Sunday 23 March 2008

The Hard Path

I don't think there is an afterlife, but I think there is something important grasped at in the concept.

Do you die at peace?
Are your final thoughts, happy thoughts, contentment that your life wasn't in vain, or bitter resentment that it was all a waste?

I guess really, that's the final point of all our journeys. That will be the final judgement. As we feel the life ebbing and flowing from us, IN OUR MINDS, did we succeed or fail.

How will we know? Is it purely subjective?
No, no I don't think it is. I think we'll know in our heart of hearts whether we did all we could, or whether we frittered our lives away. We will look back on our failures, on the hard choices we failed to make, and they will cut into us like a knife.

I suppose this train of thought has been foremost in my mind of late. Partly, it has been the season. Our minds- or my mind anyway- are focussed on a man, who died on a cross, but we assume died in peace. And he must have done. His last words 'Father into your hands I commend my spirit', are words of total acceptance.

And one wonders, would he have died at peace, had he died aged seventy of old age? In his case, no, I don't think he would.

But also, I guess the last year has been a theological and ideological rollercoaster for me. Events in my own life have forced me to confront concepts such as good and evil and one's own life journey and realise how complex the universe is.

I think the universe is governed purely by thermodynamic principles. We will die, having worked with it, or we will die having worked aginst it. We will have gone with the flow, been driven by it, and die at peace, or we will try and cheat it, we will fight against it, and die unfulfilled.

And you have the free will to choose.

Sounds simple, but it isn't.

Because each of us has a multiplicity of choices we can make in life. Whether the possible routes that lead to dieing at peace exceed those that lead to dieing in frustration, I really don't know.

And unfortunately, I don't think it's fair either. It may well be, that some of us are looking at a life maze, where most of the choices will lead to dieing in misery.

The thing is, I think you know when you are on the right path. Something deep inside tells you, this is your route. Choose otherwise, you will regret it.

And I think sometimes, as we journey through, the choices get starker. The options narrow, and then suddenly, we face a series of choices that make us baulk.

There it is, shining in front of us. The ONLY route to self fulfillment. It's there, shining. And all around, every other route, leads to dieing in misery.
And you look at the shining route and it horrifies you. Surely THAT can't be your route to happiness?

Because it doesn't look like a route to happiness. It involves pain, suffering, endurance. It involves sacrificing everything else to this route. Following this route is going to be hard, the chances of slipping off and ending up on one of the myriad other routes leading to dieing in misery, are a thousand to one.

But it really is your only route. You have no other choice. What are you going to do if you don't follow it? If you don't, you will die in misery, so there is no point in following any other route. Follow this route, or just give up completely. If you can't follow this route, there is no point in following any route at all.

On the other routes, are temptations. There is Love, comfort, prosperity. But these are false routes. Follow them, you'll get those things. But they'll be hollow when you do. Because in your heart of hearts, you'll keep remembering the route you walked away from. The only route that could ever lead to you dieing at peace. You will hate yourself every day, you will look at yourself in the mirror and feel contempt.

Because you had a choice. The road to your fulfillment is dark, covered with thorns and no one is going to keep you company along that road. You will walk alone, every step of the way. No angels are going to come and comfort you. You will get no help, no comfort. Every step will make you more and more weary. The burdens that you have to carry along this road will make you sink to your knees, day in, day out. Many will be the day when you just do not want to go a step further.

Why is your road so hard? Why do others have paths to happiness that involve cuddling up to loved ones, laughing at barbecue parties, watching their children play in paddling pools, whereas for you, this would ultimately turn out to be a soulless, pleasureless, unfullfilling wasteland of a life, a chimera, false happiness?

Because those paths, are the paths of children. Children, in a spiritual sense. They expect to get back what they put in. They live for themselves, for their immediate loved ones, for their own comfort, their own joy. They do not care about what they do not need to know. You could keep them in cages- they are kept in cages in fact, and they do not care. They are the Eloi. Their happiness is entirely dependent on the good things in life. Reward and punishment.

The Eloi may try to seduce you with the blandishments that will make them happy. There is nothing wrong with them finding fulfillment with these things. These things will lead to them dieing happy. But not you.
The Eloi will perhaps hate you, they will not understand your rejection of their trinkets. They will not see, that you reject them, because you love them. You will even reject their love, because you love them.

You have to walk your path, because someone has to. And yes, you will probably fail. That is the point of these paths. They are hard. Your chances of succeeding and dieing content are a thousand to one, but it's the only shot you've got.

And you walk it, because someone has to.

Let every day be a burden to you. Reject those who try to dissuade you. Reject wealth, romance, prosperity. Do not rest, even when you feel exhausted, demotivated and at the end of your teather. If they attack, if they criticise you, if they degrade you, if they trip you over in to the mud, get up and keep walking.

