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February 10, 2006

Comments

tAo,
How does Dzogchen compare or "fit in" with chanting Hare Ksna and Krsna Consciousness?

Thanks for your stories everyone, it's really great to hear other people's honest accounts. The trouble with experiences like these is that most people don't understand what you are saying and will just wave it away as a hallucination, or refuse to talk about it because of their own fear.

I've had several experiences of this nature, although there are two forms for me. The 'Void' experience happens during nighttime/waking from sleep, an indescribable nothingness and sense of raw terror and unavoidable panic. This is aligned with a feeling of absolute aloneness, as if I am the only sentient awareness in the universe.

The second type of experience is a loss of normal self boundaries, as if the confines of my body suddenly opened and my self flooded, like water out into everything. Everywhere I look, all I can see is myself and that is terrifying.

I worry sometimes that these experiences may have been brought on my taking LSD, and that I have brought to awareness a fear that puts me in jeopardy of insanity. But I am careful not to build too much theory around these experiences, as they are normally brief and difficult to comprehend.

I guess my understanding for now is that there is a dimension of existence (or non-existence) that I do not fully experience or fathom at the moment. I am influenced by Buddhist ideas and think that this confrontation with non-existence has more to do with a shift in the perspective of existence, not its annihilation. But speaking honestly, the void still feels terrifying and like the annihilation of everything I feel myself to be.

I respect the Buddhist teaching of interbeing but often it feels to me like it is asking me to be a tiny drop of water consumed and helpless in the raging and brutal torrent of existence.

Don't worry, I'm not bumming out too bad ;) But I still find it somewhat incomprehensible that some people can find the strength and honesty to face this terror directly. For now I must cling to my raft.

Just ranting to get it all out of my head and in the open. If anyone has anything to say to me, then drop me a line at d0z at hotmail dot com

Hi doz,

Thanks for sharing.

I don't know that there is hard evidence that this took place but it is my understanding that many of the ancient philosophers visited the eleusian well where they were perhaps given a specially prepared barley brew by the priest that may have included a halucinogenic fungus.

I'm not advocating the use of LSD, but perhaps the entire Western civilization was created out of the corresponding hallucinations :)

I googled fear of non existance and this page came up.
I have this deep and seething sense of impending doom. I honestly didnt think anyone felt or understood what I am feeling. If I continue to think along this thought process I have massive anxiety attacks where I feel as though I am sinking into the earth. The first time I realised what death was I was about 12 and watching Moulin Rouge strangely enough. I am now 17 and cannot deal with what I am feeling and thinking. I would sell my "soul" to avoid what is inevitable.

This realisation has lead me to see the world for how beautiful it really is and made me want to hold a tree so tightly and hope that the world wont swallow me up.

I am so scared.

Dear Jess,

When I was 17 I had a similar anxiety attack about death. It was overwhelming and changed my outlook on life. At first my solution was to party with no thought of tomorrow. Surf, chicks and dope was all I cared about, but the search for "understanding" was also born at that moment and continued for many years.

As a result of the survival instinct, the one who believes it will die experiences fear. There's nothing wrong with this. However, at the moment of death, when the fight for survival ceases, there's only clarity. Struggle and fear come to an end. In the absence of forms and ideas, everything is simple and clear.

Until this moment, struggle, fear, and resistance have every possibility of manifesting. But when the final, the ultimate, dawns, there is nobody left who can fight: there's simply emptiness by itself. In it this awareness, which is here now but seems to be concealed, is denuded of desires, ideas, and concepts. This emptiness is complete existence. It's completely clear and pure.

As the greatest advisor in your life, death confronts you with the mortality of your body, mind and soul. Death means the end of all you believed yourself to be. In the face of death, you have to question the belief that this concept of an "I" really exists. I advise you to question it now.

Look deep within yourself and see what this "I" is and if it really exists. You may find that clarity is all you really are, that ideas of what you are, are merely fleeting thoughts and images passing through this clarity which is pure presence, unborn and thus undying and is what you really are.

I have come to this understanding.

Our buddy tAo provided this link to something that may help you to understand what I mean. Choose a time when you have ten quiet mimutes to absorb yourself into it. Relax and enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e2FpwPs0oc

May you find the peace that is within you.

Jess, I like Tucson's response. A lot to ponder about in what he wrote. Which is, naturally, reflected in teachings such as Buddhism, Taoism, Vedanta/Advaita, and such.

Like I said in my original post, I've had many of the same feelings you have. So not only are you normal, hey, you're cool! Like non-egolossed me.

Don't know if there's any wisdom in this anecdote, but it just came to mind, so I might as well share it.

Today I had to have a colonoscopy. Never had a "real" one before (I had a virtual CT one a few years ago). I'd gotten through the uncomfortable prep period and found myself lying on a stretcher, waiting to be wheeled into the procedure room -- where something would happen that I'd never experienced before, and wasn't looking forward to.

A bit like death (except I've never heard of anyone dying from a colonoscopy). How to handle the waiting period?

At first I took the uplifting spiritual route. I figured that I'd relax on the stretcher in the curtained waiting room, and repeat a mantra that I use in meditation.

But after a while I still felt tense, because I was aware that I was putting quite a bit of effort into trying to relax. And the more I tried not to think about what the colonoscopy entailed (having stuff put up my butt isn't high on my list of fun things), the more I thought about it.

So the next time the nurse came in and asked if I needed anything, I said "Yes, give me back the pack that's under the stretcher."

Which contained, among other things, my iPhone that I'd gotten a few weeks ago. That very morning, before we drove to the Portland suburbs for the procedure, I'd downloaded an application that streams live TV (via wi-fi) on the iPhone.

Perfect for inauguration day. So I changed waiting gears and watched CNN on the stretcher, enjoying the scenes of new president Obama and his family.

Soon the nurse came for me and wheeled me across the hall. In a few minutes, after an IV was hooked up to my arm, I fell instantly asleep.

And didn't wake up until it was all over. Never felt a thing.

A bit (or a lot) like death. Except maybe (probably? surely?) for the waking up part. Regardless, my point is that sometimes (most of the time?) it works better to just get on with life and not try to figure out how to get on with life -- like by repeating a mantra that is supposed to take away anxiety and fear.

Not thinking about something is another way. If death is right in front of you, be aware of it. If it isn't, don't imagine that it's there.

I realize that sometimes a fear of nothingness comes on its own. In that case, embrace it until it leaves. But if you're trying to make it leave, that might have an opposite effect, like me trying not to think about the colonoscopy.

Focusing on something more interesting...that worked for me this morning. So enjoy life, and I bet you won't fear death.

To the original post

i don't think this is a fear of death, it's more than dying it the idea that you will no longer live again and the fear strikes to the core of you, i know it because i experience everyonce in a while and its the most terrifying thing ive experience, i avoid deep thought on the subject now because it causes such fear.
The concept of your conscious self never again, in any length of time existing; your not sleeping, your not going to wake up, its not a dream that will end in a billion years, no restart to the game, its just over, forever, that is scary

for of the stuff about enjoying life in the moment, loving life blah blah, that doesn't mean anything in comparison to the concept of not existing, nothing in this life that you do or appreciate will matter if for the rest of eternity you don't exist, so i really don't think you people fully appreciated this fear

Huckaby, I can only speak for myself: I do appreciate your fear, because I've felt something very similar myself. Yes, it is scary. And oh so real.

As I've noted before, I think you should consider yourself fortunate, in a way, to have this feeling. It could lead to a more vivid appreciation of life, which, after all, is the best way to "cheat" death -- by living as fully as possible while alive.

Wow. I've had indescribable shocks of fear like this since I was around eleven or twelve years old. I'm eighteen now and I haven't fallen into this feeling consistently for a few years or even in such great volumes as I experienced tonight. Mostly it would happen before trying to fall asleep (which is why I'm here, of course) but I recall a time in my life when I was around thirteen or so and I would suddenly fall into these panics exactly of what you have described and when I would look to my parents for comfort they took it for a while and tried to help but without being able to understand fully they just began calling me selfish and talking about all the poor children in third world countries and how fortunate I am etc.

I would often cry out with a, "NOOOO!!!" and in tonight's case I found myself repeating, "It just can't be true, it just can't be true, it just can't be true..." It's like this sudden immobilizing feeling that sends my head spinning and at the same time I'm making all these sudden movements with each "jolt" of fear the idea gives me.

I've also however experienced the flip side a few have mentioned here (The one about living forever). If I had to say, I would say I'd rather die in that case. But it's still so complicated that deep down I don't really know... To live forever or not to live forever, that is the question, I suppose...

Also, at the same time that I hate the feeling, it fascinates me so much! It's as if I tryyyy to feel it as much as I can when it occurs to try and grasp what it really is all about.

I am an Atheist now, by the way. I've gone back and forth from Agnosticism to Atheism and back many times but I've recently decided. Sometimes I've even felt it was liberating in the sense that one day everything I ever did wouldn't matter, though I would technically have to say that everything is pretty fixed, causal, and what not.

Whatever happens though, if my views change, I'll always remember all of these times when I've gone absolutely MAD, trembling and running around wanting to call up everyone I know even at odd hours like these in the night how much I care for them and how my foes and I should forgive each other because the possibility that we just won't be there to wrap our heads around not being there is very real.

Malva, thanks for sharing such honest feelings in such a clear way. Beautiful.

I realize that your feelings are disturbing, because I've had similar "Oh, no!!!" sensations myself. But there's also something wonderful about facing reality head-on, whether it be inside or outside our head.

