[Buddha-l] Being unable to imagine dying [confused]

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Sat Jun 5 15:06:46 MDT 2010

On Jun 5, 2010, at 1:47 PM, lemmett at talk21.com wrote:

> What I'm asking is if I were to take seriously the authority behind the fourfold negation of the Buddha's existence after death, apply that doctrine of his final death to my own upcoming one and then add the argument for one's own non existence being inconceivable: then should I conclude anything about the possibility of death being a positive nothingness ("slipping into the night").

I'm afraid the fourfold negation is purely an intellectual exercise that has no bearing whatsoever on anything as practical as the question you are asking. About the only thing you can conclude from the fourfold negation is that there is no self that will either endure or perish. But so what? 

> Or if "black velvet" remains very unlikely, does death take on a different significance according to these motivations I have adumbrated just now.

Death, like life, has no significance whatsoever in itself. Insofar as it has any significance at all, it has the significance you have chosen to give to it. It may be worth looking into why you have made the choices you have made in giving various things significance.

> Also I might add that, I think, that there is certainly something or other to Buddhist contemplation in that there is a sense in which a self cannot be found inhering in phenomena.

The non-self doctrine seems to me like an answer to a question that no one is asking, or a cure to a disease that no one actually has. 

> I haven't unpacked that analytically but then I can't do so at all easily to the belief of death's inconceivability either. At least without reading Derrida anyway.

No condition can possible be so bad that reading Derrida would be worth undertaking to find relief. Buddhist dogma may be a cure for a disease no one has, but Derrida is a disease for a cure that no one has found.

But ignore me. I'm old, prejudiced and happy to be both.


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