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Glaukus

The death thread

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Sorry if this upsets anyone's sensibilities, but I've been thinking about this a lot in the last few days.

 

We are all going to die at some point. We probably all have different views on what happens to us after death.

 

I'm interested in the topic of pre-death rituals, and the treatment of our bodies in this thread mostly, but happy for it to be a more generalised place for people to post about anything related to the topic.

 

Pretty much all religions of the world have some form of "last rites", and a proscription of what to do with the body. Mostly this involves burial or cremation.

Personally, I don't think I want to be buried, I have various reasons for that. I think I'd like to be cremated and my ashes sent out on the waves. Maybe that's asking for trouble, the ocean is restless, in constant motion. Does that sound like eternal peace? I don't know. I do take solace from the ocean, it is always in my consciousness, I don't think I could live away from it. 

 

But what about pre-death? I guess if life is taken suddenly and without warning, there's not much you can do to prepare.

 

What do you have in mind as your own "last rites"?

 

This one might be the most important thing to put thought into. So many people end up in a hospital deathbed, and at that point, decision making is taken away from the dying. This is a tragedy. My father in law laid dying in hospital, and said he just wanted one last beer. Nobody took this request seriously, and I don't think I'll forgive myself for not running out and getting him one. I mean, FFS, what is the worst that could have happened? He was literally about to die. 

 

What happens to me if I shun the last rites of the religion I was raised in? A broken circle is never usually a good thing. But I don't want to be treated as one of the flock, I'm not a sheep. Do I need to renounce the religion beforehand to close that loop?

 

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Wow excellent and honest post... Thanks for that. 

 

Indeed many people dont seem to take the last moments of a person that is about to die very seriously - rather they think its about them.  The seriously sick are often treated like infants or a delusional. So sad. I really think these are some seriously important moments. But it's a cultural thing.. I think it really varies from culture to culture...  And then you have the euthanasia thing.. So cruel that its illegal in almost every country. 

 

I think christian funerals and the whole rituals around them are overly sad and mostly defeatist - the more traditional and folk-like the rituals (f.e. in villages and smaller communities), the more suiting to the occasion, less formal  - more authentic , I think. I feel most funerals, except perhaps those of very young people, should be celebrations, maybe with a bitter sweet flavour, a party even.  But that would require a cultural shift. 

 

I too would like my body to burn. It has recently become an option in greece, or its about there, not sure.  I think cemeteries are very interesting places though.. Especially small village cemeteries out in nature, in more remotel places. I am not ashamed to admit I like walks in cemeteries lots more that most people would perceive as 'normal'. 

 

This "last moments before death" thing reveals another aspect of the whole thing. I dont think that anything happens after you die. Well, other people hapen. After the death, it really falls on other people. Like Epicurus said,  rationalising it doesnt really makse sense to fear of death, because  "when we are alive he is not there, and when he comes, we are not there" .  So we never meet death.  One could say death doesnt exist. Its only life that ceaces to be. 

 

I especially like your last questions. I have been an atheist since ~12 years old. I am ~41 now. From my experience, its really cool to live without any religion. There's more freedom, more questions to answer and wonder about. Its a more open approach to life. Its a more individualistic approach to life.  Maybe the individual point of view is lots more important than any "collective cosciousness" mumbo jumbo, which to be honest is a construct.. What is the collective consciousness? Some concept Yung came up with, BECAUSE HE WAS RELIGIOUS.  

 

So, yeah, I think that for some people it's very beneficial to break through the circle, denounce the 'religion'. Religion and much if not most of the existential awe is directly or inderectly linked with fear of death. If you dont want to feel like a member of the flock the FIRST and most important step is to completely get rid of your childhood religion and all the ethics that come along.  

 

There are tons of stuff to replace that former religious spirituality with. To stick with the childhood religion seems like a missed opportunity to me, but hey, it works for some people. Most people are not like me.  Even a big number of atheists and especially modern atheists and neo-atheists replace religion with scientifism.  Scientifism is their spiritual kick and their dogma.  

