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Author Topic: Death Anxieties/Wondering if I keep getting drawn back to paganism for a reason  (Read 5592 times)

Darkhawk

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Quote from: Altair;164722
I think that's a natural reaction; our sense of self is the only thing throughout our lives we can be sure of. (And also, since that drive to preserve the self is a key to survival, I would imagine it's a response that's evolutionarily hardwired into most self-aware species.)

 
My immediate thought on reading this, I'm afraid, was to note that I have experienced several genuine discontinuities of self.  (This isn't uncommon among people who have experienced trauma.)  Not to mention the complexities of establishing what a sense of self is, which is not automatic, and which is actively sabotaged by certain upbringings.  (Which has me thinking about the sovereignty discussion.)

Which seems worth mentioning, really: surety in sense of self is not a given.  It is a thing that can be, and has been, stolen from many.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Aisling

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Quote from: Darkhawk;164834
My immediate thought on reading this, I'm afraid, was to note that I have experienced several genuine discontinuities of self.  (This isn't uncommon among people who have experienced trauma.)  Not to mention the complexities of establishing what a sense of self is, which is not automatic, and which is actively sabotaged by certain upbringings.  (Which has me thinking about the sovereignty discussion.)

Which seems worth mentioning, really: surety in sense of self is not a given.  It is a thing that can be, and has been, stolen from many.

 
Is it possible that you may be referring to two different things?

In reading Altair's post, I thought of something more visceral, more biologically driven sense of self awareness, i.e. conscious awareness that one exists.  

I'm reading what you're describing as something more as a sense of self-identity, i.e. conscious of awareness of who one is.   I'm in agreement with you that this kind of sense of self is neither fixed or certain for some people (myself included).
"All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want.
But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them."
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American Gods

Sarah

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Quote from: Aisling;164837
Is it possible that you may be referring to two different things?

In reading Altair's post, I thought of something more visceral, more biologically driven sense of self awareness, i.e. conscious awareness that one exists.  


 
There are mind states though, sometimes caused by trauma, sometimes caused by brain chemistry, where one believes one doesn't exist
Knowing when to use a shovel is what being a witch is all about. Nanny Ogg, Witches Abroad

Tom

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Quote from: Darkhawk;164834
My immediate thought on reading this, I'm afraid, was to note that I have experienced several genuine discontinuities of self.  (This isn't uncommon among people who have experienced trauma.)  Not to mention the complexities of establishing what a sense of self is, which is not automatic, and which is actively sabotaged by certain upbringings.  (Which has me thinking about the sovereignty discussion.)

Which seems worth mentioning, really: surety in sense of self is not a given.  It is a thing that can be, and has been, stolen from many.

 
The self is a really complicated thing. It's composed of narratives and stories we tell ourselves, our memories, which are not always reliable. There's also the fact that we change everyday so that the person I am now is the person I was two years ago or will be two years from now. Identity can be unstable and depends a lot on the mental state of a person. I think there's a lot about self-determination when it comes to deciding who you are.

(Bringing us of course back to the self-sovereignty discussion as you mentioned.)

Aisling

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Quote from: Tom;164842
The self is a really complicated thing. It's composed of narratives and stories we tell ourselves, our memories, which are not always reliable.

 
I'd add that it also includes the narratives and stories that others tell us about ourselves.  Input from others often can reshape the lenses through which we see ourselves.
"All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want.
But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them."
~Neil Gaiman,
American Gods

Darkhawk

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Quote from: Aisling;164837
Is it possible that you may be referring to two different things?

In reading Altair's post, I thought of something more visceral, more biologically driven sense of self awareness, i.e. conscious awareness that one exists.  


I'm not entirely sure that that can be counted on either.  I've certainly had times when I didn't really have that.  Or, if I did, it didn't really register - I've got a period of existence (I can't say life) from my early teens, duration about a year and a half, where I have... two or three memories.  Everything else is blank.  Did I have conscious awareness that I existed at the time?  I have no way of knowing that....

(I also knew for several years a young man who, sometime in his twenties, had yet to forgive his parents for having a child.  I think of him every so often.  I hope he's okay.  I hope he's figured out how to be more okay than he knew how to be ten years ago or so.)
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Aisling

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Quote from: Darkhawk;164852
I'm not entirely sure that that can be counted on either.  I've certainly had times when I didn't really have that.  Or, if I did, it didn't really register - I've got a period of existence (I can't say life) from my early teens, duration about a year and a half, where I have... two or three memories.  Everything else is blank.  Did I have conscious awareness that I existed at the time?  I have no way of knowing that....

