destinction between past and future.

3) Trying to understand the boundary effects of space and time (i.e begining/end)
Is futlie, for now.

To conclude, I meant an empirical proof, that all human beings, have, for lack of better words, an immortal soul. Because, we are very far, from producing a theory, about our space-time, that will confidently predict the fate of the dead.

Ron, I just responded to an email from someone else on this subject. In part, I said:

"I also ponder such things as:

--gratitude for existing at all. I could not have been. Yet, I am. For that I’m grateful. Don’t know to whom or what; probably never will know. But it’s better to have lived and died than never to have lived at all, isn’t it? (though Woody Allen might disagree)

--the uncertainty of what lies beyond death. Yes, it’s probable that death leads to personal non-existence. But this can’t be known for sure. We could be pleasantly surprised after our last breath. Or unpleasantly, if the Christian hell exists. Regardless, a surprise could await.

--living life fully. If this life is the only one we’ll have, it makes sense to not waste it through worry. Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” (Stoic philosophy) are a wonderful commentary on this notion. Every moment is precious. To fear death is to dilute the quality of life."

I can't say that I've overcome a fear of death. But I've learned how to deal with it better.

Ron,

Then try this:

The past is a memory, the future is a supposition, and the present is past before we apprehend it.

In other words, by the time the sensory input reaches our brain, the phenomena that caused it is "past" because the process of perception and conception are complicated and require a lapse of time for their completion.

The only "present" therefore is PRESENCE and must necessarily be what we are. Such PRESENCE, then, is inevitably outside of time and must be intemporal.

This intemporality never was any 'where' or at any 'time' but here and now, and Here and Now it will be forever.


I think I understand.

You mean, each of is an eternal being (or part of an eternal being), and we tap into this space-time, using our bodies.

That's the "spark of life", what differs us from machines.

Did I get it right?

Ron,

Not quite.

How about this:

We "tap into" space and time via our minds. They exist as concepts only, not absolutely.

What we are is this immediate consciousness which is looking, hearing, feeling, but can't see or know itself as an object in the same way an eye can't see itself.

An eye can only see itself in a mirror and the mirror is what is seen, heard and touched.

oh...ok

Where does this leave us? the real us?

What happens after the mind dies? Do we become conscious to our absolute self?


Ron,

You asked, "Do we become conscious TO our absolute self?"

--We become conscious AS absolute self which may seem like mincing words but there is a profound difference. There is no entity, no 'we', outside of absolute to know it. Absolute can't see itself as an object, it can only BE whatever it is.

There really is no mystery in this, only our conditioned inability to perceive the obvious.

The difficuly we have is due to the objective inexistence of pure non-objectivity which is our eternal nature.

This nature is devoid of even one atom of objectivity. Yet it is pure presence, autonomous and spontaneous.

It is This which is looking for Itself when we look for It, and we can't find It because It is This which we are.

Objectively It is not here and at the same time It is everywhere and apart from which nothing else is.

**Keep in mind that dualistic language does not permit us to express these things without the use of objective terms such as 'it'. One must 'sense' uninterrupted subjectivity.

Well said Tucson.


right.

Will one remain aware of his existence, and former 'life'?

I sense confidence in your words. where does it come from? do you think that is the 'afterlife', or do you KNOW that's the 'afterlife'?

And most importantly:

what happens to the dead?
yes, I know:
"We become conscious AS absolute self"
What does that mean?
---

Also:
"There is no entity, no 'we', outside of absolute to know it. Absolute can't see itself as an object, it can only BE whatever it is."

So there is no sensing, or awarness of self existence? that's just like non-existence...

---

How are we different from a pc/calculator/car?
They sense, they are taught how to respond to various stimulants. Machines understand only 'yes' and 'no', the current is X amp, or Y amp, open/close. They only lack the notion of "maybe", abstract thinking. Intelligence, means having the ability to artifically complete given 'corrupted' data.

----

Ron asks,

"Will one remain aware of his existence, and former 'life'?"

--There is only consciousness. No former life, no after life. Don't take my word for it. It won't do any good. Find out for yourself.

"I sense confidence in your words. where does it come from?"

--It's just my writing style. Some find it irritating.

"what happens to the dead?"

--Find out who/what it is that dies. Then you will know what happens to the dead.

"We become conscious AS absolute self"
What does that mean?"

--When you find out who/what it is that dies, then you won't ask that question.

"So there is no sensing, or awarness of self existence? that's just like non-existence..."

