Letting Go

The last rays of the sun caressed a soft paint of a sad gold on the brave steel towers of the young city. The dark ink of the quiet night hung watchful on the opposite horizon, stealthily creeping into the space given up by the receding light. The glass and steel vertices of the craggy city center reflected glints of the fading glow through my windows, as I sat contemplating the unbearable despair of being sentenced inside my skull for the rest of my life.

Here it is all, my feverish mind croaked from the corner of the familiar damp prison-cell: look at the pastel gradient of the dusk sky, the brown winter fingers of the tree branches scratched across that easel. Look at that incredible ambitious human habitat in the distance that lunges forth into the vertical. Look at all the being and the happening and the contemplatable beautiful in the observable world. This all I have given you, this all I create for you, this is me, do you not see? What of do you complain then? The very perfection and stillness against which you judge your being to be so ill and incomplete is also born out of and crafted and witnessed by another part of that very same being. What then necessitates this constant comparison and dog-fighting part of your living experience against another? As you give away the prize to one, do you not also create the rejected rest that will moan and claw and keep heaving their pathetic languishing dying breaths in this lightless cave?

Do you not see, that it is not in fact any property of what you call the inhabitable prison of your skull, but your incessant readiness to jump to heartless rejections of the home of your living, that is the root of your psychosis? Let it go, let it all go. It is not an affliction, it is an indulgence. You are clinging to the mythic tree that you complain will not let you free. It is not an act of acquiring more, it is an act of doing and demanding less. It is here, right here, the key is in your palm, why won’t you look? There is room always to step back, opportunities always to keep unclenching that fist from the sand you wish so hard to hold on to.

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A moment with the Universe.

Starset

A sad grey twilight watches me from outside the window. Faint traces of the sun’s orange being given up to the quiet waiting blue some way up from the horizon.

How long has it been since I opened these little attics of my mind? How long since I last deemed they were of value? How long since I let the universe touch me, filling a moment? How long since I let it hold me and stare into my eyes, unhurried with questions?

Aren’t there really two ways of seeing everything? One says that the only things that matter are those detached of irrational feeling, while the other says that only how you feel about the universe is real. In the end, we are left to choose. How long has it been since I last chose the second?

Darkness now trickles closer to the horizon, chasing the last orange around the planet, leaving the city draped in beads of harsh sodium.

Isn’t it sad how it gets harder every day to see the face of the universe and contemplate its incredible existence, even for a fleeting moment? Isn’t it ironic that what is most difficult to see is the greatest encompassing truth? Is it not childish to clutter one’s fleeting time with small playthings, that have only to do with marginally extending that time? Isn’t it sad how many hurdles must be overcome, in violation of the code of compliance, to sit down with the universe for a moment of uninterrupted privacy?

Isn’t it sad how, despite knowing all this, one must chase this conditioned lunacy day after day until time runs out?

How will I be any different? It is an increasingly escaping possibility that I shall.

For now, just a moment will have to do.

Until the next time, universe. Hope to see you again. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

I am here.

The spirit of the universe was nowhere to be found
and we had charted light years of starways
through quiet dust-strewn blankets of forever dark
to find ourselves run out of road,
staring but into ancient void

There is nothing, we relayed
as we made to pull the plug
for there was nothing to stay on for

When the stardust-clad darkness gazed into us
as does a cliff into the mountaineer
breathed into our forgotten souls
and said,
I am here.

And we stood and watched,
explorers floating in deep space calm,
until I can remember no more.

Thoughts on the Universe

1.

The refusal to link our origins to ‘lesser animals’ stems from a deep-rooted, audacious pride in our species that is instilled by most religions.
The sooner we understand that the universe is not a grand entertainment arena designed for us, that there is no designer who will watch over us and tide us through our mistakes, and that His ‘plans’ are only what we cause ourselves, the closer we shall be to avert the extinction of the living, including us.
We are an insignificant, expendable product of this universe. Our role, if any, is self-assigned, and it exists in protecting our fellow life, and to continue pushing the boundaries of our inquiry. Only in that, if at all, lies our sole relevance, our final salvation.

2.

Will language decay to sms-speak? Will people forget to write? Will we become semi-cyborgs in some decades? Will religion disappear?
It doesn’t matter what you think is morally, politically, philosophically more correct. Resist change, and you will lose. For history is written by the victors, and change is always the victor.
Look up at the night sky. In the perspective of this ancient universe, there is no morality, politics or philosophy. There is only what survived. And that is the entirety of its truth, no more.
“Existence has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long.” — Rorschach, The Watchmen.

The Death of Consciousness

Up until a couple of years ago, I had a pretty strong conviction that some grand, strange things happen after we die. A sort of ultimate union with the source in which all consciousness become one and individuality and identity are lost forever. I used to imagine it as a grandiose play of bright flowing lights in a space of otherwise black nothingness.

My ideas have changed since. They may change again, and even change back, but as of now they are different. I still don’t know, of course, what really happens after we die. No one really can at the moment, but one possibility I had not considered at all sounds pretty valid to me now.

