On Our Way: The Final Passage through Life and Death (Life by Robert Kastenbaum

By Robert Kastenbaum

How do our rules approximately demise effect the way in which we are living? lifestyles has frequently been anticipated as a trip, the river of time sporting us inexorably towards the unknown country--and in our day we more and more flip to delusion and magic, ritual and digital fact, cloning and cryostasis within the desire of eluding the truth of the inevitable finish. during this booklet a preeminent and eminently clever author on dying and loss of life proposes a brand new means of figuring out our final transition. A clean exploration of the ultimate passage via lifestyles and maybe via demise, his paintings deftly interweaves ancient and modern stories and reflections to illustrate that we're constantly on our approach. Drawing on a impressive diversity of observations--from psychology, anthropology, faith, biology, and private experience--Robert Kastenbaum re-envisions life's forward-looking development, from early-childhood bedtime rituals to the various small rehearsals we degree for our ultimate separation. alongside the best way he illuminates such moments and ideas as changing into a "corpsed person," happening to earth or up in flames, respecting or abusing (and consuming) the useless, dealing with "too many dead," conceiving and reaching a "good death," project the adventure of the lifeless, and studying to pass though the scrimmage of way of life totally figuring out that Eternity doesn't fairly are available a dressmaker flask. Profound, insightful, frequently relocating, this examine loss of life as many cultures look ahead to it or process it enriches our figuring out of existence as a unending passage.

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What will happen if I go out? Who might be out there waiting to come in? Am I safe on this side of the door— or anywhere? Where is it safe? Nowhere? The door itself is but a familiar example of a potent distinction made since ancient times. For example, a circle etched in the earth with a pointed stick can also separate the mundane from the sacred, the safe from the dangerous. What this passage also illustrates is our dependence on everyday objects and events in order to conceive of death as a “concrete universal,” that is, an abstraction we have brought down to ground level and human scale.

Here we start to get an inkling of what a good death might entail. Middleton makes it clearer: A man should die in his hut, lying on his bed, with his brothers and sons around him to hear his last words; he should die with his mind still alert and should be able to speak clearly even if only softly; he should die peacefully and with dignity, without bodily discomfort or disturbance. The when of dying is also important: He should die at the time that he has for some days foreseen as the time of his death so that his sons and brothers will be present; he should die loved and respected by his family.

Is your mind real? said Death. Of course my mind’s real, said Kleinzeit. then so am i, said Death. there i have you, eh? 7 This brilliant passage from Russell Hoban’s Kleinzeit illustrates the tensions and ambiguities of the door. What will happen if I go out? Who might be out there waiting to come in? Am I safe on this side of the door— or anywhere? Where is it safe? Nowhere? The door itself is but a familiar example of a potent distinction made since ancient times. For example, a circle etched in the earth with a pointed stick can also separate the mundane from the sacred, the safe from the dangerous.

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