Winner: 2014’s Blog of the Year #8
I was five in grade one, and that’s when I experienced the first example of me realising that I didn’t think the way most people did. During a conversation about a story or something, our teacher casually referred to the fear of death that everyone shares.
Whoa—what? I’m supposed to share a fear of death? Why? I don’t know what sort of childish language I used, but I literally asked it out loud. The teacher brushed it off as a don’t-be-silly of-course-everyone’s-afraid-of-death, but I was genuinely and deeply perplexed. On the way home I asked the kid in the class I trusted the most if he was afraid of death. He asked why I wouldn’t be?
To me, being afraid of death is like being afraid of eating, or breathing. These are inevitables. There’s no way around them, whether there’s another one coming, like a meal, or you only get one or maybe two per lifetime, like death. Why think about stuff you’re sure will happen, but you can’t know when? That’s crippling. Those thoughts are expensive in terms of energy, and they don’t buy you anything. You’re better to not-think them and instead just go live. Death can happen whenever it happens. Deal with it then, but don’t waste your nows worrying about something that could be decades away. Don’t do that with things even moments away.
My friend thought that was weird, so he asked me if I was afraid of God. I still find it strange that I didn’t think it was odd that I had an answer ready immediately. I don’t ever remember thinking about the subject at all. Because I’d had my accident, I used the word “consciousness” at five. I told him that “God” was everyone’s consciousness mixed together—that the most fundamental forms of everyone is actually all one thing, and that thing is everything. He thought it sounded crazy and now that I’m older I understand why. But it didn’t change how sure I was. And it’s even easier to be that sure today. Even I find that strange.
You don’t have to worry about death if you’re not worried about paying some kind of supernatural price, so stop the worrying-about-death thoughts, and make sure you don’t trade those for worrying-about-life thoughts. Forget striving. Forget regrets, and guilt and shame. These are pointless. Yes, feel the sting of immediate regret. That will singe the idea into your mental framework. But there is no need to carry on with those thoughts after you have already deemed the matter regrettable. The fact that it’s regrettable literally proves you don’t want to repeat it, so what’s the problem? You’re done. You know what you want to do, now you have to use your nows for something else other than worry.
Remember, you don’t owe anyone anything. You were complete and whole and perfectly you, right from the start. Even the questioning of all that is, is an aspect of you. But you cannot be separate. There is no outside in a dream. All of the characters in a dream feel separate to themselves, but we understand they are all the dreamer. Relax into that idea. Stop trying to prove your worth and just be yourself and your worth will be realised naturally by your own passionate interests.
It’s easier than you think. Quiet your mind. Be yourself.
Alan Watts died in November of 1973. Born in Britain, Watts was actually best known for introducing Eastern Philosophies like Buddhism, to the West. A popular writer and speaker, Watts was a man who enjoyed a rich life, and he’s still today one of the clearest voices in the effort to expose and deconstruct the human ego. I’ve always liked this talk. I hope you enjoy it as well:
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.