Pic of the day: Ego death, as graphically imagined in the anime Kamisama Kazoku (the God Family). Don't try this at home kids.
Event horizon revisited
Last year at this time I had this strange sense of foreboding, which I described as approaching a personal event horizon. It was very real to me, even though I had no reason for it. So, what actually happened?
A while after I had passed that "event horizon", I began to change. Things I had considered morally uncertain, which I had allowed myself under doubt, I no longer did. We are not talking about stealing people's silverware here, but more subtle things, in my thoughts mostly. It was as if a new seriousness had come over my life. As we sometimes say around here, I had started on a new and better life.
Except not really. Because the change was only temporary. It was not a change of heart. There was not the motivation to sustain it. There was no new understanding, no love or hate, no new goal. Just a sense that the reality I had lived in was not quite real anymore. This caused some changes in my life, mostly in my thinking, but only temporarily, for some weeks. In retrospect I think of it as a "near ego-death experience". It is not the first, though I guess it lasted longer than most.
OK, switching to meta here. Something just came up. I just deleted a paragraph in which I wrote about the concept of ego death. While I was writing, suddenly something seemed to hit my vocal cords, like a small crumb or something, and they locked up violently, rendering me unable to breathe. I choked, I tried to cough, to clear my throat, I ran and drank some water. I am obviously breathing now, but I can still sense something in my throat, and when I try to speak my voice sounds strange and my vocal cords become irritated. I can't shake the feeling that this relates directly to my writing, that it is some kind of synchronicity event, a literal act of God perhaps.
Ironically, this interpretation of the event is poorly supported by my religion, as the Bible says that "the fool and the wise perish ... the same fate meet them both", and forbids the reading of various signs such as clouds, intestines and stars. Even Jesus himself asks: "The men whom the tower of Siloah fell on and killed, do you think they were worse sinners than others?" Good or bad health, no matter how sudden, should then not be seen as a way of divining God's will. That will can be found elsewhere, in his Spirit or in Scriptures inspired by it, and even in the conscience of heathens.
But it does bring home a point. Because it was like this a year ago too. It was the sense of foreboding, of having run the course of my life, that motivated me to up my standards, to tolerate less dubious thinking. As John the Baptist (no relation to modern Baptists) says: "You snake-spawn, who taught you to flee from the coming wrath?"
But I am not sure it is all that, all the way. There seems to be a process running in my life too. One that makes me tire of the excesses of my ego. Sometimes they just fade away, as I have described many times in my journal. Other times the temptations remain, but there is a new counter-current, a desire that goes in the opposite direction, or a shame about what I have been doing. (Like about buying lots of pretty, expensive clothes.) I guess it is kinda cool that very egocentric things die off, but ... I just wrote with a friend about this. If the ego dies out of guilt or force, is it not like a robber on the cross? Only the one who died out of love did rise again as a God. Is it not like that in our lives too? If I try to impress God or even myself, in a sense I am feeding my ego even though I seem to be starving it.
I feel that in the year that has passed, so much has happened. As if I understand so much more. But do I live so much more? When I write about my everyday life, it is amazingly similar. I have not sold everything I own and given to the poor (which would probably do me no good since I don't have the corresponding love, but I bet the poor wouldn't fuss about that). I have not volunteered to read to the elderly or anything. (I'm actually not sure if we do that in Norway. Usually we just pay a bit more tax and the government pays someone to do stuff.) I can see the value of giving up my own in order to help others.. but I haven't found those others. Instead, I am helping my Sims. They are no doubt very happy about their guardian angel, but I doubt it counts. "So, Magnus Itland, what have you to show for your life on Earth?" "Ask my Sims! They lived long, happy lives and died peacefully from old age." "Eh, you seem to have misunderstood something..."
Yet I can't help but be optimistic (if I'm not too sick to). I just got the autumn issue of WIE Magazine and they had this awesome interview with a Greek-Orthodox saint who was all about ego death and the power of love. And he said: "Repentance. Recognizing our mistakes and our sins, this is the highest thing we can do. And not to recognize our sins in order to succeed at something else, but just to see the truth about ourselves." If he is right, and I suspect he may be (cfr one of those crucified robbers) then I should be optimistic. Because for each passing year, I see more and more of my own darkness. Not in order to lie down in it and despair, but to learn the truth and eventually be set free. Helping people, loving people, that is probably what I should do. But if I had done that while I was as uppity as when I was young, I would have done more harm than good. Perhaps it is still so, and that is why I am still practicing on my Sims?
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.