Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Nightmare of Eternal Return

The train hurtles through the darkness underground, and I think about a video I saw earlier in the day which reminded me how some people believe that, after death, the energy that makes up our consciousness becomes part of other beings' consciousnesses in something that could be called reincarnation, and that there truly is no death.

I know this is meant to be comforting, but I find it horrifying. The thought of living over and over, waking up every time to find you have forgotten everything you learned in the previous lifetime, having to go through the suffering ignorance of childhood and the crushing awkwardness of adolescence, not to mention the chance that you might be reincarnated poor, or in a war zone, or subject to any number of the other bum hands that have been dealt throughout the world and history, fills me with dread.

As my throat closes up in terror of the eternal recurrence of consciousness in a world of suffering, the train climbs out of the darkness and up on to Manhattan Bridge to cross over the sparkling East River beneath a sky of azure sunshine, and a piece of me relaxes, thinking it might not be so bad after all.

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