Recently I came across another article that attacked the ideas of death awareness. The source of the article was from a spiritual tradition of Jewish mysticism. I once studied under this group and had much respect for it, until I got deeper involved.
When I part of the group, it seemed to be about wealth acquisition, status improvement, and get this – to live forever. Living forever wasn’t some mere metaphor … it was a literal identification with a living human body for eternity.
That’s the closest thing to hell I can think of.
When I came across this article titled “The War is Raging,” it brought back those old teachings.
Deciding to dig a bit deeper, I found that Rav. Berg had written extensively on the subject, including a series on immortality.
The Human Body Hell
The great founders of this philosophy of eternal body life are all… dead. How did that work out for them? Could they not overcome, like they taught?
In truth the human body is a great aspect of existence. It allows us to work out our karma, grow spiritually and gain insights by experiencing the world around us.
Yet, the human body is also a hell.
I suppose those who want immortality also presume to have a form of existence that is without pain or suffering. A “heavenly body,” if you will.
The greatest problem with the human body (or any form of finite existence), however, is in identifying it with the idea of “self.” This grave mistake is what has caused almost all problems we face today.
When a person identifies themselves as their body, they will act in a way of self preservation – often to the extent of hurting and harming others. The hero’s of our day are those fellow’s who go beyond this identification. They choose to give up their body life to save another.
Most of us however, act as though our body is us. We all do. But this is why we meditate. To remove those ties of bondage.
When we identify with the body, our mind is a smaller mind. It is not vast. It is not eternal. It is what Yogananda called the ego (the self identified with the body.)
The dangers of identifying with the body, is that our mind in this state is in capable of understanding something greater. It’s like a small dish or teacup trying to hold the ocean. The ocean spills around it, and it holds this microcosmic portion of it.
The little mind (identified with the body), looks at this greater thing and says, “oh it’s like me, look here God is, He’s an angry God… just like me.”
This is true idolatry.
This is how a Christian evangelist can say both “Jesus loves you,” and “get out of my country.” Both thoughts are contrary, but the little mind can’t see that. Instead it says, “this makes sense,” because it is a self-reflection of our lowest and smallest states of existence (the body.)
It’s the reason why the Old Testament ordered the killing of children and the raping of women, in God’s name. They weren’t experiencing God, they were trying to understand God in their small teacups and God became what they were. It reflected their own ego desires.
When a person feels they are alive and nothing is going to stop them… they are on the edge of destruction. Most people operate from this point of view. When someone goes to a party, hooks up, gets someone pregnant, it’s all with the lack of consequences.
I know a family who’s youngest son went to a party. At some point the police arrived to the party on a noise complaint and the boy was found guilty of firing a weapon at the police. He went to jail for 15 years. That child thought nothing of death, or consequence. They could as easily been shot by the police. He was reacting to a situation, where he felt “alive,” and angry at the same time.
People understand they won’t live forever, but it’s hardly how the act. They act like that child. They launch an attack thinking not of the consequence nor of how it will harm the other. In their subconscious mind, they live forever.
But what if that young man was trained to contemplate (with reverence) death. The death of his grandfather, or perhaps a meditation on his own mortality. How vulnerable we all are to disease and death.
With mortality in mind, one’s reactions are nullified. Addictions pan away. We are also more able to face death, without fear. Fears of others, of the darkness, of the unknown, they fade as well.
In Eastern terminology, this is called impermanence. It is a non-popular belief to identify that we (and other things) are not permanent.
“Well of course I’m not permanent,” someone will say… but that’s now how they act. When kids do dangerous things, when adults go on hiking treks by themselves, when people act “stupid,” they act in a way of permanence.
By meditating on one’s own impermanent nature, one can find a path out of body identification.
When people die slowly, they adjust to the end. This adjustment brings a peace towards the end (for most.) At first hearing the news they are going to die, people are scared or sad or depressed. As time moves along, they adjust. They begin to put their lives in order.
Consider that phrase, “putting things in order.” They re-prioritize their lives. The really important things are moved to the top (friends, family, etc.) The non important things (work, computer games, getting drunk, addictions) are thrown off the list.
Impermanence is the gateway to releasing ourselves from delusion. Without which, I can not see a way to resonate with life spiritually.
Wars Against Death
We all die. We know that.
Well most of us do. Some of us may choose to think that we can literally live forever in some human body hybrid. I try to not think like that. In doing so, it opens the door to living without consequence.
While you may believe in Karma (actions and consequences), if you at the same time believe you’ll exist in finite form eternally… even with a perfect body without blemish, the whole idea seems suspicious.
We may consider it would be like having the body of a Greek god. Maybe we could even do miracles, etc. But our frame of reference is still finite.
Don’t you see? You are still relating to the greater (God, Universe, Mind, Emptiness) from something finite (a body, or construct that is outside the greater.)
You are speaking of eternal ignorance.
Yet there is a movement that believes it will achieve this. Perhaps technology will be able to do this. What of overpopulation? More frustrations and more war as a result?
Ah, well maybe the “you” they create is your consciousness on a microchip in a virtual reality. That’s fine and I’m not one to stop the idea. However you slice it, we’re still dealing with a finite form of existence. How much of the greater could they experience?
The outside danger is that such people create their own tapestry of mythos, saying that “death is satan.” That “darkness,” is the enemy… and in doing so they create fears and anxieties and attachment to ego (their body.)
Living eternal has merit if we think of it as a vast existence: In spirit form or non-corporeal manifestation.
Just imagine how bored you would be, living century after century in your body. Such a person would no doubt pick up one vice after another. The reason it would be hell, is that the eternal life would be trapped in a body that is of limited experience.
Would you enjoy being eternal in the body of a snail? No? Really? Well then, why would you want to be eternal in human form?