Your commitment to what is real is going to serve you well in life, I'm confident of that. Your view of life and death will keep on changing as you do. Flow with it.

Telling it like it is, to yourself and others, should serve you well. Religion offers up false answers. You're facing in the direction of truth.

Brian,

Here is an example, my attempt to open the comment by the Malva person. I can go no further than your comment, dated May 6, 2008.

Clicking several times, for more comments, doesn't bring me to the Malva comment.

Thanks,
Roger

Brian,

It is working properly now.

Thanks,
Roger

Thanks for posting this, no one I've talked to seems to understand either, normally because they do believe in some type of after, but I know exactly what you mean and you described it perfectly.. It is way more than fear.. It's the worst feeling in the world.... I know what you mean....

I will tell you my long story short.
When i was little i asked myself a question who am i? And a fear of death took me over. And to not fell down i lied to myself and made a pact with the "evil" so i lost myself in the game of life not knowing who truly am i "the i who isnt there"
Since then i tried lsd and that got me to that question again and for a time i was lost in a storm of thoughts and in paranoia i still can go to that state of mind everyone can but the truth sets me free and when my attchments are let go off i will merge with what is and the there will be there nothing eternal peace true peace true love true .

It has been three years since your post. You are the only person I have EVER heard describe exactly what i feel. I dont just "kinda get it", I FULLY understand and experience EXACTLY what you described and I have never been able to describe it like you have. Contact me if you ever get the chance. I would love to know ways you get through it. I have these attacks on a nightly basis, almost every day, and I feel like im gonna go NUTS!

[Adam also emailed me. Here's what I said to him, in reply.]

I don't have the quasi panic attacks about not existing the way I used to. The idea of dying and never existing again doesn't thrill me (to say the least), but it seems that my psyche has come to some sort of accommodation with this aspect of reality.

Here's how I approach the problem of dying, Adam. These aren't original ideas (read Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" for a better take on the Stoic side). They're just how I talk to myself when my mind gets a bit, or a lot, overwrought with anxiety.

(1) While I'm alive, I should really live. Living is living. Dying is dying. No one knows what happens after we die. I know what living is like, because I'm alive now. If this is my only chance at living, I need to embrace life whole-heartedly now. Being fearful of dying prevents me from doing that. I can't really cheat physical death. But I can in this sense: by living in such a fashion, that I can take my last breath with no regrets. Or at least, few, because I've lived life the way I wanted to while alive.

(2) We can't be sure what will happen to us after we die. Yes, almost all of the evidence points to death being the end of an individual's existence. However, most (if not all) of the world's religious traditions point to some sort of continuing form of consciousness.

Buddhism, for example, says that probably a "soul" doesn't carry on, but our consciousness takes on another form that lives again in another body. So there is a possibility that fear of death is misplaced, in that we'll die and find that some aspect of us continues to exist. I can't accept a firm religious belief in this. But I can embrace a not-knowing that says, "Only death will reveal the answer, so I won't fret about knowing the answer now."

(3) We're all in the same boat: that of living and dying. I'd like to be special. For many years, when I was a true believer in an Eastern religious faith, I considered that I'd be taken of after death by my guru and/or God in a fashion that wasn't available to people of other faiths.

Now, I figure that whatever happens to me is going to happen to other people at death, and vice versa. This is comforting in a way. I don't worry any more about following commandments that will ensure my salvation. I feel a kinship with everyone who is alive, because we're all going to face death in the same way.

(4) My dog is wiser than me in some respects. As are other animals. She doesn't fret about the future (though she nags me to go for a walk most afternoons). Now, I wouldn't want to give up my human capacity to be self-aware. Still, unnecessary or excessive self-awareness isn't productive. Sometimes an unexamined life is well worth living.

For most of my life I've spent a lot of time pondering the Big Questions of Life, including "what does it mean if death is the final end of my existence?" As I get older, though, I've done less of this. Maybe my dog is teaching me something. When she's happy, she's happy. When tired, tired. And so on. We love animals because they are so in the moment (by and large; our dog does have a fear of thunder and fireworks caused by a close lightning strike). This is related to (1) above, of course.

(5) Fear of non-existence is, really, non-existent. Why? Because we can only have that fear while we're existing. Some Greek philosophers I quoted in this post (Seneca and Epicurus) made this point better than I can. See:
http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2007/06/body-worlds-3-h.html

This relates to (2). I feel anxious about not-existing while I'm alive. When I'm dead, if I'm really dead and gone, there won't be anybody around to know it. And if I'm still alive after death, I'll be feeling good about that fact -- unless I'm cast into hellfire, or something, which I consider to be exceedingly doubtful.

(6) When I worry about going crazy from my worrying, getting crazier isn't a bad way of dealing with the situation. Now, I'm not recommending this to you. It's just another option to consider. I was around in the '60s and did a lot of psychedelic drugs back then. I'm considerably less wild and crazy now.

But I'm not completely sane and sober either. For a long time I didn't drink alcohol at all. Now I have a glass of red wine most evenings. It relaxes me. When I occasionally drink two glasses, I'm relaxed even more. I'm not suggesting that alcohol or other drugs are a solution to life's philosophical or existential problems. However, altering one's consciousness and finding that the problems either don't exist any more or don't seem as serious, shows that the real problem is with our own psyche.

Hope this helps, or at least is of some interest to you. As I may have said on a blog post, people like you who have this realization of life's finitude should be grateful, really. The same feeling that makes you and me anxious about death also can make us much more appreciative of life.

Here we are, alive, right here and now! And we won't always be. Perhaps for eternity. This makes every moment of life infinitely precious. We need to suck every possible bit of living from each moment of life.

Brian said:

"Here we are, alive, right here and now!"

"This makes every moment of life infinitely precious."

"We need to suck every possible bit of living from each moment of life."

-- Yes, this is very true.

“A man of knowledge chooses a path with Heart and follows it; and then he looks and rejoices and laughs; and then he sees and knows. He knows that his life will be over altogether too soon; he knows that he, as well as everybody else, is not going anywhere; he knows, because he sees, that nothing is more important than anything else.

In other words, a man of knowledge has no honor, no dignity, no family, no name, no country, but ONLY LIFE TO BE LIVED, and under these circumstances his only tie to his fellow men is his controlled folly.

Thus a man of knowledge endeavors, and sweats, and puffs, and if one looks at him he is just like any ordinary man, except that the folly of his life is under control. Nothing being more important than anything else, a man of knowledge chooses any act, and acts it out as if it matters to him."

— by Don Juan Matus, as told in Dr. Carlos Casteneda's book "A Separate Reality".

+@o

Thanks for reminding me of “controlled folly”. I have read Castaneda's books many times and found them to be very empowering. For those who wish to find a path with heart instead of living in fear here are some sayings:

The Wisdom of don Juan:
http://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/donJuan.html

Jen,

You are most welcome, and thanks to you too.

“A man [or a woman] of knowledge chooses a path with Heart, and follows it"

"He [or she] knows that his [or her] life will be over altogether too soon"

"a man of knowledge has [...] only life to be lived"

"if one looks at him [or her] he [or she] is just like any ordinary man [or woman, except that..."

"a man [or a woman] of knowledge chooses any act, and acts it out as if it matters to him [or her]."

These quotes are nothing more but nuggets of super-market wisdom ... give me a break
No need of a Don Juan to formulate this kind of commonalities ...

I was quite entertained when I red Castenada's book years ago but we need to come to a term that the stories are just stories that a guy ultimately made up - however inspired they might have been from second-hand accounts ...

If Brian feels entitled to undermine the obvious delusions and fantasies of some religions, the same applies to less organized sources of bullshit.

"In the The Power and the Allegory, De Mille compared The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui way of Knowledge with Castenada's library stack requests at the University of California. The stack requests documented that he was sitting in the library when his journal said he was squatting in don Juan's hut. One of the most memorable discoveries that De Mille made in his examination of the stack requests was that when Castañeda said he was participating in the traditional peyote ceremony -- the least fantastic episode of drug use -- he was not only sitting in the library, but he was reading someone else's description of his experience of the peyote ceremony."
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Castaneda

But I guess some people don't have any problem with stories involving conflicting and elusive timelines ...

the elephant,

Sorcerers can be tricksters, that’s the name of the game. And I don’t have a problem with stories involving conflicting and elusive timelines, especially as I understood that Castaneda was taught to be secretive and eliminate his own personal history and of course he wasn’t going to let anyone know of Don Juan’s whereabouts. We will never know if the character of Don Juan was compiled from numerous sources, but I certainly enjoyed the books, it brought shamanism and non-ordinary realities into the mainstream consciousness at the time. Other copycat new-age type books that have appeared since then are absolutely tame and boring in comparison and btw I wasn’t impressed with deMille’s book, didn’t manage to convince me in any way. As to delusions and fantasy, what makes you so sure you’re always right?

Dear "the elephant,"

Thanks for your attention to actual facts.

Robert Paul Howard

...but just how do you know for certain as to what the "facts" were? were you there? can you prove it? DeMille didn't, because he wasn't, and so he couldn't.

But of then course, that didn't matter, as no doubt DeMille was still able to SELL a FEW of his books to a few suckers.

And then, one copy finally ended up in some thrift-store dumpster... where I happened to find it, read it, and then carefully return it to its rightful home in the dumpster. Such is the nature of folly. LOL

Jen: "As to delusions and fantasy, what makes you so sure you’re always right?"
You question is too general ... It depends on the nature of what we can call 'delusions' and 'fantasies'--which may vary depending of the context.