Have you ever fainted? I have never fainted, but I hear that when you come around, it’s as if you enter into light again from an unmeasured period of complete blankness. As if you had simply left for somewhere. This is different from sleep. We drift off to sleep and drift out of it. We dream in it. I don’t know about others, but I have an approximate sense of time even as I sleep. When I wake up, I can roughly tell how long I’ve been sleeping. I’m more accurate in the order of minutes, and not so much when I’ve been sleeping for hours. But at least the errors are of the same order as that of the duration of sleep. It’s like a CMOS clock that keeps ticking after you turn off your computer. So sleeping is not a complete blank, except in the special case of people with a specific brain injury that renders them incapable of dreaming. They have testified that sleeping for them is a period of complete blankness, which even causes them to always feel unrested.

What is blankness? It will undoubtedly be difficult to describe it, for our language is built with the purpose of communicating conscious experience, which blankness is the absence of. To put it simply though, a period with no conscious experience whatsoever must be a period of blankness. What is it like? Again, by its very definition, it cannot be like anything because you never feel it. You are nowhere when it happens. You just come around later with no memory of it whatsoever. I don’t know if you retain a sense of time passed after you recover from a fainting, but from things I have heard, I don’t think so. It’s as if someone just cuts off the flow of time at one point and stitches it to another point some time down the line, and you miss whatever happened in the story of the universe in the middle.

Thus, blankness is physically achievable, whether via fainting, brain injury, going into a coma, or some other mechanism. Even though it may be an experience many of us have never had and thus cannot even imagine (I don’t think there’s anything to imagine about it even if you’d had it), it is undebatably possible. And people have come back from it and described it as complete blankness, devoid of experience or journeys or revelations or other worlds.

So why isn’t it possible that the experience after death is just that? Just nothingness? It is already evident that spending time without any conscious experience of anything is possible. With death this state just has to continue forever. If it is quite possible for you to ‘be nowhere’, why not in death? Why is it so difficult for some, including my past self, to believe that?

Almost the whole of what we call this enigmatic consciousness is shaped and structured by our raw sensory perception. Our consciousness, supposedly abstract and transcendental of our physiology, nevertheless turns out to be a collection of inward imaginings of various physical stimuli. We can think, you say, which has nothing to do with our senses. But what do we think? We think images, happenings, things in motion, colour and sound, time flowing and events unfolding as we perceive them in our mind through much the same routes that are analogous to our raw physical senses. We cannot imagine feeling a magnetic field or ultraviolet rays or perceiving another thinking mind. No matter how much we claim our consciousness to be transcendental of our physical senses, we cannot imagine any experiences outside the standard sensory perceptions.

If our consciousness, the only kind of consciousness that we all know personally, is thus so tied down to our biology, then when that biology demonstrably stops working at what we know as death, why shouldn’t our first assumption be that consciousness also switches off right there? If a problem with a small part of our physiology can evidently cause us to faint and switch off our consciousness, why should we expect that with absolutely no part of it working any more, we shall have experiences and meet people and go places? That we shall be judged for our actions in our lifetime, and accordingly be sent to different destinations? It sounds just like life all over again, with conscious experiences deriving from the same sensory perceptions we are used to, and logical decision-making abilities, except without the service of any of our physical senses or our brain whatsoever. Isn’t that weird? Isn’t there a problem here? Now think of all the religious war we have fought over the things that supposedly happen once we’re dead and how many consciousness-es we have snubbed out in the process.

The more I think of this, the more my favourite little theory of the grand bright uniting lights falls apart in  a hundred sad little pieces. I am known to cause myself these unhappy things, armed with just a keyboard.

But indeed, why are we so easily persuaded to believe that there exists experience after our body has stopped working? Why do we, after an entire lifetime of continuous real-time proof that our consciousness is inseparable from our physicality, expect it to just carry on after death? Is it because we fear nonexistence? I, for one, do. Although I cannot put down simply why one should fear it, it is a deep-seated fear among many. But I have a hunch that it is a baseless, irrational fear. It is not simply a fear of the unknown, as some would opine. I do not, for example, as far as I can tell in my limited self-analysis, have a fear of the unknown. I think it is instead a fear of estrangement, of being torn away from all that we know and love and depend on. Familiar people, things we like to do, and all that we love about the world. These are things that exist, and they will be absent in nonexistence. The only limited substitution we can imagine for nonexistence is thus complete solitude, in a stifling static blackness. But it is, as we see now in the light of the discussion, a false picture. For in nonexistence, one cannot oneself exist. Experiencing nothingness, in the form of static blackness, is not non-experience. If there is no experience, one cannot experience this nothingness either. Thus, there can be no loneliness, no estrangement, no sadness. There can only be nothing. Sadness therefore lies only in our moments of thinking about a false picture of nonexistence, not in nonexistence itself. So what are we finally worried about? Should we worry at all? One moment you’re here and you’re happy with everything around you, the next moment you’re not there, you’re not anywhere. What’s to worry about? It’s completely twisted, this fear and deep sadness that we have built around the prospect of death.

In conclusion, I still don’t know if this is what happens after death, but it sounds like a likely possibility, and also by Occam’s razor I suppose any alternate, more elaborate theories can be dumped in favour of this one. In the end nobody can be sure. But we’ll all find out anyway, won’t we?

What do you think happens after death? Why do you think so? Hit me with your thoughts.

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