 
Thanks for clarifying.  I understand all too well what you mean about those kinds of gaps in memory.  I draw a blank when I try to recall a thirteen month span in my early twenties (literally have no memories of it that can be recalled), but I hadn't really questioned whether, at the time, I was aware of my own existence.  Something to ponder...
"All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want.
But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them."
~Neil Gaiman,
American Gods

Redfaery

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Quote from: Darkhawk;164852
I'm not entirely sure that that can be counted on either.  I've certainly had times when I didn't really have that.  Or, if I did, it didn't really register - I've got a period of existence (I can't say life) from my early teens, duration about a year and a half, where I have... two or three memories.  Everything else is blank.  Did I have conscious awareness that I existed at the time?  I have no way of knowing that.....

 
This is a really interesting discussion for me, both theologically and psychologically. Mahayana Buddhism posits that all things are inherently empty of self - that is, the Ego (and any other attempt to construct an inherent, individual identity for ourselves that is separate from our environment and our conditions) is a construct of the conscious mind.

I should also add that I don't have any real memories from the span of about a year and a half or so from when I started ninth grade at a fundamentalist Southern Baptist school that used the ACE system, until I dropped out of grade school altogether at 16 and went to the community college to receive a GED. That span of about 20 months was the nadir of my life - an accumulation of a decade's worth of unresolved psychological and emotional issues. I just stopped functioning. I don't think this is from any sort of disassociation; I'm pretty sure my sense of self was just as strong as it is now. I think my brain just didn't want to process what was happening to me.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Emma Eldritch

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Quote from: Redfaery;164863
This is a really interesting discussion for me, both theologically and psychologically. Mahayana Buddhism posits that all things are inherently empty of self - that is, the Ego (and any other attempt to construct an inherent, individual identity for ourselves that is separate from our environment and our conditions) is a construct of the conscious mind.

I should also add that I don't have any real memories from the span of about a year and a half or so from when I started ninth grade at a fundamentalist Southern Baptist school that used the ACE system, until I dropped out of grade school altogether at 16 and went to the community college to receive a GED. That span of about 20 months was the nadir of my life - an accumulation of a decade's worth of unresolved psychological and emotional issues. I just stopped functioning. I don't think this is from any sort of disassociation; I'm pretty sure my sense of self was just as strong as it is now. I think my brain just didn't want to process what was happening to me.

 
So  in your case that's more a case of the unreliability and manipulation of memory rather than a loss of consciousness?

This is all totally fascinating to hear, btw, and I'm trying to really understand all the different experiences you guys have had.

Altair

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Quote from: Mama Fortuna;164895
So  in your case that's more a case of the unreliability and manipulation of memory rather than a loss of consciousness?

This is all totally fascinating to hear, btw, and I'm trying to really understand all the different experiences you guys have had.


What Mama Fortuna said. Aisling, Darkhawk, Redfaery, Jake, Tom...I'm finding your perspectives on this enlightening.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Aisling

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:o
Quote from: Redfaery;164863
I just stopped functioning. I don't think this is from any sort of disassociation; I'm pretty sure my sense of self was just as strong as it is now. I think my brain just didn't want to process what was happening to me.

 
This sounds a lot like what I went through.  It felt more like a shut down, rather than any sort of dissociation. This happened right after witnessing the unrelated deaths of two people that I was very close to within a fairly short time frame of each other.

I pulled out my journals from that time period and while there aren't many entries, the few that I did write didn't indicate any lack of sense of self (by any definition of the term).  Really, the content of those entries didn't seem any different than any others I've written.  Still, I have absolutely no memory of the things I'd written about, including a couple of events that weren't likely to be forgotten.  I don't know what went on in my brain at the time, other than it refused to permanently record anything that was going on.
"All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want.
But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them."
~Neil Gaiman,
American Gods

Sophia C

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Quote from: Aisling;164903
:o
 
This sounds a lot like what I went through.  It felt more like a shut down, rather than any sort of dissociation. This happened right after witnessing the unrelated deaths of two people that I was very close to within a fairly short time frame of each other.

I pulled out my journals from that time period and while there aren't many entries, the few that I did write didn't indicate any lack of sense of self (by any definition of the term).  Really, the content of those entries didn't seem any different than any others I've written.  Still, I have absolutely no memory of the things I'd written about, including a couple of events that weren't likely to be forgotten.  I don't know what went on in my brain at the time, other than it refused to permanently record anything that was going on.