Regarding Castenada, I can't be sure (I was not even born after all) in the same way as I can't never be sure that I will never be hit by a car when I cross the street, and yet I cross the street. Even though library records are more credible than what looks like ex post and convenient excuses, it is only in the broader context and accumulated inconsistencies that I attach little credibility to Castenada's work--although I red with fascination and joy his reeditions when I was a teenager. And those are only small pieces in the overall rational web that convinces me of the factual improbability of Castaneda's tales. Call it a judgement call. One that i have no doubt I will never be deceived by holding it living my life. And if it happens that I would ever be then so be it ...

I prefer accounts that are without fantastic occurences, and for which the authors did not benefit from the sharing of their wisdom but instead were persecuted for daring to do so -- like Spinoza and Meister Eckhart.


Elephant wrote:

"These quotes are nothing more but nuggets of super-market wisdom ... give me a break
No need of a Don Juan to formulate this kind of commonalities ..."

--Well then, offer up something better instead of just bitching.

I saw Castaneda at UCLA once by chance. He was fat and drove an expensive car. Not at all the image of a shaman, but what should a shaman look like? What kind of car should he drive?

I always suspected that Castaneda made up most of his stuff. Surely the dialogues couldn't have been accurate word for word, but it didn't matter to me, even the personal dirt on him I've heard in various accounts. His writing helped create a sense of enchanted wonder when I am out in the wilderness that has stayed with me to this day. He helped "open the doors of perception" for many people. Thanks to him for that whether he was a fake or not.

the elephant,

So many people talk about actual facts and so-called reality. Isn’t every person’s reality according to his or her own experiences? I loved Castaneda’s sense of humour in the way he portrayed himself as a fool when confronted with separate realities, exactly like so many programmed and conditioned people from the west would behave when experiencing the shamanic way of seeing the world.

Why do people think that if someone enjoys something that means they have bought into it hook, line and sinker? I’ll never be an extremist, just experiencing life, being unknowing and at the same time observing and learning from everything that comes my way.

You use a pseudonym and don’t reveal your personal history so you are a bit of a trickster and yet I can see your agenda here on this blog so I don’t think I am naïve but rather use a different way of seeing and understanding people. I’m glad I’m not as smart as intellectuals because sometimes I can see how stuck they are and not very open minded at all when they cling to their cleverness.

Yes, I also love the enchanted wonder that is all around, and the world can be magical when we open ourselves to it (better than living in fear and terror of death).

>"Why do people think that if someone enjoys something that means they have bought into it hook, line and sinker?"

I don't think they all do. You can enjoy a story without believing in it.

>"yet I can see your agenda here on this blog so I don’t think I am naïve but rather use a different way of seeing and understanding people. "

>"I’m glad I’m not as smart as intellectuals because sometimes I can see how stuck they are and not very open minded at all when they cling to their cleverness."

Is this comment directed at me?
Smartness and cleverness are ultimately contingent manifestations. I do not entertain any role for them beside those I have seen and experienced. Prajna (in Zen) or intuitive knowledge according to Spinoza should not be confused with intellectualities, discursive thinking, cleverness, etc. It seems that perhaps because you don't fully understand what I have only partially expresssed (and I bear most of the responsability for that situation) you somehow and perhaps are yourself 'stucking' others into rigidities which do not really bind them ...

Your moments and perhaps more lasting expereinces of enchantment and wonder fill a compensatory function and play the role of buffers -- as you implicitly and probably unintentionally remark -- against a profound existential dynamic (anguish is not really adequate word but there is no obvious better alternative) that the Zen tradition places well within your being at levels/dimensions well 'upstream' the little nut/knot of knowing that self-consciousness and intentionality represent, and calls it, depending on the emphasis, great doubt or great matter ... And enchantment and wonder are at the end poor and pale substitutes ...

From (Part Three, Ethics, Spinoza)
"Wonder is the conception (imaginatio) of anything, wherein the mind comes to a stand, because the particular concept in question has no connection with other concepts (cf. III. lii. and note).

Explanation.—In the note to II. xviii. we showed the reason, why the mind, from the contemplation of one thing, straightway falls to the contemplation of another thing, namely, because the images of the two things are so associated and arranged, that one follows the other. This state of association is impossible, if the image of the thing be new ; the mind will then be at a stand in the contemplation thereof, until it is determined by other causes to think of something else.

Thus the conception of a new object, considered in itself, is of the same nature as other conceptions ; hence, I do not include wonder among the emotions, nor do I see why I should so include it, inasmuch as this distraction of the mind arises from no positive cause drawing away the mind from other objects, but merely from the absence of a cause, which should determine the mind to pass from the contemplation of one object to the contemplation of another."

the elephant,

Are you saying wonder is a concept or an emotion? Anyway, will exist in "the great doubt" for now...

Hey Santiago are you better?

Dear Brian,

After a very sleepless night last night (and literally making myself sick), I came into work this morning still trembling inside with my fear of non-existence. On a whim, I googled "fear of non-existence" and happened upon the "Church of the Churchless."

I read this blog and the comments that followed and am somewhat relieved that there are others grappling with this same fear. It hits me at the oddest of times - morning, noon, or night - and it comes in cycles. I'll go a few months without thinking about my fear of non-existence and then I'll go months thinking about nothing but my fear of non-existence.

I was raised in a Christian church to believe that there's a Heaven and a Hell, and to have faith and believe in God, therefore, I'll be granted eternal life.

My hands are literally shaking as I write this because I guess I also fear that actually recogizing this fear makes it more real.

I have spoken to my husband about it, asking him what he thinks and he said that everyone has the same fate and that is death. I also talked to my parents about it and they were very comforting and even admitted that they also sometimes think about death/dying.

My husband and I were raised in different religious backgrounds, but after feeling like he was either let down or abandoned by God, his beliefs have changed and I guess he could be called agnostic (maybe). Coming from such a strong religious-based/Christian background, I not only fear my non-existence and question where I'll spend eternity, but I worry about his soul and fear his non-existence and where he'll spend eternity.

This fear is sometimes crippling, and I don't know if it will ever truly go away, but I do have faith that this fear will subside and won't be so debilitating.

I'm glad I found your website and feel like I've found some "friends" that share my fear.

I'm so glad I found your blog.

I'm 16 years old now and have spent a VERY long amount of time obsessing over not existing.

It's the only thing I fear. I cannot come to terms with the fact that there is no consciousness because you become nothing. There is no 'you' to be aware of anything anymore, you simply cease to exist.

I'm thinking this way because of my brain and obviously when I die there will be nothing left to remain conscious of.

My mother is religious and she believes in an afterlife however I don't. Even if a god exists and an afterlife exists, you won't know it. Even if you are "reborn" as a human again or whatever, you won't know and so this defeats the purpose of reincarnation. It's a fruitless discussion.

The fact that you won't know, that you won't BE, scares me the most. Not death itself, but the fact that you're not living anymore. I am only 16, maybe I will welcome death when I am older, or at least not fear it. It's the most horrible feeling in the world. I can't describe it in words. I have had hundreds of sleepless nights because of this fear. It's like a whole new level of Thanatophobia. I guess it helps to know that I am not alone however.

Remembering that you're never alone helps me through these feelings sometimes. No matter where you are, living or dying, you are not the only one, religious or non-religious.

religious or non religious makes zero difference to the state of things as they are.

they are as they are, you are as you are, universe is as it is.

life is life, death is death.

no matter what you believe and whatever you don't believe makes no difference at all.

what is is what is, and what will be will be, ce sera sera.

ask universe to swallow you whole or spit you out, you have no say whatsoever, however you may think you might do.

Jason,

Please do not be disturbed by the insensitive comment by 'smackeroo to infinity'. He is a troll who likes to visit here.

Your anxieties and concerns about death are natural and something that most people experience at one time or another. You are not alone in this feeling and you know that, but this is of little comfort to you. Sometimes it is hard to shake that fear and it keeps coming up. Well, you are alive now and now is all there is. Live now and live well. Don't worry.

We fear our eternal non-existence into the future, but we never fear our eternal non-existence before we were born. Infinity goes both ways. How could your moment to exist have ever arrived if there was really time? You are Now and Now is always.

beautiful advice tucson. i second it.

Thanks a lot, Tuscon...

Realising that death inevitable makes me think that worrying about it is pointless, which helps.

I've been suffering from depression for a long while and I seem to have these thought patterns when I'm on a low...

Just have to make the most of now as vodafone would say haha.

Jason

Jason, since I wrote this post, I know how you feel. Not precisely, of course, because you are you and I am me. But I've had the same sorts of feelings, though not when I was your age. (I'm now 61.)

You strike me as an unusually sensitive and thoughtful person. Congratulations on that. Most people go through life without thinking much about the Big Questions, such as non-existence. I consider that it is as important to live life truthfully as happily, not that the two are incompatible.

Meaning, it's possible to live a lie, to believe that Jesus or whoever will meet you when you die and take you to heaven, even though there is no convincing evidence this is true. Further, every religion, just about, has a similar notion. Since the notions contradict each other, they can't all be true.

A couple of suggestions, from my perspective (the only one I have).

First, be open to all possibilities, but focus on probabilities. Hey, it's possible that there is an afterlife. Each of us will find out when we die. I feel it's more likely that everybody shares the same fate than that some people (Christians, Muslims, etc.) get a special post-death experience and others don't.

So relax. We're all in the same life/death boat. And like you said, there's nothing we can do about it. Leave a bit of your mind open to the small possibility that death isn't a final The End. Then live your life according to the much larger probability that it is.

