On Being: Being in Time: Death

Music: Chaconne from the Suite in E Flat.
By Gustav Holst. Sequenced by George Pollen.

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Nicholas Gordon

1. Since being is eternal, our own being is also eternal, both within and outside of time.

2. Consciousness has a beginning and end, but what it is conscious of is ultimately eternal.

3. Because we cannot experience our own creation and extinction--only the moments immediately after and before--we experience being without beginning or end, even though all around us we see things coming into being and disappearing into nothingness.

4. We readily imagine a world without us, but we cannot imagine a world in which we are not imagining a world without us. That is, we cannot imagine death, just as we cannot--and will not--experience death, although we will experience dying.

5. Death is, therefore, unimaginable, which is why in its place we imagine a life after death.

6. Like characters in a play, we exist only within our play, with neither before nor after.

7. The characters may know that the play has a beginning and an end, but for them it itself is all--perfect, complete, with every moment equally eternal, including the last.


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