I'm a writer, if you didn't already guess. I have a few favorite quotes that go to the heart of my beliefs. There's my favorite quote from "The Catcher in the Rye" that always takes my breath away because it's a representation of what I feel I want to be. Mark David Chapman obviously didn't read the book I did or he wouldn't have killed John Lennon. I'm getting off the subject though. I want to talk about a quote that goes to the nature of what I want to grasp.
"You have to know, not fear, that some day you are going to die. Until you know that and embrace that, you are useless."
Knowing and fearing are two different things, but we tend to meld them into one powerful super fear that prevents us from being happy. I've had to deal with the death of two of the most important people in my life. Each of their deaths were profound, and made me change in many different ways. The death of my Mother nearly nine years ago took me on a spiritual path that lead me to Buddhism and to the belief that this universe is devoid of an absolute morality. In short, there is no absolute evil nor absolute good, except that which WE created. That doesn't mean this morality isn't important, it's just not divine in any way.
When I see people bow in prayer to a burnt grill cheese sandwich or worship a hunk of wood with the supposed image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary I tend to think that it is not the work of some deity, but rather the act of spiritually hollow people. I'm sorry, but if you see Jesus in a grill cheese sandwich then you really haven't found the salvation you seek. Nor have you even really looked except outside of yourself, as if it was a bag of chips that you can just pick up and be instantly gratified/saved.
I actually wrote an essay about this in the January 2006 issue of Elsewhere on my homepage. It's the idea of internal vs. external salvation. The quote I started this entry speaks to another idea that I'm embracing more these days, the notion that there is no salvation or redemption. If there is no absolute morality then there certainly can't be redemption because the two go hand in hand.
Fearing your death is natural, I respect that. It's strange but I can't tell you when I stopped fearing my own death. I don't want it to be any time soon, mind you. But the idea of my eventual death doesn't fill me with fear anymore. Let me put it this way, if there isn't anything beyond this mortal coil then I won't know the difference. My matter, my energy, will be recycled in the cosmic circle that is existence.
One of the reasons I love the Sarah Mclachlan song "Elsewhere" (from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy) is because of the following lines.
This is heaven to no one else but me
And Iíll defend it as long as
I can be left here to linger in silence
If I choose to
Would you try to understand
THIS mortal coil IS heaven to me because, as Hamlet asks...
Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
"Broadway Arcade Building."