As Shakespeare once said; the door into the knowledge is suffering!
“Every psychic advance of man arises from the suffering of the soul.”
Carl Jung, CW 11, Par. 497
As it often happens when I write about a painful or controversial issue, I lost two e-mail subscribers after WordPress published my last post on death. Yet within five days four new ones signed on! I won’t pretend I don’t suffer when a subscriber leaves. I do. (By the way, I never know their names. I only know when the numbers on my stats change.) But it’s getting easier; partly because I almost always gain new subscribers after the same posts.
Plus, my grandchildren are giving me a new perspective on this kind of suffering. Since the current school year started last month I’ve watched their struggles to adjust to new classes that separate them from old friends. Yet they’re already making new ones. What I’m realizing is that their experiences parallel mine. Losses are inevitable for every growing thing.
So I won’t apologize for writing about suffering. I’m not…
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Illustration of a black angel found in Aurora consurgens
Black: The History of a Color, by Michel Pastoureau is one of the most fascinating books I have read in recent months. There are moments in life when the need of comforting, enveloping blackness predominates all other needs; this is where I am right now. I was intrigued to learn from Pastoureau’s book that it was the imperial Rome that started to define that colour black in negative terms. Previously, it was a color much revered:
“As the color of night and darkness, as the color of the bowels of the earth and the underground world, black is also the color of death. From the Neolithic, black stones were associated with funeral rites, sometimes accompanied with statuettes and objects very dark in color. The same is true in the historical periods throughout the Near East and in pharaonic Egypt. Yet this…
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My father-in-law’s funeral last weekend has me revisiting the mystery of death. Organized religions have it figured out. Unfortunately, their explanations stopped working for me many years ago. I often wonder if they work for anyone. Are words and beliefs which originate outside of us really enough to erase our terror of death, or is something more needed? Something powerful and personal that arises from within.
Dad’s church service was beautiful and deeply moving. I was grateful for the opportunity to honor his life in this sacred space and it felt right and necessary to celebrate his memory with family and friends. But this time-honored tradition didn’t answer my questions about death.
Over the years I’ve wondered things like, when I die, what is the “I” that dies? Is it all of me, or just the physical part of me, or some of the mental parts too, or what? If anything lives on, what is it? Where does it live?
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