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Old 07-01-2006, 03:29 AM
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alconaut
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Death

Okay..... I really wanted to hold off on starting a discussion on this topic, but I couldn't wait.



Since I'm not a true atheist, I'm curious to know how those who are view death. The process of dying, the actual event, funeral arrangements, how you want to be remembered, etc.

To me, a non-atheist, it all seems so anti-climactic to just die and be buried or burned.

I was thinking to myself that if I were to become atheist, I would need to compensate in some way for the lack of promise of an afterlife. So I decided I would have a huge, elaborate walk-through mausoleum built in my honor (don't laugh, I'm serious), complete with carvings of griffins, scrollwork, words carved in Latin, etc. Perhaps the remembrance would be compensatory. I would have little plaques and glass enclosed trinkets (things I held dear, that held sentimental value for me) strewn throughout, and maybe a wax duplicate of me enclosed in a glass coffin. Something people would talk about. See, I'm pretty certain that I'll never be famous, so why not? Why shouldn't I be as revered in death (however simplistic my life) as a celebrity? Shouldn't we all? Our lives are as important as anyone else's. It's depressing and unsatisfying to think of being buried in a plain 'ol grave, eventually all but forgotten.

So what are your plans/views/perspectives?

It really isn't as boring (lol) - or simple - as just the event of death itself, do you think?
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Old 07-01-2006, 05:46 AM
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I think yours is a problem held shared by almost everyone, including me.

I sometime think it could be all about the ego, that religion and life after death scenarios are all founded on the the fact(?)(i cant think of the right word here...sorry)that we cannot bear the idea of no longer existing so we build vast constructs around us so we dont have to face that.

Having said that Im exactly the same, very frightened of illness and death, desperatly hoping there is something after this.

I get comfort from looking at all the cycles(as I was saying in the 'what Americans believe thread')I can see everywhere...the moon,tides, seasons etc. Its my hope that we too 'come back' and there IS growing evidence for reincarnation...children are sometimes born with past life memories that have been coroborated, and there are quite a few cases that seem very complete and convincing.

Some interesting literature on the subject are Michael Newton's books 'Destiny of souls' and 'Journey of souls' he is an American hypnotherapist who worked on looking at 'life between lives' for his PHd....he hypnotises people and takes them back to before their birth....its an absoulutely RIVETING read and free of the smush that some of the kind of books have.Very comforting, and his arguments are quite convincing....give them a go!

I certainly dont want a big mausoleum in my honour! but I WOULD like to leave something of myself (out of vanity,I guess..sigh) I'd like to think my photographs would go on touching people after my demise....I think its wonderful to leave a legacy of great music, books,or pictures...think how art touches our lives....enriching and cheering in a way no religion can. Where would we be without music, some of it written centuries ago that is still inspiring and delighting people who will never know the composer....what a wonderful gift to leave!! You truly live on then.

Id hate a big do funeral...Id like to be quietly cremated on the banks of ganges, with people chatting and cooking tea over my pyre...and my ashes cast into the great river itself. I HATE funerals in this country.all that fuss and money spent on hiding death. Its stupid. senseless. as for enbalming!! crazy waste of time, nature will always take back the body eventually.Meanwhile Id like to think we live on, resting after a hard lifes work on earth, recharging our batteries and eventually planning our next foray to earth.

This forum is just awesome! xx
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Old 07-01-2006, 06:25 AM
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alconaut
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Hey Clancy..... thanks for your thoughtful response. I am enjoying your posts so far, and I relate very much to the things you have written.

Yes, my example was a bit extreme, eh? Okay..... I'm willing to forfeit the wax mannequin for a death mask. It's an interesting concept.

I was thinking most ordinary people are forgotten - then I asked myself how much I know about or how often I think of my great-great grandma. I guess no one speaks of such things really..... rumor in the family is that she was a harlot, lol. So what? Who else was she? What color were her eyes? Did she write poetry? Was she fond of a warm summer breeze and snow that sparkles in the sun? There's nothing to remember her by.

