[Buddha-l] Being left alone to quietly die

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Sat Jun 5 12:47:38 MDT 2010

On Jun 5, 2010, at 1:33 AM, Erik Hoogcarspel wrote:

> Sartre once wrote a 
> short story about a suicide terrorist who abandoned his intention to 
> blow up a building because he realized he wouldn't be there to witness 
> the results.

Erik, you have hit upon an issue that continues to grate on my nerves. As you know, it is my preferred dogma that all people simply cease to exist when they die (although some manage to achieve an end to consciousness before their bodies stop metabolizing nourishment). I have believed this ever since hearing Hank Williams sing "No matter how you struggle and strive, you'll never get out of this world alive." 

Generally speaking, my belief brings me deep comfort, for it entails the belief that I will no longer have any worries or frustrations, and while I am alive I have no fear that I may someday die and go to heaven and be greeted there by Sarah Palin. But there is something about my belief that really does gnaw away at my naturally cheerful disposition. It bothers me that all those people who believed they would go to heaven (or hell or cross the bridge at bardo) will never know they were wrong. All those self-described martyrs who think they will go to heaven as a result of blowing themselves up along with a busload of innocent school children, or as a result of being pro-life by shooting a doctor who provides abortions, or as a result of dying in some pointless war (but is any war not pointless?), will never know they were wrong. They will never have an opportunity to look at what they have done and say "Merde! Je me suis dupé." That part of me that thrives on Schadevreugde (if that is the proper way of saying it in Dutch) will have to be content to take joy in my own frustration of not seeing others kicking themselves for having been in error. Tiens, ainsi que ce soit.

> In Buddhist philosophy the I is seen as a stream, or a continuity.

Yes. I love this analogy. Some continua of consciousness are torrents, some maelstroms, and some mere trickles. Politicians are mostly waterfalls, except for Canadians. They are hockey rinks.

> If you want certainty 
> you better start doing some thinking of your own.

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