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Is Death The Meaning Of Life

It seems appropriate this Easter Sunday [4/21/19] as I write this to ask THE question humans have asked since we developed our unique-- to the animal kingdom-- self-awareness: is death the meaning of life? Are we born just to die, like every other animal but unlike every other animal we are cursed with that foreknowledge. Or are we something more, something or some part of us that transcends the physical death of the body? 

Now if there is an afterlife, that could mean the soul-- the individual consciousness we each possess-- 'travels' to another world, perhaps heaven, maybe even hell for some. Or it could mean being re-born in this world, as dictated by the law of Karma. But what it does mean is that WE NEVER END. In one life or another, each of us goes on. And so every life has a profound meaning to it, a meaning probably far greater than any of us can grasp. Certainly we are in this world for a reason, but that does not mean we all find our purpose in life. Many fail to do so, it seems. As a teacher I realized to give my students the chance to succeed at something, I had to also give them the chance to fail. Perhaps that's what God has in mind--I have developed a sense over the years that we are here to learn, to learn about the world, yes, but more importantly to learn about others and ourselves. IF WE FAIL TO LEARN, WE COMMIT SUICIDE, and not necessarily the bodily sort. What we most often kill is our own 'awakening', an awareness that transcends this vale of tears we call the world. And that is an apt metaphor, for life is innately sad: in this world we are all born to die. 

I've asked my atheist/agnostic friends how they feel about the prospect that everyone they love-- spouse, kids, friends-- are destined for extinction. Some seem to shrug it off, 'that's reality' they say. I know it's not, because like untold others I had an NDE; but greater in my estimation are the millions who have the faith, a sense almost that there is more than just this material world. But one fellow I asked, after first shrugging it off, showed a bit of anger--not at me I think but at 'reality' as he saw it, a godless, soulless, meaningless universe. I suggested that if he tried seeking God, he may well find Him. But he shrugged that idea off too. As I wrote in other 'mini-essays', science can tell us how but not why: it can never give meaning to live, the meaning that each of us, knowingly or unknowingly craves. Only by 'reaching out' do we have a chance at it.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2019

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Date: 10/4/2019 10:20:00 AM
I taught English, my college major, Barbara; although an agnostic then, I took 15 hours in Religion because the prof was such a great teacher, getting us constantly to think and question. Still, I saw the Bible as as just powerful fairy tales until I almost drowned at 24 in a Vermont river and had an NDE. I went from a young man who saw no meaning in the world to an old man who sees meaning everywhere and can feel at times its innate mystery flowing thru each of us, unaware of our eternal souls.
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Date: 10/4/2019 12:27:00 AM
Thanks for explaining. what do you teach, the Bible?
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Date: 7/13/2019 2:44:00 PM
Told you read more of your poems, I must not have my thinking cap on...what does NDE mean, can soup mail me if desire. What do you teach?
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L. J. Carber
Date: 7/13/2019 4:30:00 PM
Sorry, Barbara, I should have explained: NDE stands for 'near death experience', a term devised by, I believe, Dr. Raymond Moody in his book, Life After Life. NDEs have been recorded since Plato wrote about the soldier of Ur but became more common it seems with the invention of the de-fib machines that can re-start the heart.