Mort Mather Author Writer Organic Farmer Philosopher Thinker Restauranteur

How to improve your life and save the world.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Duality

Duality, the belief that we have something, a soul, that exists independently of the body. Descartes failed to prove duality as have all others who have tried. I shan’t try.

There is anecdotal evidence. I have some myself. Driving my 96 year old mother home from one of her last stays in the hospital she told me of an experience she had that was something more than a dream. She told of being in this wonderful place and all her friends were there. She positively glowed when she related the story. She was describing a place that she had been taught to believe was where she would go when she died. Skeptic though I may be, the way she told the story, the way she looked and the condition of her mind the rest of the time force me to believe she, at the very least, had a powerful dream. She did not make up the story to try to convince me there is a life after death.

In the hospital a few months later, on her deathbed, we had an encounter that absolutely could not have been under her control. That morning I had found her unconscious. The ambulance took her to the hospital. I sat with her much of the day holding her hand, talking to her, but got no response. The doctor and I conferred and agreed that nothing should be done to try to revive her. He told me she might hang on for a week but it would probably not be longer than a day. He had reason to hedge his bet as she had already lived four times as long as he said she would 16 years before.

That evening my daughter and I went to visit her. I expected to find her as I had left her but she shocked me by opening her eyes, looking at me and demanding, “Where am I?!” I was flabbergasted. How had she revived? Should I call the doctor and have an IV attached?

“Where am I?” she repeated with incredible strength..

“In the hospital.”

” How did I get here?”

“You were unconscious when I came in this morning and…”

“How did I get here?”

“I called the ambulance.” She just kept getting more frustrated and angry. To use one of her pet phrases she was mad as a wet hen and nothing I said was answering her questions. She gave up trying to get an answer and Caitlin had an opportunity to express her love for her grandmother and to say good-by.

What was that all about? While driving home I came to the conclusion that she was not asking about the events of the day. The “here” she was asking about was not the hospital. I believe that she had been in that other place glowing in her surroundings when she was suddenly yanked back to this world; perhaps to allow her granddaughter one last time to express her love. How did she get here indeed? Was it a dream that she was rudely pulled away from or another world? If another world, she still didn’t know who was pulling the strings or how.

Some may ask how I could not believe in a life after death after that personal experience. First, I don’t disbelieve in a life after death any more strongly than I believe in such a possibility. I can say I’m an agnostic which means I don’t know but I go a little farther than that. I don’t care. That’s not to say that I’m not curious. I find the possibility interesting and worth thinking about. But the philosophical things that are most important to me are those that guide and inform my life. Life is the period between birth and death. There is a tremendous amount of information to be dealt with in that reality. There are tremendous rewards within life.

Am I not comforted by thinking that my mother is in a nice place, a place that made her glow when she thought about it and that made her angry to be pulled away? Not really.

That may, undoubtedly does, seem cold to some. I can’t speak for others feelings. I don’t deny them their beliefs nor do I care to diminish them in any way. It may be simply that I am less feeling than some. Or it may be that I feel my relationship with my mother was whole, complete. We had no outstanding issues. I didn’t feel I owed her anything or that she owed me anything. She is gone from my life and my life goes on. She does not visit my thoughts very much at all. She is part of my history but I am living here in the present and she is not part of the present.

A possibility other than my relationship with my mother is my relationship with myself. I am at peace with myself in a way that is entirely different than before what I feel comfortable calling my rebirth. That took place about 15 years ago (I’d have to look at my writing to figure out exactly when.). It was nothing so remarkable as an epiphany. No one but me saw any difference but the change to me was dramatic. I think I lost fear though I have not been tested and really don’t care to be.

This life is so marvelous I simply can’t see any point in spending much time envisioning another life that may be better--or may be worse if you believe in a heaven and a hell. If the soul’s fate is determined by the kind of life led by the mind and body and the determination is made by the creator, the giver of life, than how better to receive an afterlife reward than to live this life, this gift, to the fullest? What better way to live it than in ways that bring joy and take pleasure? How could one be more thankful of a gift than to use it well?

Was my mother’s soul recalled briefly or did she awaken from a dream? To what purpose and why at that exact moment? Some may say it was to make me a believer. That is their reality. Since I believe it’s all about me my answer is that the experience was given me for me to contemplate which clearly I have done. Since you are reading this it may have all been so you could read about it and have it affect you however it may.

1 comment:

Crone of Stones said...

Hey Mort,
I just want to say this is a fascinating story. I'm an existentialist, I believe that the here and now is all we have. As you say, that's my belief. And it doesn't keep me from dreaming of something more. - Beth McCabe