When I see images of cemeteries, I think of all the human beings who have lived in the past. All looking out on to the world of their time and place on this Earth, and experiencing the struggle of life. The same or similar thoughts come to me on those occasions when we have visited cemeteries or mausoleum-columbarium complexes. There are many dead, or the remains of the dead in such complexes: persons who died in old age, middle age, as young adults, or even while very young as small children.
How many billions of permutations of humanity have experienced life and then death on this planet in the past, say, 10 or 12 thousand years?
As well, what of the 7 and one half billion souls now alive today?
In some cemeteries, black and white photographs of the buried are mounted on gravestones and protected by strong plastic. This serves to personalize the grave and put a human face on death. Here, the casual visitor to a cemetery is shaken out of his or her abstract thoughts of death by the particular, the individual, the personal occurrence of a human who has died.
As to our experience in this material, physical universe, we are mere fleeting sparks of consciousness in the cosmic ocean. As to what may lie in the spiritual dimension, we can only choose to believe or not believe what the various religious and mystical traditions tell us. Of course, for a few, spiritual experiences while in this world provide them with confidence about post bodily death spiritual life. (Faith does have much value, and there are very sound arguments for God’s existence.)
There are a few words from a song by the Canadian rock band, Rush, that capture this idea:
Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
That’s far too fleet
Lyrics are from the song, Free Will, from their breakthrough album of early 1980, Permanent Waves.
What would be a proper image here? A spiral galaxy? Rain drops gently splashing into the surface of a pond? Energetic atoms colliding in a heated gas?
We will go imageless for this post.
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