--No, there is just no 'thing' that senses or is aware. The sensing and being aware is what we are. Objective existence is only a notion.

As I have said before, we are conditioned to think that what we are is the presence of what is present, which is the absence of what is absent, but when we perceive what we are we find that what we are is the absence of what is present and the presence of what is absent.

How are we different from a pc/calculator/car?

--Whatever is, we are...we, who are not.

This is for you Ron.Enjoy and dont worry

I was entirely in the present. There was neither past nor future. No expectations, no judgments of my situation. I was aware that I was dying but there was no sense of regret, for there was no sense, as I said , of past (to regret) or future (to despair for). I just existed, and it was beautiful. As I was, in pain, and suffocating, but none of it mattered, for I was transcending eternity and in the void and I was the void and the void was me... and I would be in this place where I was forever.. and if forever were to be an instant or a thousand years was immaterial and irrelevant. I felt, "Abide with me, here, now, for I am at peace, and we are one". I felt a oneness with whoever was in the room with me, and whoever was unconscious with me, and I was dying, and it was good. It was just that -- good. Nothing fabulous, or miraculous, or brilliant. Just "good". Perfectly, clearly, good. I could have spent a trillion years right there, with that presence, whatever it was. But the hard thing to explain is that there was no "trillion years". There was just NOW. I had no sense of future. It's only now that I am alive that I know that I could have been content with an eternity like that. At the time, any concept of "eternity" was beyond my experience, for "time" was beyond my experience. The glorious euphoric peace, the presence, the empty, falling, now-ness with no past or future -- I can't recapture it, and it has changed my life, and I need to talk to others about it, and as a scientist I know that it was probably "just anoxia" -- but there is so much more to it that cannot be explained -- and yes, it has changed my life. Not what I saw, or heard, but what I felt. My priorities lined up, my values came into focus, everything in that void where one would think "Nothing" existed - the only reason it is called "Nothing", I believe, is that there is no Time, and existence is purely Being. That was my experience. Perhaps this is what the existentialist philosophers tried so hard to communicate, this "being-in-the moment", this awareness of self... what they stated was paltry compared to this. What I felt was powerful and intense and life-changing. It transcended any mere "moment". When I die, if this is what I will feel for all eternity, I await it. But with this experience, I know (and I don't know how) that I can't force it, or rush it. But I know. This is how it will be, and it is the truth. This pure, perfect psychological state, that I achieved by accident and can only recapture in memory, is real, an a genuine capability of the human mind. Would that we could figure a way to capture this as a daily state, even for five minutes. The world would be at peace. I do not refer to "world peace", but to inner peace. I was in physical agony, alone, desperate, scared -- and such was this peace, this contentment, this timelessness, that I would willingly do it all again, tenfold. I believe. I need to talk about it. I did a bad job, just now, of communicating what happened. I made it seem trivial.

@Obed:
I wish it was that easy, but my brain tends to go with a more 'mudane' explenation for you experience:hallucination.

@Tucson:
"Don't take my word for it. It won't do any good. Find out for yourself."

--How?

"Find out who/what it is that dies. Then you will know what happens to the dead.
"
--How?

"No, there is just no 'thing' that senses or is aware. The sensing and being aware is what we are."

--hmm...maybe...the vacuum's energy, kasimir effect, zero point energy etc. is what we become a part of...

(the above are all related, through the empiric evidence, that the vacuum is not so empty as we thought..or more precisely, the SPACE itself, the 3D space that allows 3D creatures to move in it, although empty of what we define as matter, is something, and not nothing.)

Ron asks, "--How?"

--Well, you could pick up one of the many books on meditation or find an advisor, teacher or guru.

But a good teacher can only show you that there is no 'way' or practice. A 'way' leads from here to there. From here to here there can be no 'way'.

Conceptualisation conceals what we are. Catch the moment between the thoughts. Then one might recognise oneself.

My best advice would be to pack your bags, go to the airport without them, catch the plane, and leave your self behind.

Then the kashmir effect becomes moot.

"From here to here there can be no 'way'.
"


"Catch the moment between the thoughts. Then one might recognise oneself.
"

Catching the moment between the thoughts, IS a practice, or a way. However, the two above sentences, are not contradictal, because the first "here" and the second "here", are not the same.

"kashmir effect"

The correct term is Kasimir or Casimir effect, named after Hendrik B. G. Casimir.

"Then the kashmir effect becomes moot."

How come?
----

Will all of us become absolute?