In a book I just finished reading ("The Brain and the Meaning of Life"), Paul Thagard says: "If your pursuit of love and work have found some success, then you can reasonably hope that your life will have some enduring value even when it ends. Religions such as Christianity have provided a conceptual and emotional framework for dealing with death, but a better way to manage fear of nonexistence is simply to strive to ensure that by the time you die, you will have largely accomplished your goals and abandoned the unreasonable ones."

This may not apply to you, and I'm not recommending this to you (especially if your mother or father read this comment), but I really enjoy riding my Burgman 650 maxi-scooter even though two-wheeled transportation is more dangerous than the four-wheeled variety.

Actually, I shouldn't say "even though," but "partly because." I like the feeling of facing death more directly as I ride along. It makes me feel more alive. The same is true, I'm sure, of rock climbers, extreme skiers, base jumpers, and even skateboarders.

I'm not saying that we need to do something physically risky to live life fully. But some sort of risk -- emotional, psychological, interpersonal, philosophical -- is an inherent part of living. Sometimes running toward a fear is more effective than shying away from it. You seem to be facing your fear of non-existence head on by thinking about it, and writing about it.

Kudos to you. I meditate every morning for a while. Sometimes I simply say, "I am." It's kind of like giving the finger to death. I'm still alive. I can say "I am." When I don't hear myself saying it, when I'm not capable of saying it, or feeling it, "I am," then I'll be dead and gone.

Until then, I'm not. Pretty damn simple.

Racionaly, yes you die one day.
What does happen after that ?

Religious people - convinced into some story made by religion, really blessed people. No need to lough at them, choice of pills in matrix are not that that easy for anyone, and often wish to return to matrix :) cool movie btw.! (just finished typing my post and re reading it, so i feel happy now for some reason hope you will to)

Nothing, you just cant belive all those religious stories about afterlifes
- primal fear of non existance if thinking to much about it, i think it happens when one is tired, often experianced it around time I should go rest, otherwise there was no such dread.

Well, you just cant accept both of this stuff, both religious explenation or the nothing story.... so you make your own religon that sounds ... to simply put it "wise and smart", hence droping down rate of thinking about it, or to not drop into that dread feeling when you start thinking about it.

Also, there are ideas now that are cool like : i perserve a body and hope science will fix the rest since its so evolving yy... giving you "hope" to not even have to "experiance" the truth(after death period) if that is experiancable at all.

Then we come upon this interesting thing called "hope" , funny little thing, as long as you eliminate the 100% certenty of reason of that fear... fear will fade proportionaly, but still be there.
LIKE ;Mb all this religious people or something are really right, this little group cant be smarter then majority... perhaps there really is something after death.
or;Well science gonna find immortality fix so i wont need to experiance this until space consumes us all , and by then we will learn how to become another lvl of being without flash so it wont matter!
"but they wont find the cure yet" that is fixed by, freeze onself or perserve something that could in future with tehnology revive and then you get the immortality "boost".
--- This hope is most interesting stuff, and science can really give it to us, and the ever evolving humans are obvious to see trough the past to the present, and it seams like its on some exponential curve, the evolution ---
Then you get to be bit depresed why you born like few centuries 2 early , rats :P, but that is that hope of perserving ourselves as i said.


So my subjective ideas of coping with this is, well, just give yourself hope, no need to accept this state with 100% certenty.

Everyone who accepts it for sure without making some background illusion that makes him think he accepted which is in fact just his little religion he took from someone/modified/invented and upgrades it to suit him based on how his experiances or tries to deny mistakes in it.
Would need strong will to devert themselves from thinking about it, make barrier "i will think about it when im 80, or b4 death, postponing things, or take medications.

Anyway just deal with it people, permanently explaing what hapens after life with some story or reducting the fear factor with hope. I will try to do the same.

In mean while, do whatever those people said about enjoying life and stuff. However one may enjoy its life to fullest :P , but thats another topic.
Also when people have lot on their mind in rl, they sometimes forget about this anyway.

Cheers! MM from Croatia. Excuse me for my poor english typing skills... I am 2 lazy to fix it. Cheer up. OPTIMISM!

Hello all, I too have had many moments of panic starting at a young age when I would ponder the thought of non-existence. The feelings started at about the age of 10 and the panic increased at various stages in my life: during adolescence, in my 20's and since then only after the death of a friend or loved one. I have explained it to my parents who completely didn't understand, and to my husband who understood but who doesn't share my fear. He fears suffering, but the thought of not existing is just fine with him. Going into the earth and becoming the earth, no problem.

I am here tonight after attending the wake of a friend who died of cancer at the age of 50, father of two young boys, one of whom is a friend of one of my children. Where is he tonight? My Christian beliefs are strong and I feel a bit of guilt for my unfaithfulness, yet in some way my love for God and awareness of His love for me assuages some of that guilt. I think tonight He wants me to deal with this struggle that has persisted my whole life, and allow Him to conquer it for once and for all. Once while I was a student at a Theological Seminary I ashamedly expressed my struggles with the uncertainty of the afterlife with one of my professors and he encouraged me to "continue to struggle." He gave me no answers. I hated that then, and considered him somewhat faithless for not setting me "straight." But tonight, 15 years later, I appreciate that. Still struggling, hoping to be solidified in my faith. Someday before I die.

I do love life. I can't imagine Heaven being better than this although the Bible says it is somehow. I want to continue on so desperately, and of course with loved ones.

Wondering where everyone who has posted has gone...is this discussion over? I found Tucson's sentiments and many others to be so close to mine. Has anyone had any new thoughts? I know this discussion began years ago.

I find it interesting, on a side note, that many of us have had these feelings starting at a young age, and the feelings are almost always accompanied by severe panic. Maybe it's just a trait we're born with. It's torture!

Nikki, the guy who wrote this post is still here -- me -- as well as others who have posted comments. So you're being read, and heard. Thanks for sharing such honest thoughts and feelings.

As I've noted before, I think we're lucky in a way to have such an intense awareness of the distinct possibility, if not overwhelming likelihood, of dying and not existing as "us" anymore. I find that this awareness gives life a richness, a precious sense, that would be absent if I believed that earthly existence was merely a stepping stone to some place higher and better.

Hey, maybe it is. If so, I'll be pleasantly surprised after I die, as will you. (Of course, since I'm not a Christian, or a Muslim, fundamentalists of those faiths would say that I've got a nasty afterlife waiting for me; I'm not losing sleep over that possibility, though.)

Nikki, here's my current way of dealing with my fear of non-existence: I seem to be coming closer to an existential understanding that I've never existed, so not existing won't be such a big change.

Tucson, one of our regular commenters here, could explain this better than I can. I look upon it in both a Buddhist and neuroscientific fashion. Both disciplines are unable to find a "self" within the human head, or body. There's just stuff going on, inside and outside of us, in a marvelously interconnected way.

Yes, it sure seems like there is a "me" separate and distinct from all these goings-on. Yet there's good reason to look upon this sense of i'ness as an illusion created by our complex brain/mind, which has evolved a powerful capability of self-awareness. Or at least, seeming self-awareness, since there doesn't seem to be a "self" inside our cranium which is aware.

Didn't the Beatles sing something like, "You are me, and I am you, and we are all together"?

If so, and I believe this is true, I'm not going to cease existing when I die, and neither are you. because we never really started to exist. We're the product of all sorts of things -- genetics, solar energy, culture, experiences, interactions with all sorts of people, etc. etc. All this has resulted in me thinking that I'm a "me."

But our dog goes through life just fine by just living, without pondering the fact that she's living life. We aren't dogs; we're self aware humans. However, a lot of wise people throughout the ages have urged us to simply live.

I seem to recall that Jesus said something about letting the day (or morrow?) take care of itself. Taoists certainly share that sentiment, as do Buddhists and those of many other faiths. We thoughtful people sometimes think too much. Thinking isn't a bad thing -- more good than bad, I'd say -- but it can be overdone.

There are times when life seems so simply right that I feel, "It'd be OK to die right now." Well, if it's true then, why not at every moment?

Nikki,

Your comment was very moving. You stated,

"My Christian beliefs are strong and I feel a bit of guilt for my unfaithfulness, yet in some way my love for God and awareness of His love for me assuages some of that guilt. I think tonight He wants me to deal with this struggle that has persisted my whole life, and allow Him to conquer it for once and for all."

--Could you explain what you meant by unfaithfulness? Has some of your guilt originated from some church school teachings, you received at the age of 10?

I have never had these feelings of guilt or struggles regarding nonexistence. Is there a way to understand how these feelings came upon you?

Thanks,
Roger

Thank you Brian and Roger for your responses. I've never blogged before so thanks also for explaining how you're still there.

Brian, you obviously think alot and are much more intelligent than I. Your comments go in and out of complex and simple, I think trying to be more simple because you tend to get so complex! I don't have that problem because I can't think as critically as do you (I might some day, when my 4 young children give me some time to think!!!). As I type my 4yr old daughter is talking to me, so sorry if this is not the most clearly-written blog. I am a miserable multi-tasker.

So you are now of the impression that you don't exist? This being an other fascet to Tucson's notion that we have always existed and therefore will continue to always exist? This stuff is too deep/analytical for me. I applaud you for being sane with minds that appear to work in overdrive. And you truly sound sane and balanced to me. And I can also fit much of my Christian beliefs in with what you say as well. If I had a minute to form the words...