The day may come, when you think you cannot succeed now. You have no choice. It's the only path you have. Keep walking on it.

Forget self. Overthrow the existence of your own identity. Unburden yourself of desire, of being self-conscious. Take your own physical existence OFF your list of priorities. Become pure mind, free yourself of body, of emotion, of pleasure, of pain.

Maybe there will be no happy moments EVER AGAIN in your life. Maybe that is the price you have to pay.

But in your dieing moments, maybe, just maybe, you'll know it was worth it.

Whatever your life path is, find it and keep to it. Die happy.
It may not be the Hard Path, but it may be.

Never forget, as much as you make your choices, the Universe decided it would be you that faced those choices.

Is that a comforting thought?
It's up to you.


Anonymous said...

Hi Crushed! I hope you are having a happy eggweekend... what's this "don't believe in an afterlife"... yet you were speaking of Mary contrary Mother of God the other week... OK I'm contrary too... have a good 'un tho: whatever you disbelieve!!


Anonymous said...

Crushed, if you are saying what I think you are saying, I am really worried for you. Now, I have seen those closest to me die and they were not conscious enough to think back on their lives - few of us are, you know. It's a myth that we all say wise words, etc., on our deathbeds.
You have youth, a job and hope of love. That is life's gift to you. Do not belittle it.

Anonymous said...

There is an afterlife...

Anonymous said...

Gledwood- I am and remain in many ways a strict Catholic, it remains the framework within which I view things.
But I think the Afterlife was a sales tool. In an age which thought nailing people to crosses was good, you needed to use carrot and stick to motivate them.
And we still do, because we're still stuck in eye for an eye justice.

Having said that, I applaud him for using the bribe, because it worked, and sold a great message. But we need to do what he told us, without the bribe. Just do it, because life's better if you do.

Mary, yes, keep trying to escape that paradigm.
Not sure cradle Catholics ever can.

Welshcakes- I am reminded of two occassions where there are two versions of last words.
Pitt is quoted as saying 'So much to do, so little time to do it in'. Or, some say, 'Ouch, I feel like I've eaten one of Bellamy's veal pies' (No, I don't know who Bellamy was)
George V, officially quoted as 'How is the Empire'. Other sources say, 'Bugger Bognor'.

My Grandfather's last words to my dad? 'Who the Fuck are you?'

Youth, well, passing. Job- Actually, yes, I seem to be flavour of the month right now, due to services rendered to the flow wrapping industry, but trust me, it's a fair weather business.

Love, ah, the eternal question. I'm still trying to work that one out. I think it's important that I get it straight. I think I love a lot, but not in the way that's usually meant. It took me till recently to realise how powerfully I feel when I am in love- because I'd forgotten. It probably is a good thing, it's only developed into a mutual thing once in my life. I really had forgotten how powerfully I do fall in love, when I do.

Cherrypie- I really wanted to believe that too, I did, until you inally realise, no, it can't be true.
I think Christ must have had some conception of Greek thought, because the real Christianity, is it's synthesis with the Platomic theory of the universe.
Christinity simply replaces the platomic Logos (Love), with God. This is why Christianity took the greek intelligentsia en masse, it's why they won in the end.

Platonic thought states that reason is eternal. It cannot die. It also states that that there are only four elements.
Everything has form, and substance.

This is the basis of Transubstantiation. The FORM, stays bread, the substance changes.

Now we know, this isn't reality.

There can be no afterlife, because perpetual motion is impossible. Even if souls existed, they must dissipate.

Lord Kelvin proved that nothing is immortal, though I doubt he would have like to admit it.

Anonymous said...

While I was away I wrote a comment to this post offline but never put it here. I just found it today on cleaning up my computer so here it is, a little late.

Crushed, did you go to a school run by Jesuits?

This post puts me in mind of St Augustine who lived a very hedonistic life early on, although eventually he gave it up to lead a monastic life. Are you sowing your wild oats now with perhaps entering the monastic life later on, like Thomas Merton? I think your ideas are too radical for the priesthood but in some ways your ideas are those of an ascetic.

Sometimes I wish that what one believes would be what happens after one dies. So for those who believe in the afterlife, then it should be so. For those who don't, then it is that.

Especially as I have so many non believers in my family, I'm even married to one.

As for dying in peace, many people do, both believers and non believers. I guess for me I would have a problem with some people going through such suffering in this life, through no fault of their own, but there being no reward afterwards. For example little children who spend years enduring cancer treatments and ultimately die anyway. I'd like them to have a happy afterlife for they surely had no life here.

I guess we'll never know in this life.