Of course, when you’re in that in-between zone – what the Tibetans call a “bardo” – after your life is over but before you’ve died, you have plenty of time to think – to ruminate and to wonder what will happen to you when you finally cross that threshold and enter the house of death.
Oh, perhaps before I follow that train of thought, I guess I should clarify what I meant when I wrote that line about my life being over. Obviously, either I’m still here or a ghost is writing this. What I meant was that the really active part of my life has finished – no more rapturous love affairs, exciting adventures, extensive travels, doing research, writing books, and so forth – all the activities that I enjoyed so much during my life until recent years. Yes, I still have my quieter pleasures, as I have written, but mostly I am just waiting – waiting to die. And can’t help speculating what will happen once I do.
Lately, I have been reading a little philosophy, not about life and death matters, but in doing so, it has occurred to me that so many of the world’s great thinkers are professed atheists and are convinced that when we die, that’s it. Poof! Death brings annihilation to our individual personalities and to all consciousness. We enter into a sleep from which we never awaken.
Let’s consider this roster of the world’s greatest minds who hold this view. There’s Friedrich Nietzsche, of course, who became the most influential philosopher of...