Hello all,
Im 19 and i have recently been experiencing these things. I can relate to many of the things posted. I had like 3 terrible days some weeks ago, constant depression and a lot of tears...I am now trying to overcome this. Whenever im going through this, i usually try to find websites like these and read similar stories. The non-existing thing freaks me out.
If anybody feels like talking about this, please send me a mail or add me to MSN Messenger. I cant find any of my friends to talk about this who is going through the same. Please only atheists, i dont want any religious BS.
Reach me at: talkinghead89 at hotmail.com

Best,
Santiago

@Santiago:

1)You can add me to messenger... I'm still not over this.

2)Religion is not BS, and it is disrespectfull to call it that. A religion, is a set of belifes, rituals and morals.
The belifes and rituals, give many people comfort. (about life after death, creation of all, meaning of life) They are the wrapper of the real idea:
Morals. Modern riligions, focus on setting the morals of men and women, on the right track.

All your fears and angsts are within it. You can faint while colluding in to the deep chasms of your fear of non existence or existence, but soon you will awaken again to the field which is beyond your ego and which always is. Good thing is that you will not always remain who you are and the thoughts of uncertainty that make your present life a living hell. Its like a dream, you dream different persornalities but upon awakenning you have no strong desires to go back and assume the dream life. That also explains why a new brain is required for each successive life, so one can cherish the illussion of being born anew instead of tangled in an unending infinity. The field or being that spurn you is bigger than your worries. you and every thought rise and faden back in it, and nothing can change this. rejoice and cherish the gift.

Hi Ron
Sorry, i cant see your email; you add me if you want.
Regarding my comment on religion, i said that because it gets on my nerves when im having these thoughts that people come to me and tell me all that stuff of God and so on. I dont buy that, so they shouldnt come to me. Im very rational and scientific.

African,
I didnt get your comment 100%. Are you a believer of afterlife /re birth?

santiago,
sorry, have not been here recently.
As regards your question if I believe in after life or rebirth. I ponder that occassionaly, and would say that my time initiated mind and brain has a bit of fun with that since it is its nature to project and ponder, but something profound in me tells me that my source or witness reality is beyond time and its rigors as imposed upon the mind, as such I try often to identify with this pure unimaginable essence of timelesness within me which simple is. I believe that with practice the intensity of the projecting mind is lessened to such an extent that your wonderious contented inner nature becomes more prevailent. Im not there yet, but I know this to be truth. I guess what I am saying is that the only reality is the pure unmitigated moment without thought. that thou art.

I think African is onto something.

If one imagines that the individual self is real, then one might in some way persist after death and eventually find a new bodily expression. However, once this limiting tendency of the mind is transcended the issues of death and reincarnation are no longer applicable. They just become irrelevant like Palin's qualifications to be vice-president if Obama wins.

Perhaps one just remains eternally, timelessly as This very moment free of concepts and thought.

Thanks, African.
I just believe in human potential and nothing else. We come to this world to just help keeping the ball rolling, and then, we are gone. The best thing that you could be given is recognition and therefore achieve somekind of immortality.

Thanks...

Santiago wrote: "The best thing that you could be given is recognition and therefore achieve somekind of immortality."

--So you write a great book, compose great music, errect tall buildings, sire many children. It all will be dust, then molecules, and finally atomic particles one day. Not even a memory to anyone. What kind of immortality is that?

Immortality is perhaps recognizing who you really are as that timeless "essence" African is talking about.

Also, in light of being that essence, Radiohead's comment is applicable:

http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2008/10/death-cant-be-i.html#comment-136847487

Im not saying that inmortality could be remembered by everyone, but i think i'll be happy with at least one thinking of what i was.

Anyway, radiohead's comments are spot on.

Hello all. I 24 and I have been experiencing this on and off for a few years now. Recently it has come to the point of being very depressing, where I think of every passing moment as a piece of my life slipping away into nothingness.

I see this deep dark fissure when the thought strikes and I'm paralyzed with fear, where I gasp for breath.

What set this all off is that my 24th birthday is going to be in less then a week and within the last few weeks I've been obsessing about becoming older and counting the years of my (and my loved ones) potential life span.

I have a very high IQ and I fear that it has led me to constantly question higher-beings and have a lack of faith as I gain knowledge. This fear of non-existence is starting to be beyond my ability to control.

I know one day that this fear will fade some and I'll be able to carry on, but at the moment it's just too much.

