“What is seen is transitory; what is unseen is eternal.” — 2 Corinthians 4:18
“Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death.” — Frank Herbert, Dune
Life is presented to us through the five senses. What we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch are communicated from body to mind, the mind processes the information, and we call this Perception.
How does the soul learn? Certainly the soul must learn and evolve, because none of us—in terms of our true, inner selves—are the same today as the day we were born.
Emotion must be the primary sense mechanism of the soul. Happiness, excitation, love, sadness, anger, and fear do as much to inform and change our souls as the five senses of the body do for our minds. Emotions are intangible, but they are sensations nonetheless.
The above quote from the Christian Bible is often repeated at funerals to comfort the family and friends of the dead. We need reassurance that something lives on after the body dies, something intangible and separate from both mind and body, what we call the “soul” or “spirit”. Why? Because we fear death, or, more to the point, we fear change.
But why do we fear? Why do we refuse to accept that change is inevitable? Is it because, in our society, any in-depth discussion of death (which inherently involves confrontation of troubling emotions) is restricted to acceptably safe times, places, and outlets? Why is it that we only speak of death when someone dies? We say that a body can be imprisoned, but a soul will always be free. But how free can our souls be if we are afraid to actively engage them in our lives? Or, in the case of the faithful, our lives outside of church. One certainly feels emotions regardless of whether one is sitting inside a fancy building dedicated to a deity, but it seems that we have pushed aside the most difficult questions of our lives like a bill that we don’t want to open.
Could it be that we in modern, western society have become so far removed from the reality of impermanence, entropy, and mortality that we have forgotten what it means to be alive? Have you noticed that in your day-to-day life, everyone around you is trying desperately to pretend that they aren’t human? We all try so hard to do what we’re supposed to do just to get by, there is no time left for being human. We are just cogs in this machine we’ve built. Our modern society has become a juggernaut that feeds on our life energy until we’re too numb to realize how numb we are.
What a difference it would make if, when someone asks us “How are you,” rather than mindlessly reciting “I’m fine,” instead we said something honest.
“I’m happy that you’re my friend.”
“Tonight is date night and I’m really looking forward to it!”
“I’m not feeling loved today.”
“The new project manager makes me so angry!”
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to provide for my children.”
Would we put out more positivity into the world? Would we get the help that we need when we need it? When our triumphs and troubles are unseen, what good can come of it? You may save yourself from a moment of vulnerability, but only at the expense of the potential to become more united with a fellow human being. If we were all more honest with each other about our feelings, we could avoid so much trouble in the world. Isn’t that worth overcoming a momentary fear?