A brief discussion with a Buddhist leads to a rumination about distress in general–not just the distress of conscious humans, but that of every tadpole and blade of grass, and even of inanimate stone being worn down by the flow of water, and the molecules of water striking blows against that stone as they are carried past by the current.
On the basis of 200,000 years of collected human thought and the experiences of our own lives, it seems clear that personal death is perfectly final. There is no afterlife, no reincarnation, no separate world where souls and spirits continue to exist after a living thing dies. People have fabricated speculations about such things in order to comfort themselves and other people, and ruthless types have exploited such speculations in order to acquire material power, influence and wealth, but even devout Christians agree that they are just speculations. Christianity is about faith rather than proof, and a poll once showed that about 63% of Christians don’t want proof of God’s existence ever to be found, so that they can continue to base their lives on faith. That’s neither here nor there and is outside the scope of this post. Those of us who choose not to bury our own minds alive in self-abasing subservience to faith are completely right in accepting that personal death is in all ways and absolutely the end.
The Buddhist (in comments here) stated that human suffering serves the purpose of helping us grow and learn, and is therefore salutary. You can read my response for yourselves. Personal death causes not only our consciousness to vanish permanently and forever, but thereby wastes all of our learning, which means that it wastes all of our suffering as well. And this extends to everything that has ever suffered, including those much-buffeted molecules of water.
One thing I must mention is the unimaginable suffering of the sun. We know now that the sun is a vast nuclear conflagration that devours itself in a frenzy of self-destruction in such physically huge proportions that we can’t even wrap our minds around it except through the most superficial and flimsy of scientific concepts. The sun also emits solar wind, which is tantamount to the sun tearing off chunks of its own flesh and flinging them out continuously in all directions. The earth and all inner planets are completely wrapped in sunmeat. Yet having our earth wrapped in this sunmeat is the precondition of the earth being even habitable by any type of life. I really don’t want to ruin your Christmas in advance by discussing on September 24th what the vomitously revolting implications of that are. If you have a mind to think about it, go ahead, but if you’re smart, pretend I never even said anything.
Yet I can’t pretend to myself that I don’t know what I happen to know. The unimaginably repulsive underpinnings of nature stick with me, and the only relief I get is laughing heartily at all the airheaded treehuggers who worship nature as if it were actually something benevolent, not realizing that nature is rooted in self-harm by the sun so extreme that it is beyond our ability even to form a concept of it. It was in fact such airheads that, through the means of their various temples and covens, that robbed me of my future and my entire life in the distant past. What is left to me in the fewer than five full years before my fatal heart attack is the laughter, and the knowledge that they were always fools.