Raith,

Relax Dude... and get over it. Your're ONLY age 24 for christsake!!! Are you frickin crazy, or stupid, or what? You've got many decades to go before you need to give any thought, much less frett and worry, about this stuff.

Just live your life NOW. Enjoy your life NOW. Every moment of your life that you spend fretting and fearing and worrying, is a moment that you have foolishly WASTED... not a moment that you have LIVED and enjoyed and appreciated. All you can do is live each passing moment. Everything is transitory, so get used to it, and don't frett about it. Just enjoy it while you can.

I myself am over 60 years old. And when I was your young age, I was definitely enjoying my life to the very MAX. I didn't give a tiny shit about getting older or about death. I just LIVED for TODAY. My generation was called the "NOW" generation. We lived our fleeting lives to the fullest. And I still am.

So I suggest that you wake-up out of your worrying and paranoia, and do the same and quit obsessing about something (old age & death) that is way far beyond your control or your concern.

YOUR LIFE is happening RIGHT NOW. So LIVE IT NOW, and ENJOY IT NOW. This is all you have, and it's the best that you (or anyone) can ever do.

Don't worry, Be Happy.... while you CAN.


Raith, I hear you. I don't know exactly how you feel, but I've had similar feelings -- not as strong as yours, but in the ballpark.

tAo offers some good advice. The best way to challenge death is to live life as fully as possible. Embrace life with gusto so long as you can. You don't know how long that will be.

Yes, non-existence after death is a strong possibility. But not a certainty. So why not leave the question of what happens after you die unresolved, as a big fat ????

Uncertainty can be uncomfortable. But it also can be exciting and energizing. Each moment can lead...anywhere. We don't know what will happen next, not really.

Wanting to know what will happen after death is understandable. However, no one knows. Including you. What you do know is what your experience, your life, your awareness is right at this moment. That's real. The future and past isn't.

Keep on living, happily. I'm confident your feelings about death will change. You may never be able to laugh away death. Smiling though -- a real possibility.

Very well said Brian.

This is one of your all-time best comments. You expressed it far better than I did. Thanks.

And I also hope Raith returns and reads (and contemplates upon) what you've said here.


Hi again guys.
Im much more better that i was when i posted for the first time here. I kinda managed to get over it. Still, i get the chills now and then, but not as strong as the first days.
The best way to overcome this, in my experience, is thinking "you can't do anything about it (death)" and that "I wont realize when i die". This, plus living to do a good thing for humanity, like i said earlier, keep me away from the thoughts.
The funny thing is that...EVERY day when i wake up, i think "huhu, im still here" hahaha.

What i know is that, when a relative or someone close dies, that will be a total downtime, taking into account what i believe, that there is nothing after death and that they wont be coming back again. Anyway, i hope that doesnt happen soon.

Take care...
Santiago.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you ALL - is all that I can say. I have never responded or posted on a blog before But I feel compelled to say I know this feeling all too well. Like so many others, I too, felt so alone all of the time with these overwhelming thoughts that seemed to take over my mind - especially during that late hours of night. Funny thing is that the first time this happened to me I was 5 years old. My mind would race thinking about life after death (not my life) but the world or universe. I would contemplate infinite blackness or nothingness. Just reading this and talking about it the feeling takes over every inch of my body and my entire being feels warm and cool at the same time.. it scares my beyond explanation. Being raised catholic the alternative is heaven and the thought of existing forever in heaven scares me as much as nothingness. These thought make me so uncomfortable I want to crawl out of my skin. It is so good to read about others with similar thoughts... still the fear is there and I want it to go away and make peace with the unknown so I can leave in peace with the known. Thank you all so much

-nicole

nicole, your honest self-awareness will take you far. Lots of people deny that they're afraid of death. You're in touch with your fear. That's great.

I'm reading a book by Julian Barnes, "Nothing To Be Frightened Of." He's a novelist and terrific writer. He's also afraid of death, notwithstanding the title of his book.

I love how Barnes is so open and direct about how feels toward death. There aren't answers in this book (what's the answer to death? not dying; good luck with getting that answer). But you might enjoy Barnes' style and attitude. See:
http://www.amazon.com/Nothing-Be-Frightened-Julian-Barnes/dp/0307269639/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1229922404&sr=8-1

When I finish the book I'll probably write a blog post about it. If you click on the "death/rebirth" category in the sidebar to the left you'll find other musings on the subject.

Main thing: you're not alone. We're all together in this thing: death.

