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February 21st, 2010

Neat. Weird, but neat.

An atheist friend of mine revealed in a conversation that she doesn't fear death. She has no wish to die, but no particular concern about death if it happens. We ran into a roadblock in our conversation, which was basically:

Her: "I can't begin to comprehend the idea of non-existence being something to fear. How can you fear literally nothing?"
Me: "How do you NOT fear ceasing to exist?"

Basically, it was one of those things that brings about a brick wall in my mind; one of those things I am so utterly incapable of comprehending that there is nothing but a huge wall in my vision when I come across ideas like that. Sometimes the wall in my mind is just an obstacle to try to find a way around. In other cases, like this one, I find the wall to go into both horizons and up into the clouds. I believe she means it when she says she doesn't fear death, but a part of me keeps shouting, "IMPOSSIBLE! Nobody could possibly think that way!!!" Not exactly a new experience to me; I've run across ideas, beliefs, etc in other people that provoked a far more "IMPOSSIBLE!!!" reaction out of me than this did. I at least understand the abstract of this. Some beliefs I've run across in my time I don't even think about if I can because it would just give me a literal headache, caught in circles of trying to comprehend what - to me - is incomprehensible.

But it got me to thinking... Lilla has said before that she thinks sometimes atheists are here in life to teach us lessons they couldn't teach if they were believers. And it strikes me that having no fear of death itself could be seen as an extremely enlightened position. That life is for living, not for worrying about death. A lesson I doubt she could teach as effectively if she believed in life after death.

I would like to be able to do that, but that fear that death might really be nothingness is always there in the back of my mind. I lock that part of my mind up as much as I can, because whenever I touch it even briefly, I nearly wet myself from terror. As much suffering as I've been through and will probably continue to go through, I find it immeasurably better than the alternative, if the alternative is ceasing to exist.

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