Let’s Define Death

An acquaintance of mine and I–we live in the same cul-de-sac– both have cancer. Since cancer can so often be a terminal disease, the thought of death naturally  became a topic of our discussion. Sadly, my friend has since “graduated,” as he liked to put it, but the memory of our many discussions, especially about death, still lingers strong within my mind.

First, what is life? O.k., there are many philosophical opinions and definitions of what constitutes life, any of which can be correct wrong, or ill-defined and worthy of further discussion. But, one that had the most meaning to me was where I likened both life and death to an iPad, or Smart Phone. We all have one, so this makes an easy comparison.

The Smart Phone is a very powerful and useful tool in our lives that can perform some remarkable things like let one talk to your neighbor or a business acquaintance on the other side of the world, solve math problems or let you write letters, listen to music, and so on. But, what happens when you pull the energy source, the battery and memory card from your Smart Phone?

That’s death! Your Smart Phone has died! It still has the appearances of being whole, it still  looks like it did before: you give it a shake, “come on. Wake up!”–but something is missing: it’s missing its energy and its missing its memory. The thing is dead, completely lifeless! Without its battery (energy) and memory card (awareness), no matter how much you prod, shake or try to resuscitate it, your attempts are futile. It’s dead! You can throw it away–or bury it, like we humans like to do with our bodies.

And, in similitude, this is exactly what happens to a human when he dies: his energy, his battery–his soul–his Self– inseparable from his memory, has been ‘pulled’ from his body. An ‘Upper Room’ decision has been made to ‘upgrade’ the Self to a new realm, leaving a dead, lifeless body behind for the undertaker to dispose of.

The next question, of course, is, who, and what, exactly, is the Self? That part of us,  that decided to ‘pull’  itSelf–the energy and memory card from our ‘Smart Phone,’ that we were having so much fun with, and where does it go?

In humility, we must admit that we’re more like a computer, albeit a very sophisticated computer, than we sometimes care to admit.