Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Death Comes For Us All

I just finished reading Richard Morgan’s new novel, Thirteen. As with all of Morgan’s work, I enjoyed it immensely though it was quite violent in places. All of Morgan’s work is but a sense of outrage at the injustices of the world comes through.

This isn’t the injustice of the universe being as it is. I’m a firm believer in the Buddhist thought that the universe is how it is and the desire to make the universe other than how it exists is one of the causes of our suffering. The world is and this is far removed from any personal desires on our part.

The injustice of Morgan’s books is always the injustice which humanity visits upon itself. The petty games and the powerful games. The rapes, the killings, the refugees, the lust for power that lurks in the hearts of many people. The root principle of “I’ve got mine, Jack.” His characters are generally broken outsiders, often conditioned (literally) ex-soldiers who are aware of what they are but unable to change their nature, even with this knowledge. The better of them come to some sort of peace with their natures, or at least acceptance, and use it as a place to work on the part of the world that does not simply exist as it is, the human part. We can debate whether human nature, like other aspects of the universe, is unchangeable but I do believe that individuals can have an impact on the world, a positive one, even if the sphere of influence of this impact winds up being small. We can all bring something better to the world rather than shrugging and choosing to be fucking bastards.

One point that this novel did bring to mind, with the death of a character and the manner in which the death was approached, is the immediacy of death. Sure, we all have read, “Live each day as if it were your last!”, but how many people actually sit and spend a while thinking about that and then really pondering the consequences of that death? Even leaving aside that death comes for us all at any point, it still comes for us all. Full Stop.

You are going to die. I am going to die. Everyone is going to die.

Don’t rail against it. Don’t try to make the universe be other than what it simply is. Even if we discovered an immortality drug, that just makes your death happen (most likely) at some indefinite future point. You will still end just as the universe will, eventually, end.

If you are going to die, you should think about the impact of that and it should inform your life. Look around yourself and at your life. Are you living for tomorrow? Are you living to one-up the other guy or to build that special career to gain the money, prestige, lifestyle, or whatever that goes with it?

Are you really living a life of meaning? How do you define “meaning”?

There are no simple answers in any of this but it can give you an extreme moment of clarity, a crystalline lucidity, to raise your head up and really look at your life and what you live for or strive for in it. The jarring of your perspective can make many things become clear and show how unimportant so many others are when it really matters.

I suggest everyone spend five, ten, thirty, or a thousand minutes pondering this, actually thinking about it before you move on. You are going to die. It is inevitable and  it is neither bad nor good. It simply is. In that clear realization, look at your life and your goals and then think about how you want to live your life or how you wish to spend what time you do have in the world.