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Death, Matters of the Spirit

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust…..Says Who?

As a child I remember the first time I earnestly pondered death; I lay quietly in my room one night, trying to imagine nothingness. Earlier, at a dinner party, my parents and friends had been engaged in a sombre alcohol-induced discussion about God, Death and the meaning of Life, and I’d listened in the shadows with rapt attention. Before this moment, based on what I’d  previously been told (or should I say, ominously warned), I’d had an image in my head that once I was dead, I’d be sort of ‘arrested’ by angels, be thrust in front of God and be judged against my sins. Once the verdict was out, I’d be carted off to either heaven or hell. That scenario, however intimidating, indicated that I lived on after my body died.  This evening, though, I’d heard mention of ashes and dust. This was a new idea to me, the concept that once we pass, there is nothing else. To die meant to become nothing at all. The subject brought a black cloud of doom over a previously upbeat party atmosphere as a colleague of my father’s declared glumly, ‘That’s all that happens, we dissolve into the nothingness. Its ashes to ashes, dust to dust – we’re dead, finished, it’s all over. Human life has about as much significance as a squashed bug.’

Intrigued as always by these adult metaphysical conversations, I just had to test out this new idea. It put a question mark over my own private investigations into the God quandary. If we dissolved into the ‘nothingness’, then there was no God. If this ashes to ashes thing turned out to be true, it would be an answer to all my religious questions; it would put the lid on my fervent inquiries. Eager to get to the truth, I lay there, contemplating nothing at all.

Nothingness, to exist, had to be thought about; to make it a reality, I had to give it dimensions. It was a kind of black void that had a place ‘somewhere’ in the universe, somewhere ‘between things’. If nothingness was ‘real’, I figured that it couldn’t have any dimensions at all, no blackness, no void, no somewhere to ‘exist’. If nothingness was to exist, it couldn’t really be nothingness.

Many a night, I stared out at the sky through my open bedroom window at the stars sparkling in the so-called black void of space. I realised that people always said that nothingness existed between those stars. It was space, after all, and space, as the scientists would have it, was a vacuum, and contained nothing at all.  It was no wonder that we had developed the idea that nothingness could be a reality (this being a paradox in itself). On further investigation, I learned that space wasn’t nothing; it had properties that allowed it to conduct light from the stars, it carried objects like meteors and space junk (human flotsam) through space, it held planets in perfect balance; somehow ensuring that they didn’t move about and crash into one another. Space held qualities that kept objects apart from one another; space worked with the magnetic qualities of matter. Space, I learned, had properties in the same way that wood, water, fire or air had. It became very clear to me that nothingness was an illogical concept in every way. One only had to contemplate it to eradicate the notion of it.

There was no way around it.  It was a bit of a mind-boggling contemplation, but the answer was clear to me. I just couldn’t die to become nothingness. No creature on earth could die to become nothingness. My body would perish, that was for sure, but even that didn’t become nothing. Left in the ground, it decayed, it fed the daisies, it was forever moving from one state of existence to another. It was obvious to me that without my body, I would still have some sort of awareness. This meant to me that awareness was everything. It became clear to me after many hours of this kind of contemplation that the whole universe had to be aware of itself. There was no void, no space between the objects that inhabited the universe. Even subatomic particles, I later came to learn, pop up out of some field of energy and are held apart by some force not generally understood by scientists.

I had many attempts at envisioning nothingness, and always came up with the same conclusions. My personal experience as a child spoke louder than any ‘reason’ given by an adult. The idea of nothingness, I finally concluded, belonged to the lazy, to those minds that refused to think beyond what it had learned from others. I determined at a young age, through my own deductions, that Death was a transition, though what that transition looked like, I was yet to discover.

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About Yaz

Hi Everyone! Please check out my site. There you'll find a range of subjects on which I've expressed my world view. I always challenge myself and others to move out of their point of view and try seeing things from another perspective. Your point of view will always be there if you don't like mine! And I'd love to hear from you. Perhaps you'll shift something in me. This is the journey to the True Self and I love it. Lots of love to you all!

Discussion

8 thoughts on “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust…..Says Who?

  1. Wow, what an image of death. Being arrested by Angels, I don’t know if I’d be that distressed! Like, where is this jail, huh?…

    This is a great post, Yaz. Thank you 😦

    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | August 10, 2012, 4:02 pm
  2. Hmmm. I don’t see why the belief in any form of transubstantiation or perception after death is in anyway rational. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that we just become a pile of constituent atoms awaiting random recycling. Once you’re dead there are no functions capable of registering any perception, be in nothingness or non-nothingness. Maybe I’m lazy thinking that or maybe I just don’t believe in making up fact to suit my personal theory or maybe I’m just not so arrogant or fearful to think that my existence in anyway needs to be perpetuated beyond the purpose it serves (propagate the species and die) but, whatever way, I am very comfortable in having one life and it ending. Whatever. If I’m wrong, when were dead, I’ll owe you a Coke!

    Posted by Seb | August 11, 2012, 9:08 am
  3. Your words… ‘Death was a transition, though what that transition looked like, I was yet to discover’… I have always wondered, too. I like the way you wrote that.

    Posted by grannyscolorful | August 11, 2012, 1:48 pm
  4. I hope you’re right. I just discovered your blog today. I’ve been searching for blogs and sites by bereaved parents ever since my 23 year old son died suddenly 12 weeks ago. I’ve been collecting all the blogs into one site:

    http://www.scoop.it/t/grief-and-loss.

    I’ve added your blog and I plan to read back to the beginning of it. I’m interested in how you’ve learned to adjust to the loss of your son and live your life again.
    Right now, every minute feels painful beyond measure.

    Posted by SadMama | August 14, 2012, 3:58 am
  5. Lieber Gruss und schönes weekend Gislinde

    Posted by giselzitrone | August 17, 2012, 2:31 pm
  6. Do you know I absolutely raced here like a little child to plant myself in front of this post and read this with much delight! What an absolutely deeply contemplative child you were endowed with such pure insights. Oh I would have loved being your friend as a child Yaz!!! I spent many a nights thinking of such questions myself. Isn’t it so true that what we instinctively knew as spiritual truths from the depths of our hearts as children has remained unshakeable since. We journey through all the worlds of God. Birth and Death being sacred thresholds. Much love, Sharon

    Posted by aleafinspringtime | August 20, 2012, 10:54 pm
  7. Wow, Yaz–this post totally stretched my mind in the most wonderful, wonderful way. It may be the most important post I have read in a very long time. Thank you for this–your conclusions reached through clear and labored deductive reasoning are those that I have intuited without the patience to apply methodically the rigors of logic. And, the scientific discovery of the so-called “God Particle” absolutely reinforces your deductions. What a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you so much for writing it.

    Posted by erranttranscendentalist | September 1, 2012, 4:39 pm
  8. As an agnostic I’m not convinced by your reasoning which is a living person’s reasoning. However, like others I like the fact that as a child you tried to work it out for yourself. Bless her (you)!.
    The fact that matter exists at all in the universe and how it came about is still not resolved by the scientists – so you may be right. I hope so! There is so much we don’t undersand in this awesome and mysterious universe. Your blog is certainly one to follow. Thank you.

    Posted by Wyon | March 24, 2013, 12:28 pm

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