Roger, what I meant by unfaithfulness was that I wasn't "totally sure" where my friend who died was. I allowed a seed of doubt to exist. My children have been asking the hard questions about death and I feel this doubt the most when I explain the Christian answers to their questions. Naturally I want to be honest with them. I just wish my faith were stronger, so I could explain to them with more conviction. My goal is to be a stronger Christian, however, not to be convinced that there is no God. Believe it or not, that's why I am here in this blog.

I have had teachings since I was 10 about faith, and yes my guilt stems from them. But to me that's not a negative, just a fact. Faith is about stepping out blindly at some point, and I guess I am not very comfortable with that, hence my guilt about it. God is working slowly but steadily with me. By asking the questions I ask, I am getting close to the fire. But I know I don't want to jump in to it so I am ok.

Roger, why are you not afraid of nonexistence? My husband is the same way. I can't understand it. Sounds like you have great faith, to be ok with whatever happens to you, even if it means to cease to exist.

Thank you,

Nikki

Hi Nikki,

Thanks for your response. You are a very nice person.

---You stated that your guilt stems from your teachings received on faith, etc. at the age of 10. So, I'm guessing that someone(a church teacher) planted a seed of guilt within your mind at that time?

I don't see that I have any special advantage, however, I have never allowed or been near such 'teachings' to obtain a seed of guilt. I'm human, and I can feel guilt, especially if I was involved in an activiity that truely hurt someone. I don't have a problem with having a very simple belief in God. In addition, I simply don't know what, after my death, will happen next. It is currently unknown to me. That said, I can see having a fear of a slow painful death. Again, I'm just human. Nothing special

I had the experience of non-existence twice. Last in 1976 when I was 46. I am 80 now. It is terrifying - absolute and certain. It is dreadful knowledge beyond all considerations of religion, reason or anything else. Then the moment passes - if it didn't, you feel paradoxically that you would die - you could not withstand it - you would be over the top - crazy or something - and so it went - recurring frequently for about 6 months. I cannot improve upon the excellent description given at the top of this page. However, in fact, as phyisicts know - anatomically - we don't exist, do we? All matter is an illusion created by electro-magnetic fields apparently. And of course, Buddhists would be quick to affirm that all life on earth is an illusion. And that doesn't help us one little bit does it! Anyway, thanks for the chance to relate this experience - I often ponder the reality of things.


My congratulations to dolfgan for recommending :

Bernadette Roberts. http://www.firedocs.com/carey/roberts.htm

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

I have spent 40 years reading thousands of books and getting initiated by various masters.

Bernadette's book, The Realization of No Self, is the greatest book I have ever read.
Bar none. The Supreme Super Classic.

It is absolutely mandatory reading. The only thing you ever need to read.

Why is this book, composed in simple language, the greatest classic ever writen ?

In Indian theology, the jnani is the highest. But, the jnani does not usually want anyone else to become enlightened.

Only the jnani is actually enlightened.
No other masters are actually enlightened.

This book is incredible because it is stripped of all Indian dogmas. Enlightenment
'happened' to this woman.

So, for a true jnani to have writen this book and published it, is quite astonishing.

Luckily she has writen in a style which is very erudite. It can be understood.

But, enlightenment seems to be something totally different from what we have been taught by masters.

If you actually want to know what enlightenement really is, read her book,
writen a few decades ago.

It will go against everything you ever thought you knew.

It is deadly accurate.

I am astonished there is someone smart enough here to recommend it.

Mike,

You stated,

"If you actually want to know what enlightenement really is, read her book,
writen a few decades ago. It will go against everything you ever thought you knew."

---In duality, one can create a definition of 'enlightenment', and thus be trained in what that definition 'really' is. Nothing special about this. Where would this desire to 'actually' want, come from? Likewise, what will there be that goes against everything I ever thought? Why would I think I know, in the first place?

The guru, sucha s Tulsi, or Nanak, will
tell us to stop thought with Nada.

Saints will almost always tell us a method
to force thought away.

Seekers therefore never directly look at
thought.

I believe this is the entire problem.

We use thought constantly, try to supress
it, etc.

But, we never turn around and look directly
at thought.

Take any thought and look at it as a thing.

A thought is neutral in itself, not good or bad.

Then, what is the cause of our using thought
for bad deeds ?

Take the thought, 'That is a House'.

The thought is not bad.

But, now take the thought, 'I want the mansion on the hill, over looking the ocean'.

Do 'you' actually want the mansion on the hill, or does a seperate thought with the 'I' ? This 'I' containing a 'self' image
of 'WHO' you are.

Can an impersonal thought want the mansion
on the hill ? If the thought itself has no persona, no 'WHO', then where is this 'WHO'
that wants the mansion ?

A thought can't live in a mansion.

So, 'WHO' is in 'your' head that wants
the mansion ?

Thought may be the lead guitar, but the 'WHO' is always playing rythum guitar
in the backround.

Can you find 'your' 'WHO' ?

Can you see this ghost ?

Look directly at the ghost of the 'WHO'
thought.

You know I got to say that when I read this word for word, it felt as if I was the one who wrote it. I couldn't believe that someone else out there and as a matter of fact, "others" feel the same way I do about not existing.

I will say that taking sometime to read a good portion of the post here has shed some light and helped me change my thought process in a new way. It definitely has calmed me down a bit and surely put things in a better perspective for me.

I will from now on try to look on life more differently rather than the way I do now and before. Thank you to all who have posted in here a revealed a lot of information that I most likely would have not found anywhere so fast.

Edward, I appreciate your thanks. It's always great to know that someone resonated with something I wrote. One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis: "We read to know that we are not alone."

Really, we're not as different as we seem to be when we look at people from the outside. This may not make our fears, anxieties, worries and such any easier to deal with, but there's some comfort in company.

I'm so glad I found this post.. there have been many nights when I couldn't sleep because this enormous terror of non-existence took hold of me.. I was terrified of not being, not feeling, of nothing after death, of having the universe go on without me and not even knowing that it does, or that it ever existed or that I ever existed..
& i found it impossible to reconcile myself to the fact that I didnt exist for the billions of years before my birth.. where was I? why dont i know? So why this brief life? what was the point of it other then to terrify us with the idea of it being taken away..
There is no answer, though it helped me to read all the comments. It's just good to know there are others who have felt and understood the same..

This fear has been running my mind and spirit into the ground for the last several months.
I never even thought about death half as much as I do now.
It might be because I had quit my anti-depressant and then started re-taking it and am now going through some strange mental confusion?
I had always felt some connection to a "higher being" if you will.
Now since a few months back, I feel like the rug has been pulled from under me and now I even question if life is even worth living?
I mean, if we are reduced to nothingness then what was the point of life and everything we learned from it?
What makes me even more depressed is that everyone I love and care about will never be seen again.
But how can I say that is the definite end of things, who really knows?
These thoughts plague me day and night, and I have trouble sleeping because of it.
I mean, I had been disgnosed with severe depression and anxiety before these thoughts took hold, so this is really not helping me.
I am worried that these thoughts and feelings are going to never leave me alone so I can live my life.
I am in the same boat with Tucson, about feeling like I am losing time and wondering where my life went.
It does feel good to at least write this and sympathize with others about our common fears, and try to come to some level of understanding.
Reading the Bible has been a comfort to me, and also reading about supernatural things in general.
I have always believed in those things and never once did I second guess until now.
In the back of my mind I worry that I am going to die, everything is going to fade to black and then just nothing.
That scares me like nothing else in the world.
I understand that fear of death is normal because it is the fear of the ultimate unknown, but it's not normal when the fear is robbing me of enjoying life itself.
I just want this fear to end, and I want these thoughts and feelings out of my mind.
I remember a time when I never worried about these kinds of things, and I wish I could go back to that.
I am not seeking ignorance, or even denial of an event which cannot be avoided.
I want some peace of mind that I will be okay and that when my time comes, I will not be alone in a void of nothing.
And yes, even if there is life after death, what will I do for a million years?
Guess I will find out when I get there.
But anyways, I know life has to have some kind of meaning, otherwise what is the point of all this?

PM and Jason, thanks for sharing your thoughts (and fears) so honestly. Facing the fear of non-existence head-on, or at least with a glancing blow, is the way to go. Otherwise your unconscious anxiety will do its own thing behind the scenes. It's better to get stuff out into the open, where it can be dealt with.

But how? There's no easy answer. All I can do is state, or restate, my personal approach to dealing with the fear of dying and possibly/likely never existing again. Here's four approaches I use:

(1) Nothing is certain. Well, death is. But what happens after death isn't. Sure, there is no solid evidence of life after death. Yet we're free to believe in the possibility of continued conscious existence. This actually is a scientific approach, since nothing in science is 100% certain. 99.9999% maybe, but not 100%.

(2) Read Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations." Or other Stoic sorts of writings. Death happens. To everybody. We should face it with courage. Soldiers do this all the time. Many die young. We should feel fortunate if we're able to live a fairly long life, and meet our eventual end boldly.

(3) Along this line, focus on how wonderful it is that you've been able to live, not how awful it is that you'll die. Consider the 13.7 billion years since the big bang, all the things that had to happen in the cosmos, in our galaxy, in our solar system, and on Earth so that right now, right here, we're alive. Even if we only live for 40, 60, or 80 years, that's a heck of a lot better than zero. Say "thanks" to the cosmos.

(4) Read some Buddhist literature. And/or search for "self" and "Buddhism" in my posts (see Google search box in the right sidebar. There's good reason, neuroscientific and philosophical, to argue that we aren't who we feel ourselves to be. Namely, an individual self who is born, lives, and dies. Rather, we're the entire universe in a way. So how can we be afraid of dying if "we" never really were born, or ever existed?

