« Live as a river -- fluid, dynamic, interconnected | Main | Thinking and meditation go hand in hand »

March 18, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I got to think about this question in real-time, 22 years ago.

I was captured and held at gunpoint (machine gun point, to be exact), during the Tien An Men Square demonstration. Six soldiers (kids who were scared to death, jacked up on amphetamines, and using Russian machine guns that looked like they'd fire if you breathed wrong) were deciding which one was going to shoot me.

I didn't try to create my last thought, since I had no idea when they would pull the trigger.

But from the time I was captured, over and over, I thought, "Well, if the Buddha was right and my last thought determines my next rebirth... I hope I get a good one."

The other thought I kept having was, "I just want to KNOW that I'm dying... just for a moment... rather than be snuffed out."

I no longer believe in the "last thought/rebirth" idea, nor am I so self-aggrandizing that I think my death will be unlike the majority (which are not neat and pretty and don't involve awareness of a last thought).

It seems that I have spent my entire life trying to figure out what my own "last thought" might be. Going even further - my life seems to be a resistive gesture against an energetic process which is inevitable and entirely beyond comprehension. I have tentatively concluded that my thoughts are simply irrelevant. That does not halt the thinking process, however. As I live, I tend to make the assumption that thinking will actually cease when this body ceases to function.

I am a Japanese man, living in Hiroshima. I am at ground zero in the center of the city. The Enola Gay is just moments away from releasing the atomic bomb.
The bomb detonates. Do I notice a bright, blinding flash of light? What if I do? Do things get awfully hot? Are my brain and nerves vaporized before any sensations can occur? What does that mean? Do I have a last thought? Did I ever exist?

What's the difference between vaporizing in less than a second and vaporizing over decades in a coffin?

Hmmmmmm....to be continued. Or not?

We will not when we are dead.Just like we do not know when we are born.NO before or after.We only know now.And,what we know now while alive is what exactly?

We will not know when we are dead,just like we do not know when we are born.We only know now,while we are alive.And what do we know now in this moment,what is it exactly?

Willie R, I agree that one's last thought is pretty much meaningless -- the actual last thought, at least.

What I find meaningful is how I think about my last thought now, while I'm alive with a good prospect of continuing to live for quite a while longer.

Thinking about my last thought points me in the direction of what sorts of thoughts I'd like to have before that final one. This clues me in to whether I'm living my favored sort of life, or gotten stuck in an unchosen habitual sort of life.

So you're the guy who sits in the cafe for hours with the laptop....

I want my last thought to be, "I did everything that I wanted to do." Initially I scratched my head at this question, but you're right, it is meaningful to think about it while we're alive. And thinking about it makes me realize that if I don't do everything I want to do in life, I won't be able to think that last thought, will I!

Karl - it sounds like you are assuming that you are going to live long enough to actually accomplish your brain's "to do" list, and that your brain is simply going to capitulate and stop making plans. Good luck with that!

Blogger Brian - while, statistically, you actually do have a very good prospect of living quite a bit longer, you mentioned in your HinesSight blog that the Japan nuke reactor situation made you order iodine tablets, just in case.
You can be sure that, when you are an octogenarian (spelling?), you are going to feel the same way about situations that can affect your survival. Long-term survival, I must remind all and sundry, is not a cure for death.

Willie R - you are an asshole. Oh wait - that's me! Too bad for me - I'm still an asshole.

And the answer is....The fact of our own being !And I disappear in a poof of nonduality....lol Thanks Suki., I wish it was that easy

Hi Brian,
Thanks for this post. I've been reading your blog since 2007, and it has become like a good friend, something I keep returning to. Before reading this post I had just been thinking about how I was grateful for your blog, and how as an American who dabbles in meditation, etc. your perspective has reflected so much of my own back to me.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.