Because of its anxiety reducing properties, I started believing in the concept of willful-death — that is, we die when we want to. To further cement this belief, I was just taking inventory of the people I knew personally that died. I was determining how well their lives and deaths fit into this theory.
In my belief, people don’t necessarily say “I wish to die now”, but their predominant thoughts are of a time-to-go variety. A few people I knew committed suicide — they literally rage-quit the game. And the circumstances surrounding their lives were tragic and not fun. It’s as if they came in on crazy-hard mode and expectedly had to dump out early.
Most of the people I knew personally just got old and died when they were done. A few might have went a little earlier than expected, but not really when I think about it — they lived full lives with full story arcs. I even asked my seventy-year-old mother about people she knew that died — and they fit well within this theory.
How does this theory explain people I don’t know personally? Well, I can’t prove they existed. It’s possible that some people are just part of the scenery, like NPCs and such (non-player characters). And I don’t know what difficultly-level they pre-selected or what their interests are. Perhaps some people are really into challenging themselves.
But Rich, aren’t you crazy for making up outlandish theories about death? Well, like many high-anxiety folks, death played too prominently in my thoughts and I needed a way to get rid of the toxicity. This solves for that. I have zero death related thoughts nowadays. I present this information as a reminder to myself as to why, and as a means to maintain it.
Imagine a beach so full of perfect and permanent sand castles, that there’s no room or reason to make your own sand castle, nor seating to watch the waves. But thankfully, that’s not how beaches work. Twice per day, the tide comes in, washing everything away. Life continues in a constant cycle of creation and dissolution. Perfection and permanence are never to be attained, lest there be nothing left to do — we’d be rocks in a rock garden.
The savagery attributed to life is merely a dour perspective. Anything can be described brutally. Look at eating: a life cut short, dismembered, life-juices dripping down the executioner’s hand, down the throat of its salivating consumer, a once supple form ripped by gnashing teeth, a former host for now homeless organisms, poor, poor grape.
In the scale of universal existence, a single life is but a blade of grass — cut and recut in a perpetual cycle of birth and decay. By such measure, even a lifetime of suffering is the quick rip of a bandage, soon forgotten. Do not lament for one, nor even one-million, lest you cry over your own confusion. All things born are by their nature temporary, appreciate their existence, but discard the rotting corpse.
Do you regurgitate a delicious grape in an attempt to savor it again? Or do you simply grab another? Life is exactly as it is portrayed: impermanent. That in your limited understanding you think it otherwise, is no fault of life, merely your misconception. Look around to witness the comings and goings of all things, allowing for creation of the new and decay of the old. Do not despise, but celebrate the fleeting nature of life, appreciate why it must be as it is, and be satisfied.
With every birth begins the mechanism of mortality.
Life, like woven thread, crests above before plunging below.
Rising in repetition, weaving the fabric of rebirth.
Lives in parallel interlacing as completed cloth.
Bhagavad Gita Commentary – Chapter 11
The Archer, still captivated by his senses, asks if he can see the actual all-pervading eternal form of the Charioteer.
The Charioteer grants this request, providing the Archer with a divine vision capable of perceiving his immensity. What’s revealed, is a distressing sight for the Archer. It is not only grand, but gruesome. In the distance, he sees the participants on both sides of the battlefield, his family, relentlessly crushed and consumed by gnashing teeth within flaming mouths.
Although terrified, the Archer seeks to know more. The Charioteer explains that he is time, the destroyer — and even without the Archer’s involvement, the men on the battlefield would perish. The narrative of life has brought an end to the lives of these men, the Archer is merely the instrument that fulfills this sequence of events. And with that, the Charioteer urges the Archer to accept his role in fighting this battle.
The Archer, now comprehending the immensity of what’s before him, trembles. Overwhelmed, he asks to see his Charioteer’s familiar form once again.
The Charioteer, now in human-like form, says: Only through unyielding devotion can I be known. Understand that I am everything, and hate nothing — perform your role for my sake, and remain unbound — seek me as your goal, and find me.
Bhagavad Gita Commentary – Chapter 4
The Charioteer mentions that he taught this knowledge to the ancients, but it faded over time. Seeing his Charioteer as a man similar in age to himself, the Archer is confused by this. The Charioteer informs the Archer that he remembers all of his previous incarnations, life after life — suggesting he is not what he appears to be.
The Charioteer continues, stating that he enters into the world when it is in turmoil, re-establishing balance, preserving the best aspects while eliminating the worst — becoming a beacon for all to strive towards.
The Charioteer asserts that those who strive, following a path towards fulfillment, will reach their destination. No longer trusting their senses, they no longer experience fear and frustration — without expectations, they are without discontent — performing as their nature dictates, without selfish motivation or external influence, they are free and unattached to this world. Devoted to acting without attachment, they find peace.
Developing and maintaining certain beliefs, whether true or not, can help to diminish distress. One particularly helpful belief is the concept of reincarnation — for instance, it can aid in death related anxiety.
In this context, reincarnation is defined as follows:
The human body is a disposable container for one’s “essence” — and this essence contains one’s intrinsic qualities. The essence is in a continuous cycle of rebirth: when the body expires, the essence exits, and at some point enters a new body.
This belief can be helpful, because it sets the premise that the body is a mere husk to be discarded — should it expire from illness or injury, there’s another waiting in the wings. The body is simply a means in which the essence can experience physical life.
Also helpful, is the belief that there is an ultimate purpose behind this cycle. For instance, one’s essence may retain certain impressions from each life, improving over time, until ultimately achieving perfection, becoming indistinguishable from that which is never reborn, ultimately merging with the eternal.
When fear grips tight, forget it, let go.
If it be your time, so be it.
Let others shake in their boots,
but not you, no, meet your maker at peace.