“Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aiden. It shall clasp a sainted maiden, clasp that rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore…” — A.E. Poe, The Raven
Now there is no cure for the true pains of death which are a cleansing, a shriving of shells and layers. But there is balm for the living who have pains which are not those of death, but ignorance. Of romance based not upon the cosmos or nature, but narratives whose likeness is more to parasites than truth or death. These pains are invented by ideas and confusions, and worse, by -looking in the wrong places- for … all we truly hope to find.
We have many bizarre beliefs about death. And they mislead us into agonies unnecessary and misfounded. We seem to think that our beloved companions or family die ‘into nothing’ or ‘into judgment’ or ‘into the afterlife’. We are overlooking some obvious facts of our own situation and experience. Some of these facts are critical and delcarative, others comprise an invitation to something far more interesting. First, the declarations.
A ‘self’ is largely a construct. It is not going to survive death. You wouldn’t want it to. We can’t come from and go to ‘nothing’, and our ideas about afterlives are at best confused and at worst cartoons. Now, the invitations.
In Chinese, there is a character that has the approximate meaning ‘personator’. It means, in essence, one who becomes another. This is important in certain transitions, particularly death, where someone ‘personates’ the dead, and the grieving treat them in all ways as the dead one, speaking, caressing, confessing, and so on during a period of mourning.
But even this is the representation of something vastly older and more true: we -become toward- those who -die into us-. In this sense, they ‘are born in us with dying’ and we -keep ignoring this- and pretending we want them back outside of us, instead of growing forever inside of us. We are, after all, the heaven we hope to live forever in and for. Don’t you think it might actually be set up that way already, or even -better-, since we ache so obviously for this, and more? Trust me. No one will ever dream up something as astonishingly true and beautiful as that which we are, are immersed in and are becoming.
But there is more, and this is as or more astonishing. The dead are not only alive within us, they return to us variously in the living. No matter where we are. In -all- living things, the dead who have loved us and who we love… they are re-visiting us like tides of changing faces, and moments in those faces… not just in signs we like and recognize, either… but in endless arrivals and departures, jests, puns… inside jokes, admonitions. You think that when you remember a beloved being who has transformed that it is simply you thinking. This was never true. And it is less true of the dead.
The psychic does not read another world. They -are- the other world they read. The dead -live within them, not heaven-. We are, indeed, the ‘heaven’ we die into. A controversial desert prophet is said to have mentioned that all we do on earth will be done in heaven. Well, now you know why. And that it’s a fact.
And… if living beings are at once themselves… -and the afterlife-… then we had better treat them -very- differently than what we are doing. Because every prisoner is a hell we shall ourselves inhabit, and every broken one is our own heart and future broken. The silenced are us, silenced. The lost, us, lost. Who shall we -not- raise up, knowing this? And to what land or water shall we lend our atrocities… knowing they are the very birthplaces of birth, death, -and- the living body of heaven?
We have got death all wrong. And just about everything else, too.