“What is Death?”
Countless philosophers, religions, and intellectuals have pondered over this question throughout history. What exactly is death? Does it have its own existence, or is it merely an absence of life? In this context, death seems analogous to Darkness - an absence of Light. Just like light and darkness are fundamental concepts of our physical world, life and death are elemental to our existence.
But is darkness just the absence of light? Has light always existed or did it have an origin? If it did, then darkness must have predated light. From this angle, darkness seem to have its own independent existence, having been present long before light.
At some point in the history of the Universe, light came into being. Much later, life emerged. It’s predominantly (or only?) found on Earth. Even on Earth, less than 1% of mass harbors life. Does that imply that 99% of Earth and almost 100% of Universe is engulfed in death? Is our Sun dead? Is Mars dead? Are billions of seen and unseen stars dead? Then what’s this vibrant, euphoric activity of stars being born, exploding, and transforming to black holes over billions of years? Are these celestial activities devoid of life, or does our limited definition of life fails to capture their essence?
By this limited definition, when the candle of life blows out in a living being, does everything that makes that being dies out? Do their organs cease to exist? Most do, and some decay after a while. Do the compounds, molecules, and elements that compose them also cease to exist? No. They get transformed but certainly do exist, much like those billions of stars. So what really dies? That’s an age-old mystery.
Embracing this limited definition of life implies that everything preceding and succeeding our existence falls into the realm of death. We didn’t exist for eons before our birth. And we will cease to exist for billions of years, perhaps eternally, after our demise. And if one were to plot this on a timeline - a “Line of Existence”, our lives will be smaller than the tiniest point on it.
Life, in essence, is just a blip. Before this blip, there was an eternal expanse of death, and such will be the state after it, stretching endlessly into the future. Life is but a minuscule exception - a mere flicker of light on an unending stretch of darkness. Is it reasonable then, to spend our brief spark, dwelling on something that has the entire Line of Existence to itself? We get this singular, ephimeral moment in this perpetual line of darkness - is it wise to spend that flicker thinking about the same darkness? Shouldn’t we strive to see as much as we can in this brief spark of light? And then, allow this omnipresent, ever-present darkness to take its course.
The sheer rarity and transience of life makes it extraordinarily precious. It is a scarce phenomenon in the Universe, on Earth, and even within our own Line of Existence. How beautiful is to experience this fleeting gift, even if it’s just for a flicker!
For death has infinite time before and after us, while we only have a blip!
Written on January 1, 2024