Colegiul National "Moise Nicoara" Arad

Life and Death in the Existential Continuum


  Adelina Ramona Ranca

                                                        12th F grade


Life and death are a man’s best friends, which he has yet to get to know. Life, we believe we control it rather well, whereas death is an utter mystery about which we don’t even want to talk. At first sight, if I asked someone what he or she understands from these two words, surely I would receive an answer, such as: “Life expresses something positive, and death something negative.” Really? I don’t understand why people tend to get scared as often as they can and as much as they do.

Life – respectively, birth – is the threshold crossing from the spiritual world to the material world and then death is the passing back from the material world into the spiritual one. I strongly believe in this statement. Practically, life and death have a strong and close bond. One would not exist without the other. Both are faces of continuous existence.

I am amazed by the number of people who want, and even pray and beg to live as long as they can. I wonder if they think that those many years they want to be living can mean only sickness, or suffering, loneliness, without any satisfaction. You can live a hundred years even if you are gravely ill or poor. Just the same, you can live thirty years and enjoy all the wonders that the material world has to offer. I can give Achilles as an example, who had a choice between a short life, yet full of glory and a long life, without too much magnitude. He chose the former. For the ordinary man, it is more important the quantity rather than the quality, which most of the times brings unhappiness.

There cannot be life without death and neither can it be the other way around. We die in every second only to be able to continue on living, which is emphasised by the process of exfoliation of the human cells. I read a long time ago a book by Deepak Chopra, an Indian specialised in the domain of  body-mind healing (”The Book of Secrets”, ”For You” Publishing 2008, the Romanian translation edition), who gave a very beautiful example regarding what death could mean. When you, as a man, are 60 years old, it means that you are no longer the person that you were when you were 10 years old. Your thoughts, mind, tastes, cells and your body have changed. They have gone through a change. Therefore, it means that that 10-year-old kid you once were is dead. Only your Self is the one that “roams” throughout the existential continuum, experiencing these two given faces of his own. Life and death. Imagine existence as a very long stick, and life and death come under the shape of a rope which curls itself around the stick.

Life implies a pre-established scenario, the same for every one of us. Once you were born, you also have to die. There is no other way out. Prince Charming, no matter how he tried finding eternal youth, wishing to protect himself from this process of passing, ended up just as well in dying. “A slap had HIS DEATH given him, and in an instant he was turned to dust,” wants to bring out the death, each and everyone’s death, with which we end our initiating path of life.

What is certain is that the man bears in his subconscious the idea that he is immortal, just that in his incarnation on this earth he had forgotten this matter and for this precise reason he has this thirst for immortality. Just as Gilgamesh had done, being displeased by his condition of a mortal, he began his journey in finding immortality.

Life begins through birth. Let’s study for a bit what birth means for the people of the 21st century. Immense joy, two people becoming parents and the entire family celebrating the moment. It seems all so beautiful, doesn’t it? But what if it isn’t? Formerly, the Getae would weep and cry at the birth of a child, for they knew that it would have to face the weight of this life, as they would laugh at the death of a man, because he returned back “home”, more appropriately to their god Zamolxis. Try picturing this. How would it be to go, in our days of course, to a funeral and laugh, celebrate, and when a child is brought on this world, you’d start crying and pity him?

Have you ever asked yourselves why children cry at birth? Why aren’t they laughing, for example? It’d be easy. The baby cries when he is born because he feels that he is breaking apart from the spiritual world. Practically, he is “abandoning” home, fact which saddens the own Self, it being in perfect harmony with Everything, in that given dimension. “The miracle of death does not reside in what it ends, but in what it begins.” (M. Eliade, Oceanography, Humanitas 1991) From Eliade’s words, it can be understood that death is not that much of a “death” as it first may seem. Here, it is not seen as an ending, but as a beginning. For now, what we know is that death puts and end to life, but I wonder, what does it initiate?

This passing, crossing over if you will, presumes the loss and abandonment of the body.  This matter is perceived as an interruption and a loss of our own person. This fear resides from the Ego. “The purpose of death is to imagine yourself in a new form, with a new location within space and time.” (Deepak Chopra, ”The Book of Secrets”, ”For You” Publishing 2008, the Romanian translation edition).

 I want to underline something else I have read. I will give a similar example. If you ask people a simple question, such as: “At what time did you go to bed last night?” The answer: “At 10:30. Or at 9 o’clock.” “And where was this memory before I ask you about it?” This is only a update of an event. See? This is almost just like the process of passing, called death.

Why don’t we worry when somebody sleeps? Just because we know that in the morning he will wake up? And what if he doesn’t? That doesn’t mean he no longer exists. He still is, but under another form, time and space. The same Soul, can return right on earth, but with another body and with another mission. Mircea Eliade has another extremely suggestive wording: “We all are immortal, but first we have to die.”  (Mircea Eliade,”The Forbidden Forest”, Humanitas Publishing, 1971). I reckon that this is more than true. Immortality belongs to the spiritual world. We cannot be immortal in a material world, caught in space and time. First we have to escape this labyrinth, in order to be truly free.

The philosopher Emil Cioran states: “Death is a state of perfection, the only one at the hand of a mortal.”  .”( E. Cioran, The Twilight of Thinking, Humanitas, 1994) So I take it that death is the only gate of escape from this place in which we are caught once we are born, just as I mentioned above. Death in the life of a human is alike a waterfall in the middle of the dessert, in which a being wanders and gets lost.

I believe that people are like babies when it comes to what lies beyond death. How many times do we hear the saying: “Is there life after death?” It fits perfectly with the story that I will share in the following lines and I want you to draw your own conclusions. There was once a woman who got pregnant. For nine months, the two twin babies from her belly had been talking. One was faithful, and the other sceptical. The sceptic one asks the other if he believes there is life after birth. The answer is affirmative and he begins explaining the other that intrauterine life is preparing them for what is about to come. He believes that they will be able to walk on their own two feet, eat with their own little mouth, and that they will be able to see their mother. The sceptic cannot agree with such thing and asks how would it be possible for him to eat with his mouth when all they have is a short umbilical chord, to walk when they barely have any space there… and especially see their mother. Their mother does not exist for him, because he has never seen or felt her.

For us, who have already been born, this question, “if there is life after birth” seems utterly ridiculous.

Here is how much we, humans, are alike, with these embryos, when we ask ourselves if there is life after death. Maybe our own question seems pointless and makes no sense to those who are already there, in the spiritual world.

Existence, this continuous thread of actualisations of our own Self is the so called “eternal life”, the rest is just a game, and initiative path full of mazes, wishes, questions and fears of a human who has forgotten his divine essence. You can truly live your life only after you can detach yourself from the feeling of fear of death. At night, if the sun has stopped shining that does not mean it has perished. The sun had just updated somewhere else, because that is its mission. “Nothing is lost, everything changes!” (Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier, “General Considerations on the Nature of Acids”,1778)

Maybe you are asking yourselves what has all of this to do with the Mobius strip? I think that it might actually represent, in fact, the existential continuum, and that life and death are the two faces that cannot be separated. Through creating such a string out of paper, we could have a tangible proof of existence and all that it includes. We could hold the entire universe in our hands, just by playing with a single piece of paper! And this is how, alike many times, we don’t even know what we’re playing with…