I have been thinking about fear and perhaps the greatest fear of all, fear of death.

Life and death are on the same continuum and who knows what is beyond that moment that we call death. And right there is the problem we have. We don’t know.

So really the difference between Life and Death is Knowing and Not Knowing.

We human beings, and particularly those of the Western world and culture, are intent on Knowing, are rewarded for all that we know, and for finding out more stuff for others to know. In short, we are obsessed with Knowledge and thus are very uncomfortable with not knowing.

It therefore seems to me that our collective fear of death is not of death itself, but of the Not Knowing. That line we call ‘death’ is simply the demarcation between Knowing and Not Knowing. Between the end of what we know and the beginning of what we don’t.

So where does religion and/or faith fit in with this? Having a religion or faith, a God or after-life or some other structure for bringing knowledge to the unknown is comforting. We can bypass the fact that we don’t know and just accept the story we are told as fact. Is that what faith is? Filling the void of Not Knowing with religion?

Maybe the faith is in accepting that while I personally don’t Know, someone else has arrived at the knowledge and I can take that on as the knowledge that covers that great unknown. There is a map. I didn’t make it but I can follow it.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could find a way to just Be In the Void of Not Knowing, without searching to fill it with Something. I wonder if people who have lived their lives leaping off into the unknown, not in the pursuit of knowledge but rather simply to experience that unknown, will be more able to pass over that line into the Not Knowing with more equanimity.

There are people who carefully research and venture into the unknown as if with a map and light, with time and the promise that you can go back and start again if you don’t like the answer. They travel with Ipods, cell phones and AAA. They know when they are leaving, the direction they are traveling, how long they will be gone and the route they are taking back. They have a destination, a plan and an expected outcome.

There are also people who leave a job, a home, a person with no clear idea of what comes next; people who take a side-path on a walk, who say ‘let’s go and do’; who plunge into a relationship on nothing but their instincts. There are artists who tackle a blank canvas, a slab of marble with no plan for the outcome, writers who let the pen travel across the page before they know what the story will be, and dancers who move to the music without notating the steps. There are people who can say ‘I don’t know’ without embarrassment or feeling inadequate.

These are, I think, the people who are more likely to be able to view that upcoming marker with something more like curiosity rather than fear.

When we survey the plethora of structures for guessing what comes next, it is enormous. Rather like asking questions about spirit and souls and ghosts. How can we know which is right? So do we throw them all out? And say it is all nonsense? Or do we admit that we cannot know which is right so rather than assume all are wrong, then what if we simply allow that one may be right?

You don’t have to know which one, but the odds are good, aren’t they, that something is there? And after all it doesn’t really matter in terms of this world of Knowing with its bizarre reality. Perhaps they have it right, those ones that say ‘This is the dream and life is what is next.’

Ah, but you are looking for knowledge… It is incredible how that abyss of Not Knowing, that void, is so alive with the sirens who draw you to demand Knowing. And then to demand more time to find out, and then more time to be sure…

Take this moment, now, to remember how, when you sit quietly in a meadow or on top of a huge red rock or by the sea, sometimes you allow  the enormity of all before you, of which you are just one tiny part, to enter as a welcoming presence, a comfort, not a drowning.

So, as you walk inexorably toward that little line between Knowing and Not Knowing, between this life and what is next, that little line called death, how can you approach it without fear of ‘not knowing’, without grasping at structures that offer a ‘knowing’ in lieu of the void?

Let your Soul open you to Spirit. Sit in the place of grace and peace. Simply allow the great sky, the endless sea and the trees to open up to you, embrace you as you pass into the unknowing. Practice sitting in the place of Not Knowing, the ease of being in the void through your art, through time in nature, and with time alone.

The line between Knowing and Not Knowing will become a tiny blur, something to pass through rather than to fight against and finally to which you succumb. Instead, embrace the journey and venture into the unknown with a curious and joyful heart. Death the marker will be no more than a signpost on your journey.

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