My brother has this fascination with a psychological theory called ‘the denial of death’ by Ernest Becker, that posits much of what humans do sociologically and psychologically is to deny their death. Humans, as conscious creatures, are the only poor animals that can be tortured by thoughts in their mind. A mind they obviously have little control over (much to their denial of this fact too…but try yourself to just stop your thoughts for even 30 seconds! You cannot do it.)
People look for endless ways to lose themselves – to not have to really face themselves. Because the truth is there is no real self – its an artificial construct. In essence the self is already dead! How ironic! I mean after all, is a robot alive? No wonder someone once said, ‘let the dead bury the dead’.
The ‘self is a reflection of the group, for in essence the self only exists in association with other ‘selfs’. So we run around to various activities, losing ourselves in work, the kids, music, sex, drugs and alcohol, on and on, anything but to have to be still. Stillness is painful. Painfully similar to …death.
How much better my brother would be if he took his learning and applied it on a personal level. All our anger, stress, anxiety frustration, and other negative emotions are because in essence – we deny death. Our ego assumes it will go on forever. So we have a right to be angry and stressed because to endure forever in these situations of pain deserves our negative reactions.
But if we were to awake to the fact that relatively speaking, we will be dead tomorrow, it might cause us to shift perspective. I always remind myself on difficult days “What is there to worry about? I am going to be dead tomorrow!” and the shift begins. (In case you missed it, 70 short years on a cosmic scale is but a flash in the pan!)
Or said another way, “I am on vacation today, its my last day, and I fly home tomorrow. So what am I worried about? (Nothing).” It helps.
Every prophet from Jesus to the Buddha spoke of dying to your (old)self, hence the term “Born Again”. All wise men pointed to the fact that until you tame the ‘self’ aka ego, you will forever endure the pain and suffering of this world. And its harder to break free when you are young, or rich, or successful. The trappings of this world bring you down deeper into it, and when its good, boy is it good! But what goes up must come down, and as they say “Oh how the mighty have fallen” (and sorry…”I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” lol)
Start dying to your (old)self today! Its easy, get some rope and string a noose…just kidding! The only way to escape – the only way out – is in! You need to go inside the hole, the emptyness of self – to discover the whole. And in the process, magic will happen!
Start by taking some Gabatrol, it quiets the mind (ego) so you can feel better immediately. Add to that some walking meditations, in the woods, alone – just focusing on one thing – each foot as it hits the ground. It’s so simple, I bet you still cannot do it! Because you are possessed by the self that tells you do ANYTHING but tame/control it!