I agree with you about how western culture masks death..... on my Mom's side, everyone looks like they're at a cocktail party. It's freakin' bizarre to me..... watching them, and seeing a family member's body lying in a coffin looking like it went through a paint booth. Our culture has definitely done it's share of damage by instilling fear of death. Not many people want to talk about it, let alone think about it.

Thank you for the book recommendations. Very interesting. I just posted on anther thread not too long ago the desire to have a past-life regression done. I'll look for that particular book.

And yes, it might be nice to leave something behind like a hope chest, full of small treasures.

I still want a nice granite memorial, with a simple eptitaph I'll write myself.

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Old 07-01-2006, 07:14 AM
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alconaut
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So what happens when a person doesn't fear death anymore? I mean, those who don't believe in an afterlife?

Do moral/ethical issues arise? I knew some people that I used to hang out with when I was younger who were atheists that just didn't seem to give a damn about anything..... themselves or anyone else. I always used to wonder how someone who doesn't believe in God or an afterlife could take this one so for granted and live so recklessly. Youth and lack of guidance, I guess.

But what about those more "evolved" individuals? Do they treasure life on earth maybe even more than a religious/spiritual person? Are they more likely to become murderers or thieves because of their views (that of humans being soulless), and because there are no eternal consequences to fear?

I know I know the answers to these questions, I just haven't thought about it in a long time. But I'm still interested in secularists opinions.
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Old 07-01-2006, 07:29 AM
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Hi Autumn!

Oh you decided to give up on the mausoleum? aw, too bad! (just teasing!

I'LL just have 'told you I was ill' on mine! No I dont want one, I'd like a beautiful tree planted ovcer me though, a fruit tree so I can nourish the fruits with my old body.....haha everyone will be high as kites for centuries!!

a clancy tree! Its funny to think that if we do reincarnate we may ALREADY have a bunch of different tombs where we have left bodies we have used in previous lives....

I dont think you should worry about having a big memorial hon....everyday you touch peoples lives and give out little gifts as your grandma did...you maythink nobody remembers her but I bet she left her mark on hundreds of people,in her lifetime, little things she said and did....

Look at the people who have left their mark on you for example....where did your musical taste come from, your style of dressing, so many things...

I look around at my house and my life and I can see its filled with little gifts from people Ive met on the journey, sometimes just a smile from a stranger warms and comforts me, like their soul reached to touch mine for an instant,and it reached above all the petty stuff we are, and made brief contact with my core self... you know that feeling....?

When I worked in mental health, a guy told me he was going to commit suicide but he was stopped by a loving smile from a stranger on the way....who never knew that, in the instant that she smiled, she gave somebody the gift of life.

Be sure that your grandma lives on via all the little gifts she gave out in her life, sometimes without knowing she had bestowed them....

XXX love Clancy
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Old 07-01-2006, 07:31 AM
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alconaut
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There's another reason I started this thread; the main reason actually. I was always too afraid to commit suicide because of my fear of death, and I was always afraid to pursue a deeper understanding of atheism because of it and past experiences with other atheists. But in my last post I guess I pretty much answered my own question (even though I didn't write it). Though lack of eternal consequences may result in a person who is more likely to commit suicide, the real answers lie in morals and ethics.

A person with a good foundation in these probably is no more likely to resort to such an extreme than anyone else.

Btw, I'm not suicidal, even though I have seriously thought about it in the past. I'm okay. It just seems that I keep that fear of death always at my fingertips in case things get so bad that I consider it again. But I realize fear of death isn't necessary, because I am a moral and ethical person with a conscience.

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Old 07-01-2006, 07:40 AM
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Hmm..... Clancy, I do believe you're a rather evolved and wise 'ol soul.

That all sounds pretty good, and you're right.

Sure is a depressing topic, but it's okay. I just needed this forum a lot more than I thought. I didn't even realize it until I noticed it was here. I'm glad you're here too, and I think you know why.

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Old 07-01-2006, 07:49 AM
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Yes,exactly Autumn, I was just going to say that.Your morality stops you from doing such things.