I know this is almost 3 years after the original post and I have never been to this website, but today I typed in "fear of non-existence" into google and I got here. And your description of what you feel drove me crazy because for more than TEN years now, I have been feeling the EXACT thing you have described and I've searched online before but never found a description of the "feeling" that compares in any way to mine. So, even though I have never posted a comment in response to anything online ever, I really felt compelled to do this because I could not believe the description. I have just read it to my husband over the phone and he knows that I have described "it" in nearly the same exact words, but probably less articulate on my part. When I do "feel it" I spin into a panic I suppose that I can't control and I consider it also the worst feeling, but at the same time I feel like I see something that no one else does.... and now I know that someone else might. I could go on more about this, but I won't here.

Karla, I feel good that you've resonated with the description of what I felt. It doesn't change death, or our reaction to it, but it's good to know we're not alone.

I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said, "We read to know we are not alone." So true. Books. Blogs. Whatever.

Reading about other people's experiences shows us that while we're all different, in another sense we're all one.

And maybe this is the key to opening the door that leads to not fearing death so much: oneness. Sounds like a New Age platitude, But it just might be the reality of our universe.

I just tried leaving a comment, but I don't think it posted. I just wanted to say that I have experienced exactly the same experience and was amazed to find it worded so exactly the way I have tried to describe it to my husband. I am 24 and I have experienced "it" for about 10 years now and honestly thought I was alone in feeling this peek into non-existence. It just felt good to see others having experienced it too. Thank you.

Sorry I just noticed the first comment was posted. Thank you again.

It's been since November since I've first posted and I just wanted to say that I've been here a few times to check-up on postings. I'm feeling better about it by leaps and bounds since I've first posted and through more research (and a bit of soul-searching) I've done I'm slowly starting to believe in God and religion again. Not because it gives me something to hold on to (though its a nice feeling sometimes), but because the more I think about the Universe, God and the very nature of life and how the Universe is wired to create life... I feel that there is a stronger and stronger possibility that there is a life after death of sorts.

I still don't like the idea of dieing... I intend to do great things one day, but it is something I've come more and more to terms with.

Doing the Greatest Thing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO0DtbaIeAM


"This transcendental sound vibration -- the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare -- is the sublime method for reviving our Krsna consciousness.

As living spiritual souls we are all originally Krsna conscious entities, but due to our association with matter since time immemorial, our consciousness is now polluted by the material atmosphere.

In this polluted concept of life, we are all trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in its complexities.

This illusion is called maya, or the hard struggle for existence over the stringent laws of material nature. This illusory struggle against the material nature can at once be stopped by revival of our Krsna consciousness.

Krsna consciousness is not an artificial imposition upon the mind. This consciousness is the original energy of the living entity.

When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. And the process is recommended by authorities for this Age.

By practical experience also, we can perceive that by chanting this maha-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel transcendental ecstasy from the spiritual stratum.

When one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind, and intelligence - one is situated on the transcendental plane.

This chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, is directly enacted from the spiritual platform, surpassing all lower states of consciousness--namely sensual, mental, and intellectual.

There is no need of understanding the language of the mantra, nor is there any need of mental speculation, nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this maha-mantra.

It springs automatically from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in this transcendental sound vibration, without any previous qualification, and dance in ecstasy.

We have seen it practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting, or even a dog can take part in it. The chanting should be heard, however, from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effect can be achieved.

As far as possible, chanting from the lips of a non-devotee should be avoided, as much as milk touched by the lips of a serpent causes poisonous effect.

The word Hara is a form of addressing the energy of the Lord. Both Krsna and Rama are forms of addressing directly the Lord, and they mean "the highest pleasure, eternal". Hara is the supreme pleasure potency of the Lord. This potency, when addressed as "Hare", helps us in reaching the Supreme Lord.

The material energy, called as maya, is also one of the multi-potencies of the Lord, as much as we are also the marginal potency of the Lord.

The living entities are described as superior energy to matter. When the superior energy is in contact with inferior energy, it becomes an incompatible situation.

But when the supreme marginal potency is in contact with the spiritual potency Hara, it becomes the happy, normal condition of the living entity.

The three words: namely Hara, Krsna, and Rama, are transcendental seeds of the maha-mantra, and the chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His internal energy Hara, for giving protection to the conditioned soul.

The chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of the child for the mother. Mother Hara helps in achieving the grace of the supreme father Hari, or Krsna, and the Lord reveals Himself to such a sincere devotee.

No other means therefore, of spiritual realization is as effective in this age, as chanting the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."


-- His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


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