The Worst Things in Life are Very Costly
Since when? I don't know. Was I just born this way, or reborn this way? That's one reason I hesitate to offer advice to people, since it may be analogous to advising them to be 5'11'', or have blue eyes. Taking credit for certain things might be just another form of imaginary control.
But I do distinctly remember -- this was when I was teenage moron -- that Death was a real gamechanger. It wasn't a result of any morbid preoccupation, just the spontaneous understanding that Death places everything in perspective and renders 99% of our activities, ideas, hopes, plans, and dreams rather trivial -- just distractions at best. If you really know you're going to die, it changes everything, every day.
I remember reading Ernest Becker's Denial of Death with great enthusiasm. In it he confronts the paradox that man is simultaneously fashioned in conformity with the Absolute, and yet, must die.
In other words, unlike any other animal -- or god, for that matter! -- our very lives are made of transcendence, even while knowing that in the end we return to dust. What's up with that? Was it really all just a dream? How can an animal awaken to this marvelous world of truth and beauty, only for it to be trumped by an Absolute Negation? How can the negation be more real than the thing it negates?
Why am I on this line of thought? I have no idea. Now that I'm on it, though, might as well follow where it leads.
I guess it all started when Vanderleun linked to a resonant passage by Sippican Cottage:
"In a hundred years the most important man you ever met is anonymous. In a thousand everyone is. We cobbled together a life around the table where we break the bread, and for a few thousand times we were as one. I saw your face in our children's faces. You said you saw mine. The universe passed the plate, and we put in our offering. We are poor, but it's enough."
Which provoked in me the thought: In the absence of death, humans would have no perspective on anything.
If terrestrial life were eternal, it would render everything meaningless, in the sense that value is usually a function of scarcity. Which means that the existentialists -- including Becker -- have it precisely backward and upside down in suggesting that the meaning of death is the death of meaning. Which, when you think about it, makes no sense, for how could meaninglessness mean anything?
Of course, it took at least another decade for me to figure this out: that death is indeed the key, but not in the way existentialists imagine.
Since Death is the existential key to the siddhi, it should come as no surprise that it has a central place in Christianity. For only in Christianity does God submit to Death, which is the only thing that can transform it from the existential negative of Becker and other existentialists into an ontological positive that shapes and transforms our lives in a beneficial way.
To be "born again" is to die to the old existence -- to give Death its due, and surrender to its grim reality. We die before we die in order to be reborn on another plane where death does not rule the night.
It is interesting that in one of the Upanishads, Death is the teacher. This is certainly a step in the light direction, but learning from Death is a very different thing from God taking on and becoming Death.
In the Katha Upanishad there is a kind of parallel to the Abraham/Isaac story, in which a father prepares to give his son to Death. Nachiketa journeys to the house of Death, where a courteous Mr. D. proceeds to instruct him on the ways of the cosmos.
Nachiketa says to him that "When a man dies, there is no doubt: Some say, he is; others say, he is not. Taught by thee, I would know the truth."
Death replies that "even the gods were once puzzled by this mystery," which is "subtle" and "difficult to understand." Similar to Jesus' forty days in the desert, Death offers the boy various inducements to abandon his quest, but Nachiketa holds fast. "Tell me, O King, the supreme secret regarding which men doubt. No other boon will I ask."
Please note that this is not strictly analogous to Christianity, which is a religion of descent, i.e., Incarnation.
Rather, yoga is a naturalistic religion that teaches the way of ascent from our side of the vertical. I won't rehearse all the details here, but the key to the innerprize lies in essentially dying to the world and realizing the indwelling nonlocal spirit behind or above the local ego, i.e., the unbroken circle of ʘ behind the partial and fragmentary (•). Does it work? Of course it works. But at a steep price.
One of these prices is the separation of spirit and body, in direct contrast to Christianity, in which the soul is the form of the body.
From another perspective, we might also say that God is the form of the cosmos, without limiting him by such a conception (i.e., he is not only that form, for he is the container that cannot be contained).
All of this is related to our discussion of economics. I hope. After all, in the ultimate sense, it is through the "economy" that we try to postpone death while we spend 70 or 80 years putting our affairs in order.
Through the unplanned activity of the free market, we are provided with various goods -- food, shelter, medicine -- that no individual could have planned. Free markets are very much analogous to life, which must involve both anabolism (building up) and catabolism (tearing down).
For example, a recession is nothing more than an economy tearing down a bunch of inefficient businesses and redistributing a lot of poorly allocated resources.
The leftist believes that this Death can be avoided by propping up and resuscitating the latter with a flow of stolen revenue. It works, in the same way that giving cocaine to a dying man will perk him up for awhile.
Likewise, our public education system has long been in its death throes, but liberals will never pull the plug and allow it to go out with some dignity.
Truly, our whole system of government is on the brink, like a severely obese patient. Some say the patient needs to lose weight. Others insist that if we just shovel some more food in, he'll be okay. Who is right? Who is denying death?
Does foreign aid work to resurrect dying economies? Does the War on Poverty heal dying subcultures? Or do these nations and cultures simply become addicted to the treatment? Yes, there is a "Keynesian multiplier," except that it multiplies pathology, dependency, and dysfunction and puts off the d'oh! of wreckoning.
For I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat and snicker (Eliot). But why was he holding my candy bar? We'll never know.
This is why there is an ironyclad law at work here: no matter how much the government spends, it must always spend more because of the negative multiplier of liberal programs. This explains, for example, why my son gets such a better education at a funding-starved private Catholic school than he would in a public system that spends much more money.
So liberalism is always a lose-lose proposition, in which they want to have their crock and make us eat it too.