This last approach probably is my favorite. Zen and other sorts of meditation are aimed at loosening our sense of selfhood. In the process, this lessens our fear of dying, because we don't feel so much like we're a discrete entity who comes to exist, and then doesn't.

The world goes on without us. The universe goes on without us. It's possible that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of the cosmos, like space and time. (Which reminds me, you might want to search on "consciousness" in this blog also.) Our personal consciousness may no longer exist, but whatever holds the universe together will continue to be.

And who knows? That may be us. The real Us, something universal and everlasting.

Dear Brian,
Below is a review on The Unobstructed Universe(TUU)
from Amazon.If you can try and get a copy.Gutenberg in Australia have a free download.I am not sure if you are able to access the site.
This review is from: The Unobstructed Universe (Paperback)
There is no higher praise that I could bestow any OTHER book than to compare it favorably to The Unobstructed Universe. I read it in 1972 and have read it at least three times since then. It never fails to teach me SOMETHING of value.

The most fundamental measure of any philosophical system is if it is internally consistent, i.e., that its internal parts are in agreement, with no contradictions. TUU is completely, 100% internally consistent.

It is logical. It is thorough. It puts all its pieces together, into one consistent whole. Even the premise of the book is that THERE IS ONLY ONE UNIVERSE (TUU). The universe "over there", on the "other side", is the same universe as THIS ONE, the one we inhabit. To claim that there is only one universe must be backed up with discussions about HOW they are the same. With its spelling out of the trilogy (time, space, motion) that we live with, and comparing it to the "trilogia" (conductivity, receptivity, frequency) of the universe that interlaces with ours, it unfolds for us principles - ESSENCES - that once learned about stay with us forever.

Without creating a philosophy complete with followers and gurus, Betty and Stewart White lay out a framework that we can all use, in formulating our ideas about why we are here and how we fit into the universe. There is no church that has ever built up around this, no sect, no cult, no belief system. It is just crib notes for taking the universe seriously, while appreciating it all with wonder.

Reading this all those years ago, I was pretty new (and YOUNG!) and eager to learn all I could about reality and the universe. After reading it, I thought that there would be books like this every so often along the trail. Sadly, that has not ever been the case. Yes, some uncovered for us a few tidbits and others did other tidbits, but none has come up to the standard of TUU.

The closest one - THE only other one I highly, highly recommend to anyone searching this area of inquiry - is another book of Stewart White's that was never actually published. It is titled "THE GAELIC MANUSCRIPTS" and is FREE for download at http://harmonhouse.net/fdl/gaelic.htm#contents. Like TUU, The Gaelic Manuscripts is an amazing book. Anyone reading White's contributions to metaphysical study will be grateful to have found this unpublished book. It is challenging, enlightening, and opens up vistas about many subjects that 'blow my head off'. It is NOT an easy read, and it is easy to read right past great passages that only make sense later on, and only when we come back to these points in a subsequent read does much of it hit home.

TUU is a foundational book, one that every searcher into the metaphysical would do well to read. And read again. And again. Gaelic, too.

On a scale of 1-5 stars, I rate The Unobstructed Universe a 15. And the funny thing is, I am not exaggerating. Gaelic might be a 20.
Regards
Stephen S Fine


Like a previous poster, i too found this site from googling 'fear of non existence'.

I recognize a number of aspects in this fear from other posters.

1. A fear of death that originated in childhood (i remember crying to my father that i didn't want to die). I didn't believe in an afterlife so had an early (too early?) concept of non existence.

2. A fear that grips you especially at night-time. I guess bedtime is the time when we are most left alone with our thoughts. Darkness also reminds us that in a dead universe, all light ends.
My bedside light came back on at 3am last night!

3. An all encompassing fear that sits heavy in the soul causing lethargy, or/and, an adrenaline rush that gets one pacing the room with a feeling akin to a panic attack.

4. Some deep thought with much pondering as to whether we can ever return in some form (we came from nothing, so after an infinite amount of time, could this process ever be repeated?)

Although i have had similar 'outbreaks' in the past, my latest fear revival came after watching 'Wonders of the Universe' with professor Brian Cox.
He talked about an eventual heat death of the universe and everything in it.
I cling to a hope that another big bang could restart a life cycle. I want to be part of a continual process (no matter how long it takes to reoccur).
Instead i got more of a sense of eternal death. I try to picture eternity and that brings on a deep dread and fear. A place without hope.

I'd like to push these thought out of my head, but fear they will always return if never confronted.

Chris,

You are not alone in your feelings. Many pace the room at night with such anxieties.
You should read, if you haven't already, the comments above on this topics. There are some good ones.

You said, "we came from nothing, so after an infinite amount of time, could this process ever be repeated?"

Think about this. With an infinite amount of time going into the past how could this process have ever started? The Big Bang was only an event in an endless line of time that went on eternally before it happened even though there were no watches. Time goes infinitely in both directions, conceptually. Duration is only an idea born of subject-object relation illusorily perceived.

Now always is. You are now. Now is what you eternally are. You are not your thoughts, your body or the apparent universe. Just now. That's it.


Thanks for replying Meher.

I'm not sure if that makes me feel better.

I was hoping that life is a cycle. If time was infinite, that a process would have to be repeated?
Big bangs causing new universes in the course of the future.

If there is always matter and always time, should life always return in some form?

If life always returns, should our whole existence be repeated?

We (being composed of atoms) can be rebuilt given that time is infinite and there will always be matter.

I struggle with the concept of 'time'. That it has no beginning nor end.
Very difficult to process that.

I understand i am a moment in time. What concerns me is that time may bring no change.
A heat death of the universe that ends with no chance of atoms coalescing. No change for eternity. No cycle. No life.

I did read that the big bang may have come from literally 'nothing'. Although i don't understand this, i do take some comfort in it.
A continuation of a process.

"I struggle with the concept of 'time'."

--Interesting, how a concept can create a struggle. I wonder if letting go, would help.


"Although i don't understand this, i do take some comfort in it."

--Interesting, how reading something can create comfort. Does comfort, increase or decrease from understanding this and that?

Roger.

Yes, letting go is an option. It has been my preferred coping mechanism through most of my life.
Simply do not dwell on these matters.

Spirituality can offer help for those who seek an inner peace.
I guess many troubled deep thinkers eventually take this path.

I have been looking more into the end of our universe and with it the permanent end of a process.
Here is a Youtube video on 'Time' that relates to my fear of our destiny

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDhOSDYy-dI&feature=related

The end of the video confirms my fears that the thing we call 'life' can cease permanently. Time will not change anything.

Not existing for eternity is a very uncomfortable thought.
I hope one day i can come to terms with it...or find a compelling reason why there should be another path.

Chris,

After your 'life' ceases permanently, how do you know you will experience very uncomfortable thoughts? What will be generating these thoughts? Where does this fear come from, when something or someone ends permanently? Why make a big deal about a process ending? Do you get excited when a process begins?

You said,

"Spirituality can offer help for those who seek an inner peace."

--What is this spirituality, you refer to, that will help in seeking an inner peace? Why doesn't it help with outer peace?

Chris, thanks for your reply, you seem very honest and sincere.

"Absolute can't see itself as an object,
it can only BE whatever it is."
Quote Poster

Getting to the heart of this matter.
I.E. If there is no object to be
seen or felt, the underlying Self
is conscious of nothing. Just like
you can't see your face unless you
look in a mirror.

The poster does not say "only BE whatever
it is", is conscious.

But, here's the problem. The ultimate
grounding of THAT which is, before
it expands into a universe, is not
conscious.

THAT acts according to its inherent
nature unconsciously.

Consciousness is the end result of
evolution. Consciousness did not
create the universe.

It seems THAT which is unconscious,
in its inherent Nature to create,
(without knowledge or consciousness
of its creation).

Picture Mother Nature being asleep.
During sleep she feels an itch
on her nose and her hand goes
up and scratches her nose.

Mother Nature is unaware she has
rubbed her nose. Yet, she
has created this entire universe.

What's more, Mother Nature has never
been awake, or conscious. She is
Sleeping Beauty. She only moves
by instinct.

We are the inherent energy that
Mother Nature is. Our absolute
material we are made of is unconscious.

Consciousness has been created by that
which is unconscious.

Like drunkeness comes from
the sober grape.

Our ultimate being, no matter
what it is, is UNCONSCIOUS.

In fact, consciousness and the delusion
of continuity is in fact micro seconds
of burts of neurons. We are not even
conscious !

We perceive the fist, but not
the hand.

Consciousness is a belief. It
does not exist.

Consciousness is a term we use
to describe the delusion of
continuity.

How can consciousness survive death,
when we never even had any ?

And, Mother Nature herself is
in a coma ?

It appears we are a silk scarf,
that has blown down over the thorns
...... of a rose bush.

We indeed do exist. But, we
are the butterflies of
intemporality.

Truly, once you die you would also lose all of your senses. In theory you might infer that without senses you will lack perception. And without perception you wouldn't truly be aware of anything, no emotions or memories to recall on. That's not to say there isn't life after death, no one can answer that question. As it stands there is no way to test this but the matter shouldn't be ignored, it needs to be solved. Essentially, humans fear what they don't know or can't see. Possibly, the answer may be found by solving the formation of the known universe. There are several theories but until it's a law no one can truly accept it.

Hi Louis,

Agree with you. there is much unknown
and I have seen things I definitely
cannot explain in my journey.