 

PS:  personal fave "last rites"  totally depends on circumstances.. you would have to die in a peaceful way to be able to succed in planning any last rites, which is something you cant know.. What you can do is "prepare" for it, by not shying away from it.  

PS2: Euthanasia being legal would definately allow people more freedom of how and when they die (including last rituals), which is propably why it's such a big tabboo and illegal.. All systems of opression and human manipulation are based on religion/religious type of thought  and the fear of death. If you make euthanasia legal, you empower people. 

Edited by sagiXsagi
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On 29/04/2020 at 2:19 PM, Glaukus said:

What happens to me if I shun the last rites of the religion I was raised in? A broken circle is never usually a good thing. But I don't want to be treated as one of the flock, I'm not a sheep. Do I need to renounce the religion beforehand to close that loop?

 

I too am no sheep and was raised a catholic. Since my late teens I have struggled to free myself from religion and church. But I am not an atheist.

Despite all my efforts, I have come to realise that all the exposure I have had to religion and spirituality since birth are like an interlocking pattern that forms the floor on which I walk. I can take it apart and peer through it like an Escher drawing or walk away from it. I have spent my life doing this and yet there is still this path. It is not a matter of belief but an experiential fact. I can't destroy it. But I can choose to learn from it.

In a recent "holotropic" experience I became increasingly distracted by the sun nestled behind tree tops. This distraction became a focus which turned into a growing sense of anxiety as I realised the sun was god and he was calling me away to die. Basically, I panicked until I resolved to go. I left everything "as is" and walked into the bush toward the sun. As I walked closer to him, he seemed further away. The space between us was an ocean of peace and serenity. In this space I became aware of infinite beings moving around of their own free will. They communicated to me that I was once an infinite being but had chosen the ways of death. I chose to be incarnated to satisfy my own selfish desires. I was of low intelligence and this earthly existence was my karmic reward. My mind was filled with all the suffering and pain I had caused others throughout my life. I ended up on the ground, dragging my hands through the sticks and leaves and dirt in despair and frustration. I was overwhelmed with guilt, devastated by the strength of this comprehensive conviction.

This experience taught me that we all play a part in our own death. Whether it be the alcoholic who drinks his way to death or the innocent victim of a tragic accident, merely going about their daily life who is unexpectedly taken. We are all making choices and decisions, doing certain things and not doing others, right up to our last moments. There can be no blame here. It just doesn't work that way. How do you feel about how you have lived your life so far, knowing that death is just around the corner?

The extraordinary guilt of this experience broke me down, and then some. But no one can function under this sort of damnation, much less in a healthy way. 

The profound influences of religion are obvious here. And yet they are in no way an absolute truth of any sort. They are more like teachings which you only learn from when you experience them. I wouldn't bet everything I have on the reality of reincarnation or karma or that I am going to hell for my wrong doing, but I can appreciate the value of these teachings to some degree. And I accept that I had this experience because these teachings are relevant to me at this time. I have an opportunity to learn from it if I choose to. And isn't that the whole point?

Having set myself against religion has made no difference to the meaning and value it has for me. I don't have to go to church to learn its teachings. But I would be a fool to reject those teachings simply because I don't want to go to church.

@Glaukus What happens to you if you shun the last rites of the religion you were raised in? You will die, never the less. From one who has tried, the results can be mixed. I wish you well with this. As one who has gone through the excruciating pain of church being divided by family and family being divided by church, I would say that the most important thing about this "circle" is that your family and your own well being should always come first. If you are not a sheep, then you have no need of the flock and they have no need of you. You can only do what you think is best. So long as you are right with your loved ones and within yourself then you have lived well. And if you have lived well, then you can die well.

 

Please don't take anything I have said to be judgemental or to be commenting on you and your path. Your post caught my attention and resonated with me.