I have the feeling that committing suicide is a really bad thing to do...we dont escape at all...its like busting out of school before class is done...you have to go right back and resit that class til you pass! i.e you will be reborn with the same problems until you work them out. Suicide is no escape at all. I really feel this is true you know.I have no evidence for it but I feel it to be true.
Ive done some meditation studies in Thailand and worked on that problem...and that was the answer I got from thinking,meditating and exploring the idea. Meditation in controlled suroundings is very useful for working things out...not that I have everything worked out by a long chalk, but I feel my ideas and beliefs comming together....
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:03 AM
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: ( If I was so wise I wouldnt be an addict!! : (

Hey no, its not depressing really you know thinking of this sort of thing, its VITAL. We shy away in terror from death in the west, it is dressed up in strange clothes, and we are told not to speak of it....

While In India and the far east, death is there in your face all the time...I saw my first body in India...we all live close to death, but there they dont pretend otherwise, children play around the funeral pyres, and in the villages, perhaps 5 times a day you hear a funeral party comming singing, Ram,Ram, Sita, Ram and this low drumming...and then the body passes on bamboo stretcher...it seems so natural...I wasnt scared the first time.

Death is just like cleaning your teeth over there and so it should be, methinks xx
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:04 AM
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alconaut
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Right. Wow, I can't believe how far out of the loop I am when it comes to this stuff. Everything you say makes perfect sense to me. See, I really believe there's a reason you found this thread, Clancy. I was afraid to start it, afraid of what I might discover inside of me, and it turned out to be quite a bit more of an emotional experience than I thought. I'm very glad I confronted it though. I could still use an exercise in moral/ethical reasons for being a decent person - who doesn't go around performing evil deeds besides the fear of death - sort of like a CBA I guess. Not that I go around performing evil deeds, lol. Just an occasional smoke bomb is all.

See - it's stuff like this that has me wondering if I'm really spiritual like I thought all long, and that there isn't an atheist somewhere inside. I still want to do some exploring to be sure. I just never got very far with any of it. Something tells me I won't lean from being spiritual. It's not something I'm interested in fighting, because it causes me no harm.

But the idea of atheism and death is still an enigma to me, since I haven't experienced that mindset.

I love discussions like this though, I really do.
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:05 AM
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Hope you are getting these posts in the right order....
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:10 AM
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alconaut
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Originally Posted by clancy
Hope you are getting these posts in the right order....
Lol..... I type very slow, but yes, I think so.
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:18 AM
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I think you should drop words like 'atheist' and 'spiritual' when you are trying to define yourself you know....they are just WORDS and not very helpful sometimes....we are a prisoner of language I think....do you know, in Norwegian there is a word for the feeling of delight and satisfaction a woman getsfrom breastfeeding. In English there is no such word. Mothers still feel that feeling but because there is no word for it they bury it/feel ashamed.

Norwegian mothers dont feel that way, the familiar word allows them to have that feeling. Language controls us to a huge degree and I dont feel the words 'spiritual' and 'atheist' are helping you at all, they are controlling your thinking by their very exsitance...the tyranny of language!

You dont need an excersise in moral reasonning to be a 'good' person....just be you...a work in progress...you know what is right and what is wrong...we all have our own personal moral code which we constantly shape and change, isnt it??

love,clancxx
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:28 AM
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Right im gonna go and watch the quarter finals now... we are playing portugal...I just know we are going lose..we always lose at the quarters..Oh I cant bear to watch! but I have too. So I will talk to you later xx
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:28 AM
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alconaut
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Yes, I agree about language. Definitions mean a lot to me while I'm questing about. They offer guidelines and serve the purpose for clarification purposes. I'll eventually figure out what works for me. In the end, though, I believe you are right, unless I do commit to something structural wth clearly defined parameters. Eclectic creature that I am tho, probably unlikely.
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:29 AM
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Lol.... I guess I need to pick up my speed. I have to work tonight anyway, and it's way past my bedtime.

xo
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Old 07-01-2006, 10:01 AM
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Half time! 0-0! ugh I hate watching england play, it kills me.No I love it really. what do you do for work autumn?
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Old 07-02-2006, 02:55 AM
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Originally Posted by clancy
Half time! 0-0! ugh I hate watching england play, it kills me.No I love it really. what do you do for work autumn?
Good evening Clancy! Whereabouts do you live? It's hard to tell by your posts..... sounds like you've done some traveling though. In the states I assume..... no need to be specific, a time zone would be cool.