You know Yagananda's group claimed his
body was incorruptible after death. It
turned out they blacked out the portion from
the cemetary stating his body was embalmed.

Later they took out his vault a few years
back to see if he was a genuine incorruptible.
He must not have been, as Yogananda group
keep the results secret.

But, the other night, I spent about 6 hours
investigating the incorruptible bodies of
the Catholic Saints.

St. Bernedette was the most intriging. She
was the little girl whom saw the Virgin Mary
in the grotto and movies were made about it.

People don't usually know she is one of the
incorruptible Saints. Her body did not
decompose and rests in display at Lourdes.

I read the doctors reports as they dug up her
grave every twenty years or so. Remarkable.

Here is You Tube video of Saint Bernedette
lying in state..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5711hI04mw&feature=related

cognate/= exsistance quid per ergo sum
you esist
you cognate
ergo you are
all else is redundant

Brian, what you described is exactly what happened to me three times. It is not a fear of death or wondering what God is or philosophical questioning about why we're here. It is the feeling, knowledge, that nothing is here. It is the scariest thing I've ever experienced. It happened to me at night and I kept myself awake all night the first time to ensure that everything wouldn't disappear. The next time I paced the floor, telling myself that I want to stay in this existence and not to let it disappear, until the feeling, the knowledge, went away. The third time the logic of nonexistence kept occuring to me and I felt it threatening the existence of everything, and I pulled out a puzzle book to distract me from that logic. I thought I was the only one in the world who had this feeling. My family thinks I might be too stressed or have some kind of brain disease or something. Maybe so, or maybe "all you all" are a figment of my imagination. Just a while ago I could feel it coming on again and I tried to distract myself with television and then looked online and accidently found this site. I don't know if I feel better that others have the same feeling; it either means we are really not here and I'm all alone in a dark place and I made this existence up to entertain myself, or we have some kind of mental condition.

Genie, what you describe seems a bit different from my experience. You feel a sense of "nothing" in the here and now, apparently. I feel it when I envision myself not existing as anything forever, after death.

But maybe the feeling is much the same. It's just how we try to describe the indescribable feeling.

Regardless... you aren't alone. Others, including me, have felt much like you do. I've written quite a few posts about "nothing." Some might resonate with you.
http://goo.gl/RyVlt

You also might find Jack Haas' "Way of Wonder" to be of interest. This is a book that could give you another way of looking upon the "nothing" you sense in the world. Lots of mystics, poets, philosophers, and others have seen this nothing as marvelous Mystery -- which puts a different slant on it.

See:
http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2010/09/wonder-the-sole-essential-of-spirituality.html

I just got another Haas book, "The Dream of Being." This morning I came across a passage that made me think of your comment:

"What is it you seek anyway? To hold a truth within you? But perhaps the only truth is the uncomfortable emptiness which lies so irrefutably inside of you. And if poor you should choose to fill that honest vacancy, then your only truth will not be true, and, instead of being empty, you will be full of lies."

So don't deny what you feel. Don't rush to fill that truth of "nothing" with a fake sense of "something." Yes, truth can be uncomfortable. But the way I see it, it's better to embrace that truth, passing through it, then to shy away from it.

I've had depersonalization/derealization disorder for 6 years and I feel like I don't exist 24/7. It's terrifying.

Sorana, I'm not familiar with the disorder you have. It sounds decidedly unpleasant. I hope you succeed in finding a way to deal with it.

I'm not sure what you mean by "feel like I don't exist." Well, I sort of understand. Maybe. In my late teens I used to feel like I was going through life while watching myself from the outside, so to speak.

Meaning, I felt like I was watching myself do things. It was unsettling. Hard to be spontaneous or "yourself" when you don't feel like you are your self -- if that makes any sense.

Don't know if this is anything close to what you're experiencing. After a few years I stopped feeling that way, which was a relief.

Being without a self is very Buddhist, very Zen. It's a desirable thing, since most of our problems arise from feeling that we are someone/something separate and distinct from the world. But what you feel sounds quite different.

Hopefully you're getting help from someone. Counseling, treatment, therapy... whatever. We all need to lean on someone.

Sorana,

You probably are in need of B vitamins. you may have a dangerously low B-1 deficiency. this is called "wernicke's enchaphalopathy" which can also then become "korsakoff's syndrome".

This is a very very serious condition that can easily result in coma and death.

If i were you, i would immediately start taking at least 400 to 600 milligrams of B-1 per day, for a month. and then drop down to about 200 - 300 mgs per day for another few months. you should also take two or three 50mg to 100mg complete B-complex per day.

You should also immediately go to a medical doctor and get your B-1 level tested. thats because you may need actually to go to a hospital and get an emergency super high-level "infusion" of B-1. they will give it to you through an IV (intervenous). it takes an hour or two.

You may be dangerously low in B viatamins. the symptoms that you have - feeling like you don't exist - that is one of the symptoms of Wernicke/Korsakoff syndrome.

Until you get tested, you don't know. and even if your B-1 level is alrigjht, you still should take one or two 50 to 100 miligrams B-complex per day. this will help your nerves and make you feel much more grounded.

Don't mess around and delay. you may be in very serious danger. you could go into a coma at anytime. and once you go into coma, it is unlikely that you will return to consciousness. it is irreversible once it gets that far.

So go see a doctor and get tested immediately. but you should also immediately start taking lots of B-1 and B-complex on your own. you can get them in any pharmacy or health-food store.

Good luck.


Tao is right, a lot of people have Vitamin B decencies, especially B12, the idiot government and fda have brainwashed us into using the wrong Vitamin b12.

VITAMIN B12 METHYLCOBLAMIN is the correct one, this is suitable for humans.

Vitamin B12 is essential, if this is amiss it can cause anxiety,and problems related to the brain.

Also do the pran mudra, this helps correct all vitamin defencies.

Best of luck, let us know how you get on

God bless
Gaz

Oh Gazz really thank you for remember me of pran mudra,thanks,man

I'm 35 and today was reading another forum where people were discussing their experiences with death and being resuscitated. The very vivid descriptions of the black, emptiness, nothingness struck me very hard. The more I read, the worse it got, until I began to get light-headed and felt queasy.

I began to walk away from the computer feeling like I could throw up at any moment. I sat down trying to regain my balance, and for several minutes I had a cold sweat all over. It slowly passed.

It was as if the idea--the thoughts, the mental struggle to relate to what they went through--struck a very primal fear of non-existence within me.

It is hard to describe just how powerful and overwhelming this was for me. I've fainted before. I've taken some hard drugs before. Have had loved ones pass. Even the time I experienced a full blown maniac episode where I lost complete control of my mental faculties wasn't deeply horrifying as what I experienced today.

So searching online led me hear. It is nice to hear others' thoughts on it. I especially enjoyed the email to Adam posted by Brian on July 16, 2009 at 03:59 PM. You may consider adding that to the original entry as an update, or as a new blog entry itself with a link in this entry to it.

I'd like to add too that I am a Christian. And my understanding of death and the afterlife from my study of the Bible is this:

1) We live;
2) We die and go to the Grave (Sheol in Hebrew, Hades in Greek);
3) At some point in the future (on the Day of Resurrection) all the righteous are called out of the grave and ascend to heaven. The rest cease to be.

Even though I believe this, and the idea of a temporary non-existence fits perfectly with this, for some reason reading those experiences tapped into something very primal within me. It is hard to describe. Although I would die before I rescinded my faith, exploring this notion of non-existence hits me in a way that defies reason and my ability to handle it. In other words, even though it was in sync with my religious beliefs, it didn't matter.

So after reading all these comments and thinking about how to deal with this in the future should it come up again, I've decided to take the coward's approach: Don't let my mind wander the dangerous paths. Do everything I can to not think about it. If I feel myself headed that way I'll read a book, start a banal conversation with a stranger, start counting by prime numbers, put on my favorite song, pick up something in front of me and start examining in great detail, anything.

I find comfort in that all of us here experience this feeling. I wrote an article on my website about it. It's called The Strength In Fear
http://persistentvisionmedia.com/2014/02/21/the-strength-in-fear/

Here is an excerpt from it:
"Let me describe this feeling. It is an utterly helpless, panicked, desperate feeling that makes you feel shaky and the worst kind of uncertainty. The fear churns like a popcorn machine and spreads throughout your body, continuously shifting so it constantly feels new as if you’re experiencing this feeling for the first time over and over again in quick succession. There is no other moment where I’ve felt more scared, small, and insignificant. It is the ultimate feeling of hopelessness.

I sought to get rid of feeling this way, if only temporarily. I searched for websites acknowledging and discussing this topic. I come across an article of someone who described this fear just as I have and the myriad of comments that followed from others who felt the same way. I read through many of the responses and found solace in some of the answers. As the feeling started to subside a little, the disturbing fact that we can never know for sure what happens upon death until it’s happening takes a permanent seat."

Give it a read. It may help. I hope it does. And if it does, please leave me a note saying that it did. =]

Cindi, thanks for sharing the link to your post. I just left this comment on your blog/site:
--------------------
Cindi, I enjoyed reading your post. I also have experienced what I call the "primal fear of non-existence." You described your own experience well. It's a very personal thing, how this fear feels, and how we deal with it.

I've been finding that as I've grown older (I'm 65 now) the fear has subsided. I don't take myself as seriously now, in part because after a bunch of neuroscience book reading, and simply living, I no longer believe that I am, or have, a self.