 

Respect. 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, acasshia said:

 

I too am no sheep and was raised a catholic. Since my late teens I have struggled to free myself from religion and church. But I am not an atheist.

Despite all my efforts, I have come to realise that all the exposure I have had to religion and spirituality since birth are like an interlocking pattern that forms the floor on which I walk. I can take it apart and peer through it like an Escher drawing or walk away from it. I have spent my life doing this and yet there is still this path. It is not a matter of belief but an experiential fact. I can't destroy it. But I can choose to learn from it.

In a recent "holotropic" experience I became increasingly distracted by the sun nestled behind tree tops. This distraction became a focus which turned into a growing sense of anxiety as I realised the sun was god and he was calling me away to die. Basically, I panicked until I resolved to go. I left everything "as is" and walked into the bush toward the sun. As I walked closer to him, he seemed further away. The space between us was an ocean of peace and serenity. In this space I became aware of infinite beings moving around of their own free will. They communicated to me that I was once an infinite being but had chosen the ways of death. I chose to be incarnated to satisfy my own selfish desires. I was of low intelligence and this earthly existence was my karmic reward. My mind was filled with all the suffering and pain I had caused others throughout my life. I ended up on the ground, dragging my hands through the sticks and leaves and dirt in despair and frustration. I was overwhelmed with guilt, devastated by the strength of this comprehensive conviction.

This experience taught me that we all play a part in our own death. Whether it be the alcoholic who drinks his way to death or the innocent victim of a tragic accident, merely going about their daily life who is unexpectedly taken. We are all making choices and decisions, doing certain things and not doing others, right up to our last moments. There can be no blame here. It just doesn't work that way. How do you feel about how you have lived your life so far, knowing that death is just around the corner?

The extraordinary guilt of this experience broke me down, and then some. But no one can function under this sort of damnation, much less in a healthy way. 

The profound influences of religion are obvious here. And yet they are in no way an absolute truth of any sort. They are more like teachings which you only learn from when you experience them. I wouldn't bet everything I have on the reality of reincarnation or karma or that I am going to hell for my wrong doing, but I can appreciate the value of these teachings to some degree. And I accept that I had this experience because these teachings are relevant to me at this time. I have an opportunity to learn from it if I choose to. And isn't that the whole point?

Having set myself against religion has made no difference to the meaning and value it has for me. I don't have to go to church to learn its teachings. But I would be a fool to reject those teachings simply because I don't want to go to church.

@Glaukus What happens to you if you shun the last rites of the religion you were raised in? You will die, never the less. From one who has tried, the results can be mixed. I wish you well with this. As one who has gone through the excruciating pain of church being divided by family and family being divided by church, I would say that the most important thing about this "circle" is that your family and your own well being should always come first. If you are not a sheep, then you have no need of the flock and they have no need of you. You can only do what you think is best. So long as you are right with your loved ones and within yourself then you have lived well. And if you have lived well, then you can die well.

 

Please don't take anything I have said to be judgemental or to be commenting on you and your path. Your post caught my attention and resonated with me.

 

Respect. 

 

 

 

Thanks for your beautifully written and thoughtful response. I will re-read it a little later when I'm more awake. 

I think in the last 6 months I've made significant progress in regards to my thinking on this topic but I'll wait until the words are clearer in my mind before I attempt to articulate them.

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wow what a wonderful post! I cant help but think that this guilt is totally un-natural, its engraved to minds from christian religion. religions are just that in their most basic form: they take advantage of peoples awe for death, they manipulate it and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy (and propably transform all this into some kind of neurosis) 

 

on another note, I recently found this amazing   "death activist" mortician, she has a youtube channel which deals with several death matters in a very positive way, with some humour thrown in... all in all,  its very true that our societies "death rites" and customs in regards with death has made us more in awe,  more fearful and more in embarassment in front of other peoples death. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caitlin_Doughty

 

I am saying others people death, because thats what there is  to fear.. Our own death is not that terrifing

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