Sunday, November 14, 2010

Death

Sometimes, I think about death. Of mine and of others. How would I die? Would it be painful? I hope not. How is it like to witness the death of a loved one? Is it better to die than be sick and suffer at old age? And, what happens after you die? Why are all people and animals scared of death?

I was raised as a Buddhist, so I was taught that the dead would be born again as another life unless they have achieved nirvana. The re-birth happens based on what karma we’ve done in this life and what thoughts we’d have in our last breath. Fascinating; a little scary too.

I’ve also heard of re-incarnation stories – of people speaking of their past lives and they being matched with true incidents; and then I’ve heard of ghost stories, of people who’ve died years ago and still haunt the living. Somehow; they don’t go together really well though... because, if someone dies and become a ghost, and that same someone also get re-born in another life; then the ghost seems pretty stuck being a ghost till the eternity...

I’ve heard some Buddhist monks explain ghosts as another life; not human, not animal but some super human life, that like any other, would end someday. I think I like the lives that end than something eternal. Personal choice though ;)

Anyways; what really happens? Religion aside; I really don’t know - I don’t remember of a previous life. I guess that not knowing what happens after death is what scares us all. And; may be; evolution has built it in to our genes, to fear death, so that all animals would strive to live; instead of just give in whenever death is on one’s way.

I’ve had an out of body experience in my childhood. I was sick and was in my mom’s arms. I was in pain and I wanted to move; and then, I passed out. Everything that happened thereafter until I woke up again are still in my memory in vivid detail. And; I was observing all that from outside of the body. And my parents say; I explain the events exactly the way they happened.

Looking back, I don’t think I died or was going to. I was in so much pain; my brain must have disconnected the consciousness. Because; all the while I was unconscious, I didn’t feel any pain at all. How did I see from outside of my body? I don’t know, but maybe my senses apart from eyesight were working quite sharply and my brain must have created the visual impressions through them.

I’ve read in some science journals that say; that’s exactly what people in near death experiences have experienced. The process of the body dying is a very painful process and that makes the brain - while it still lives - to disconnect the consciousness. Depending on the functionality of other senses and the amount of brain death happening; they might either see what’s going on around them or bright lights / their past / loved ones etc.

All this; doesn’t explain the phenomena of ghost stories and re-incarnation stories. But; just because science doesn’t explain that doesn’t mean religious explanations are correct. Most religions taught that the world is flat until they were proven otherwise. Buddhism, even with my biased opinion towards it, has had its share of myths associated with it.

So; when it comes to death I think I’ll take my chances with it and discover the unknowns myself; and that’s if my consciousness survives - which I think is highly unlikely. I think that would be the end of me and my consciousness would cease to exist. I hope to have a smile on my face when I die; so I hope I would realize the moment has come and have control over my facial muscles for that one last smile...