Shying Away From The Subject Of Death Indicates There Is A Lack Of Acceptance About One Of The Basics Of Life
Existential philosophers and psychologists propose two modes of existence. The first is our everyday connection to the world by way of many distractions. These include physical appearance, style, possessions and prestige and they occupy us fully in this everyday mode. This mode has been called “the first half of life” attitude by many including myself in my books and blogs. And is very much the result of natural selection and our instinctive behaviours designed to replicate our genes
The second ontological mode can be compared to the awakening or “second half of life” attitude when one becomes engaged with such issues as human and individual responsibility. Attempting to live life authentically by stripping away the fake masks and the first half of life attitudes to be replaced or to reveal a life of engagement, connectivity, meaning and self fulfillment. In the second half of life we are more likely to realise we have free will and can make some choices that defy our animal instincts. This is what makes human beings unique.
In existential thinking one’s finitude or limitations is to be accepted. In layman’s terms, one has to deal with the fact of death and the accompanying anxiety in order to live a full life. It is believed that any thoughts other than death being final leads to a failure to live a full life due to beliefs of reincarnation and heaven and there being as many chances as one needs to get life right and if it is not going well now it is no problem, maybe next time will be easier or better in some way. In a nutshell the philosophy is that you get one ride through this life so you best accept it and live each day to the best of your ability. Enjoy the ride. Existential therapists work on the premise that many psychological issues are due to an inability to recognise what is in their eyes the unavoidable truth of death and look it full in the face, embracing it. Embrace the mystery.
Whilst I do not hold with many existential beliefs I do get the point that it can with certain personality types get them to face up to life. It probably has the opposite effect of making others hide away, finding life depressing and pointless. For me, whether our consciousness die with our bodies or live on does not make any difference. Life should still be lived to the full. I see us as ever evolving projects and life changes including death don’t dictate that we don’t work to progress who and what we are. Maybe, for some – existentialism provides that motivation to have a short term impact on our species evolution and what a great bonus if when you have lived that one very satisfying life to discover that a part of you lives on. A double whammy, I believe that is called. The fact is NOBODY knows what happens. There is evidence for the afterlife and we can take it or leave it. The alternative is living life tentatively in the hope of a heaven or immortality! That would seem naive and a waste of life because if we do live on we will get a better start if we have become more in this life. Promise or belief in the afterlife should never stop us living this life, right now, to the best of our abilities.
Incidentally, as this is my blog, I do believe (based on much reading) in a continuing consciousness or at least death is a mystery that will never be solved. However, I intend to live life like an existentialist would, as if it is final and that if we continue on we need to have made as much progress as possible in preparation for whatever mystery will unfold. This also entails living in the moment, something I find very difficult to do but continue to work on. It is our purpose in life to take the best from these theories both scientifically and intuitively and to piece a personal world view together much like a jigsaw puzzle. Allowing for change and tailored to who we are at any given moment and who or what we intend to become. Moreover, when a thought one likes resonates with us it just feels right. No hammering to make it fit. One instinctively knows when something is right for this moment in this life, once we are present and free from distractions and the endless desire for more.
Worth A Read – The Afterlife Experiment by Gary Schwarz