(Photos copyright Athena Tacha 1992)

What is our passage into death? Like a raindrop re-merging with the ocean? Does our spirit, the energy generated by the organized sum of our cells (and molecules and atoms), just blend with the totality of the universe? Or is our "soul" like the focal point of light under a magnifying glass, which can simply shift focus and re-integrate itself with every part of the universe?

face on death bed

face after death

Where did the life that was lighting your face go? It seemed to leave behind an empty vessel, ready to be taken over and consumed by living "others" -- the billions of micro-organisms (bacteria, yeasts, fungi) that inhabit every human body, many of whom may perish with it. You will always live in my memory, but that is only until I die too.

Gene information can survive in our progeny, like the seed of a flower, and join the continuum of life systems on our little planet. But what about individual spirit? Can all the coherent energy that was created during our life through the elaboration of our brain's infinite connections -- what we consider our mind or consciousness -- fade into nothingness in an instant? Like a flame when the match is burned?

A rose's fragrant petals fade and dry out in a few days. A squirrel's life can be squashed instantly under a passing car. Am I more than a leaf in the forest, or a pebble on the beach? The earth is no more than a grain of sand in the desert of the galaxy; the galaxy no more than a raindrop in the ocean of the cosmos.

Relativity has taught us that time and space are elastic, matter and energy interchangeable. Quantum physics confirms that we only perceive a tiny part of an unimaginably complex reality. Do we get dispersed into generic energy of subatomic particles when we die? Do we thus join another state of existence, and possibly re-enter a larger kind of awareness?

I would not mind giving up the joy of the senses that span our tiny segment of reality. I would almost welcome being relieved of my self to become one with the rocks, the trees, the clouds, the waves of the ocean; to even dissolve into the endlessness of total existence. It is the fear of the unknown that feels so awsome; and, even worse, the fear of pain and indignity... But they may be the price for our re-uniting with universal BEING.