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on death


on death

Scott Bahlmann

Dear M,

My grandfather is being buried today, which has brought to a focus my ideas of what death means to me and that ever popular question explored by all the societies of the world, what happens next. He brought such a joyful acceptance to all his interactions, and had such creativity. I feel that my connection to my grandfather is stronger than it ever could have been up to this point. We are connected now without the constraints of time, distance, or understanding.

I occurs to me that there is an aspect of my childhood religion that resonates in this context. The idea that when life has ended we become gods. Just as the physical self is returned to the base physical elements (at least it would if there weren’t efforts take to preserve it), so the ‘soul’ is returned to the base spiritual elements. It becomes a part of god. In my opinion, this is different than a recreation of the person from their recent life dwelling in a kingdom ruled by a grand personification.

It just struck me that this is very medieval in its structure. A patriarch rules from a high place over a vast city where the citizens dwell (free from want and disease). I can see how this was very appealing for that time as it was a familiar and, I would suppose, comforting idea to those in that social structure during their lives. For me, it’s different, perhaps due to the influence of the digital age…

Really we are all god already, and the forms we take are a bit of a hindrance in tapping into that inner divinity. Following the manner of the body I feel that the essence of the person, separate from the physical, also breaks down into it’s essential components, rejoins the ‘god’ (a sort of central life center) and is redistributed. It’s a take on reincarnation I suppose, without the retention of the individual.

This reflects upon an idea I’ve encountered recently, playing on the reincarnation theme. We are everyone who has ever existed, and who will ever exist. It isn’t that we are reborn through a thread of time, but that we are reborn as everything in all of existence. This also parallels the famous phrase “If you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”  

To use metaphor, it’s like the water cycle. Rain falls and fills a pond, or a stream, or freezes in a glacier. It takes the shape of that body. Eventually it evaporates into the air, forms as a cloud (all the energies gathering together for transition) and falls again into a new body. The individual drops do not stay together, but they are still the same essence redistributed, performing the same function in a new form.

Or, when a company merges, some individuals will transition to a parallel position where the continue the same function, some will transition to a new position doing a different function, and some will leave the field all together and become a part of a completely different organization. All the workers still exist, but not in the form of the old company.  

So, now that my grandfather is no longer in his body, I can see him in everything: the waves washing over my feet, the buds on the tree outside my window, the blinking light at the crosswalk, the ink flowing from my pen. He is everywhere, in everything. He is god.