I work as a baker's apprentice for a fairly well-known national chain of bakery-cafes. It's okay. That explains why I work nights - to have fresh bagels and muffins prepared by morning for the masses. Surprisingly, its a fairly decent living. Still not where my heart and soul is at though. I just consider myself fortunate for the opportunity. All my "credible" prior work history is in the medical field, and I'm not interested anymore.

Great thing about my job is that it's a dream come true if you like to experiment with beverages. Every day I whip up a different concoction. Last night I mixed together mango puree, a Jones "D'Peach Mode", and a sprinkling of honeydew. Tomorrow I'll do something with the Chai tea concentrate. I think the Jones cream soda makes a pretty good base for beverage experimentation too.

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Old 07-02-2006, 06:21 AM
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To be continued.....
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Old 07-02-2006, 07:03 AM
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Pretty basic article obviously, perhaps laying a foundation for those less informed. I found it to be relatively balanced. The writer appears naturally biased as an Atheist, without detectable hostility toward religion which is cool. I hope to come across something a little more conducive to sinking one's teeth sometime soon here.



The asterisk denotes a personal comment I wrote at the end of the article.

Dying and Death

Atheists don't believe in gods, devils, angels, ghosts, or other imaginary creatures. Instead, Atheists accept reality. About 14% of Americans profess no belief in a religion or deity. Without religions dulling insulation, Atheists experience life's real joys and pains more intensely. We respect science and learning, knowing that only human thought, effort and courage will bring personal freedom and cultural progress. We take responsibility for our own actions, and often choose a higher standard of morality than religious people who may promote hatred and violence.* We live natural, religion-free, superstitious-free lives. We patriotically promote our Constitutional right of freedom from religion, and protest being taxed or forced to support religion.

At some point every one of us will have to come to terms with death, as it is the natural end to my existence. That doesn't mean I won't go out kicking and screaming. When a person confronts death things are put into their proper perspective and our lives and values are balanced. Does that mean I live recklessly and without abandon? Absolutely not, after all we are biologically programmed to survive. Every moment of each day counts. I live with intensity in every thought and action savoring each experience. As we confront death only then do we realize the only thing that really matters is life. So many people waste their lives on things that are trivial in preparation for a supposed afterlife. Ethics are founded on reason, justice and compassion, not a deity or religious explanation.

Some people cannot or will not intellectually reconcile themselves to the finality of death ergo religion. The power of most religions is their promise of eternal life. Telling people this life is a precursor to a better one. Religion is a haven from problems of the human condition - disease (cancer, heart, liver etc.) war, natural disasters, and acts of cruelty against each other. Theism offers the false hope of eternal life and a better existence beyond death. In Christianity the human condition is the problem of evil; man cannot escape the fall of Adam; knowledge was the original sin and still is. Because knowledge is a direct threat to all religions.

Socrates' eloquent reflection just before his state-mandated suicide: "To fear death, gentlemen, is nothing other than to think onself wise when one is not; for it is to think one knows what one does not know. No man knows whether death may not even turn out to be the greatest of blessings for a human being; and yet people fear it as if they knew for certain that it is the greatest of evils." (Plato 1952, p211.) Death is a sweet dreamless unending sleep.

*I thought the same could be said for a certain percentage of Atheists as well, but the ultimate reality is that anyone who promotes acts of violence and hatred has issues requiring intervention, regardless of religious orientation or lack thereof.

Article source:

http://64.177.238.218/UtahAA/death_dying.html
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