 
This is a pretty consistent thing for me. I have a lesser-known and rarer symptom of Aspergers, that of very poor autobiographical memory. I have very limited memories from childhood, slightly more throughout adulthood but still not that many. It's an issue of moving intermediate-term memories into long-term memory. Like those of you who have missing specific periods, I know I wasn't dissociated for the whole of that time - I keep diaries and blogs that demonstrate my sense of self is perfectly fine. I just can't retain things. It makes me sad, but it also reminds me that who we are, and consciousness itself, is a complex and partial thing.
"We're all stories, in the end. Make it a good one, eh?"
- Doctor Who

Sophia C

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Quote from: Tom;164842
The self is a really complicated thing. It's composed of narratives and stories we tell ourselves, our memories, which are not always reliable. There's also the fact that we change everyday so that the person I am now is the person I was two years ago or will be two years from now. Identity can be unstable and depends a lot on the mental state of a person. I think there's a lot about self-determination when it comes to deciding who you are.

(Bringing us of course back to the self-sovereignty discussion as you mentioned.)

 
The socially constructed nature of memory and the self is absolutely fascinating to me. Not being a psychologist, it's not quite what I study, but it's related - and the thing that really illustrates it for me is conversion narratives. There are a lot of studies of the way that people who have converted from one religion to another experience those changes as a narrative. They form a coherent narrative out of fragmented experiences, based on what they've experienced of others' narratives and of their community's expectations of conversation narratives, as well as on their own direct experiences. Memory is a social experience, not just an individual one. That's completely fascinating to me. And it suggests that our sense of self, itself, is socially constructed and communal, too. We may not be the discrete individuals that our modern culture tells us we are. That gives me a lot of hope for a kind of survival after death, very different though it may be from my conscious experience of self today.
"We're all stories, in the end. Make it a good one, eh?"
- Doctor Who

Redfaery

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Quote from: Mama Fortuna;164895
So  in your case that's more a case of the unreliability and manipulation of memory rather than a loss of consciousness?

This is all totally fascinating to hear, btw, and I'm trying to really understand all the different experiences you guys have had.
Yep. If I really give it a good think, I can start to remember some stuff, but I've never seen much point in digging any of it out. Like Aisling said, it was a shutdown.

It was a response to the buildup of pain and trauma that had accumulated since roughly second grade. All of it exploded in my face, and I'm not interested in examining what I did when that happened, because I've mostly moved in.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Ghost235

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Quote from: Jake_;164724
But the things we do in this life still exist, still affect things after we have gone even if there is no afterlife. Who you are now  and what you do now is just as important as what happens after death.

In the larger scheme of things this is definitely true.  Our actions now, both individually and collectively are just as important as what happens after death.

However, on an individual basis I would disagree.  Consider that, at the most wildly optimistic, we are alive for 120 years.  However, we are dead forever.  Therefore, just by virtue of the time involved, what happens after we die is much more important on a personal level.

In regards to the theories forwarded, though they are very interesting, for me, at least, they miss the mark because of two points.

1.  They don't really address the root of the problem.  I am of the opinion that it is possible to cope with any and every view of the afterlife.   The problem is that the consequences and preparations for most of the systems are very different and in many cases conflict.  The things that would get you into the Muslim heaven wouldn't help you navigating the Tibetan bardo and neither of these would help if you are navigating the Kemetian afterlife(and all of these could be what happens when you die).  Furthermore, if there is no afterlife than the hundreds or thousands of hours you would spend in all of those systems would be worse than useless as you are wasting the 1,051,200 hours of your life.  

TL; DR:  It is almost a stastic impossibility that anyone will find the one correct way to prepare for and deal with the afterlife.  And that's pretty horrifying if you think about it.
 
2.   Many of the theories presented have a lot in common with what some Buddhists believe that Nirvana is, which is basically that you work and develop yourself so that when you exist your consciousness goes "poof".  This isn't considered annihilation as, according to them, you don't exist as a mind in the first place.  To be frank, if that(or most of the possibilities forwarded in this thread) is what happens then I'll side with the life extension people.  True, their quest is almost certainly futile, but I want to continue as the person that dislikes cheesecake, has a thing for somewhat curvy women, and likes the Daily Show.  At least in their case the "payoff", though absurdly unlikely, is something that I would actually want.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2014, 12:55:34 pm by Ghost235 »

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