I'm just part of the universe, a bit of life that the cosmos has cast up with the aid of billions of years of evolution here on Earth. Life will continue after I die. Since both science and some forms of spirituality (Buddhism, for instance) tell me that I don't have a separate distinct self, there really never has been anything for me to lose at death.

The fear of death is natural, for sure. Living beings wouldn't survive long enough to reproduce without it. But seemingly only us humans have enough of an abstract and introspective ability to be aware that one day we won't exist anymore. Whether this is evolution or devolution from the standpoint of happiness, I'm unsure. Often my dog seems happier than I am, lacking the sort of anxiety about the future that I have.

Regardless, I've come to feel that the more I can accept the fact that I'm nothing but an integral part of life, a twig of the tree of life that will break off and die one day while the tree lives on, the less I fear the notion of non-existence. This may be similar to how you feel. Or not.

Like I said, we all grapple with life and death in different ways. Thanks for sharing your way.
-- Brian

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NQ5KBzD8w0

Yes I have felt this too. And it is not due to my disbelief in a god or lack of speculation into an ultimate reality; I am a Christian. But Christians do not escape the roller coaster of our frail human existences more so than someone who chooses to believe something contrary. But I would like to share a thought.

Whenever I experience the sensation (though this term does not fully sum it up) of pondering non-existence in the face of a prospective lack of eternal security, I ask one more question. And just one more. "where is my faith? I usually do this after crying and feeling a gaping hole in my chest which I cannot explain; sort of like a vacuum.

I do not have enough time to go into terrific detail but I would love to take the liberty and extend to everybody the notion that every one's 'existence' only gains its feeling warrant on assertions of faith. I have faith that my car will start when I am late for work; I have faith that the food I eat is perfectly safe; I have faith that my girlfriend loves me as much as I, sometimes insecurely, love her. And it is not because I am ignorant that I, and we, make these faith assertions; rather it is because we are informed. And every worldview requires a statement of faith. To not believe in an afterlife is inversely to believe in a lack of afterlife. To not believe in a God is inversely to believe in nothingness.

Jesus Christ says in the Gospel of Matther, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (11:28). And I too say to you, and myself, that all questioning needs one further question, "where is my faith?"

It takes just as much faith to believe in nothingness as it does to believe in Christ. Do your research well; question all that surrounds the resurrection of a Jewish man in the first century; do not be ignorant. But further may I say, do not be ignorant to Him, Jesus Christ, who is not ignorant of you. Do not be scared of nothingness when there is a person ready to comfort you in your fear of His lack of existence. Truth invites questioning.

It takes just as much faith to believe in nothingness as it does to believe in Christ.

Nonsense. It takes no faith at all to acknowledge the greater likelihood that death is the end, non-existence, or "nothingness", as you put it; that Christ and all the rest of it is just comforting twaddle for the feeble mind and the faint of heart.

I too have felt the feeling of non existence, it started about 2 yrs. ago and i have experienced it about a dozen times. Most of the experiences for some reason are in the shower until recently I had one on a vacation visiting family and i had to turn away from everybody. the experience only last a few seconds, but seems for minutes. The feeling is nothingness, a paralysis of your inner being and organs, there is no feeling of existence around you as well. Scary, it takes a few to get back in control. I wish I could understand it.

Ughhh I know exactly how you feel (or felt when you wrote this). You describe it so accurately. I think it doesn't help that I am a logical problem solver and it's the one thing I know I can't solve. No matter what I do, how hard I work at it, no matter how much money I make, I am not able to get around it. One day I will die and it will be the end....forever. It makes life seem precious and pointless all at the same time. I have suffered with this since I was 6 and I used to jump in my mothers bed at night in tears shaking uncontrollably. She couldn't understand why a 6 year old would be having such thoughts. I couldn't understand why everyone wasn't having these thoughts. I don't think I have ever met anyone who is as terrified or perceives non existence as deeply as I feel I do. I still don't understand why it doesn't make other people sick to their core when thinking about it. Not death itself (I'm not particularly risk adverse) just the non existence bit (no point in being risk adverse if you fear non existence because it's coming for you anyway, it not about when it's about the inevitability). I have tried to implement a self behavioural therapy where I just have to say "no" to myself as soon as I feel the thought coming over me, usually at bedtime although sometimes when I'm watching a film where death is dealt with in a particular way. I have to force myself to break the thought and think of something else. I now manage to about 80% of the time and i have also noticed the frequency of the thoughts have reduced, maybe to 4-8 times a year but once or twice a year it takes me over until I fall asleep from crying. I think about trying to improve my coping mechanism and then I think "what's the point because that's not going to solve the real problem, because it can't be solved". Sorry for such a negative post but I think anyone who gets how you feel (like really gets it) will also think anything you can do is just superficial because at the end of the day the fear of not existing makes everything else seem superficial when you are in that place.

I found this post by chance and felt that I had finally found others that felt the same things I had felt. I have always considered myself a deep thinker but never really understood why my thoughts went there, into the fear of not existing. Still don't really understand it, just try to keep a positive outlook and try not to let myself get into that frame of mind. Having lost my mom in 2010 and with her being cremated, it really gets to me worse at times. I look at her picture and I know she was here because after all, I am here. But when I allow my mind to go there, I get sad, depressed and just a feeling of despondency. Then I pull myself up by my bootstraps so to speak and ask myself, you are here now, so why are you worrying about something that is inevitable and that you have no control over anyway. The best thing I have found for me is to try to be completely in the present in my life and experience each day to the fullest possible extent. I am 55 years old and have arthritis that makes each day difficult. So I really don't think that even if I could live forever, would I want to in this body. The answer is probably not. So back to the question, what am I worried about. My Christian belief tells me to trust in God and that when my time comes, I will be given the answers to all of my questions. In the meantime, I am just going to try to love and live life to the fullest.

Like you, OP, I have experienced the primal fear of Not-Being. Both when I was younger, like you said, often when falling asleep. But it stopped happening when I was going to sleep, eventually entirely. I stopped feeling it because I stopped experiencing and then thinking about it.

But eventually, in my learnings of philosophy, I decided, forgetting my old fear, to think about what it would be like to Not Be. And all of a sudden that Primal Fear was on me again. You described it rather well, it was like there was a curtain, a Veil if you will, and behind that Veil, was Not-Being, and everything about what it is like to Not Be after having Been. And when I contemplated non-existence after death, the Veil was lifted, just the corner. And it was bad. It was really bad. I had bad dreams. So I stopped thinking about it again.

But eventually, like before, I returned to the concept. I wanted to see if I could induce the feeling of Not Being, like when the Veil was slightly lifted. At the time, I was doing a lot of tests on myself on what the brain could really do, what it was capable of. Unlike you, I was, and still am, able to, at any given moment, induce the feeling of Not-Being. And the first time I did it purposefully, the Veil wasn't just lifted up a bit at the corner.

The whole fucking thing was destroyed. The Veil itself Stopped Being.

And it was god. Damned. TERRIFYING.

This part requires a bit of backstory. I have always suffered from major depression. The Majorly-large, life-affecting kind. There, back story over.

Knowing THAT, this next part might make sense, if you have had or live with Depression.

That feeling you get when you are so miserable you want to kill yourself. That feeling that there is nothing left for you, which makes you want to die. It's hard to describe. But with the Veil fully gone, I had that feeling, only dying would make my fears (possibly, as no one yet has provided proof of what happens after death) actually come true, which made that feeling I had worse, made me want to Not Be so I wouldn't experience this feeling anymore, which created a viscous downward cycle, all while the Veil was still gone.

I had the worst panic attack of my life then. I barely managed to pull back from it, create my own veil, and isolate myself from that feeling. The Veil, the real one hiding the knowledge of what Not Being is really like from me, it never came back. All I have is a pale imitation of it. I have learned to be very, Very, VERY good at not thinking about it too much, even while talking about it. I have essentially had to create another Self with access to my memories, to do that Feeling for me, and they are the one Feeling while I write this.

This fear of Non Existence, is my largest and last remaining Phobia. I have other fears, and used to have over ten full force phobia's, but I'm what's referred to as a counterphobe. I faced all my phobias, like a counterphobe does, one at a time, and eventually got rid of ALL of them. Except this last one, and I can't even begin to face it. I lose more of my sanity every time I try. So I stopped trying.

Now, Timelessness is something that breaks my brain equally as Not Being. But slowly I am learning more about it's true nature, and unlike with Not Being, Timelessness does not make me fear. It hurts my head to think about, but there is no fear. For which I am grateful. With a brain as science and logic-oriented as mine, I like to think about things like this, but need to find ways to do so without the fear. Hence Timelessness.

I'm rambling at this point, So I'll stop here.

I had what I call a "mystical experience" more than fifty years ago. There were many aspects to it, but the one relevant to the topic of non existence was: I was standing in the dining room and everything disappeared, even me. There was total blackness. Obviously there was "my awareness" also. Then in the blackness a spark of light appeared and slowly inscribed a circle with the energetic qualities of the ying yang symbol. Just as suddenly as the darkness appeared, it disappeared, and I and the dining room returned. I took a few steps and everything disappeared again. This time the spark extended a horizontal line simultaneously right and left. When the line became so thin, the light disappeared and the dining room and I came back into existence. I knew my consciousness was very far out, and I had to get it focused back in this reality. I told my husband we were going to give a party for 100 people so that I would be forced to focus my consciousness here in preparation for the party. It worked and I have never left this plane since, except perhaps in sleep; which I only sense but do not specifically remember.

I have from time to time experienced the same dark, haunting realisation that you have and it's crippled my thoughts and wellbeing for years. You're not alone.

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