Since my psychosis death has been on my mind. It comes and goes, in varying degrees: Some days I think I will die that day all the time, which could be caused by being run over by a bus, being violently mugged or just by any other cause of death you can think of. Heart attack, dying in my sleep, dieing while I’m dancing, dying because of what someone said or how that person said it, you name it.
I have been getting less triggered over time, with longer lasting intervals, but this feeling of impending death is still sometimes present. Medication helps though.
Even though statistically I am not likely to die for a while, I have been thinking about what might happen after I die more often for over two years, which has its implications for how I should, could, and would live my life.
Here are my thoughts.
You were born. What came before?
You are going to pass away. What comes next?
Different religions have different viewpoints on this. I have had psychedelic experiences that told me something. Short story: I don’t know what came before and comes next, but I’ve been philosophizing and figuring out my stance through thinking, talking and listening.
I have been thinking that I have a soul (1), which has lived multiple lives (2), and that I am, through the decisions I make and thoughts I have (3), micro and macro (4), on the point of a crossroads (5) which will decide (by weighing all my decisions) the fate of my soul. This fate can be that my soul is saved (6), or that I mess it up through bad choices and actions and that my soul has to dwell in a state of longing, a feeling of want (7).
1. I Seem To Have A Soul…
Through meeting people of various sorts, who had various viewpoints on how to behave as a human, through aging and the contrast between how I behaved in the past and am behaving now, I’ve concluded that I have a soul, and that mine is still maturing.
Boiling it down to the action taking part of you being just neurons in a brain seems too empty to me. The feeling of catharsis I have gotten through various experience, from making art to taking psychedelics to having good sex to just hugging a friend suggests to me that there is a deeper something, a soul or higher level of peace, love and unity (hey, that’s a phrase from the sixties!) that you can achieve through being a good person.
I, as a human, have been looking for peace for a long time, often feeling restless or guilty. Now that I seem to be learning from my lessons and start to think I know how I can achieve peace, at any rate actively think about my actions (Will this lifestyle make me happy? Would I like it if what I am thinking about doing to another happened to me? Am I doing this for the good reasons? What are the long-term effects? What do I need right now?) I have been getting the feeling that I am on this world to improve.
I have been brought up with going to church, and even though I didn’t get the exact meaning of Mass in Tagalog, there was something about church that made me realize the importance of socializing, connecting with others, sharing food and drinks, being merry and fighting through adversity and loving other human beings for what they are.
A (for me slightly) religious upbringing has its perks: It creates boundaries to what you can and can’t do to others, it makes you aware both of your insignificance as an individual but also of the effect of the choices you as an individual make. Of course it depends on the religion you are brought up with, but the bottom line is: Whether you are doing a good deed for Jesus or for better karma, it’s a good deed.
The roots of the idea that I have a soul may be of a religious nature, but it has been reinforced by taking magic truffles. Through the connectedness and thankfulness I have felt while experimenting with psychedelics in my early twenties I have felt a (of course subjective and not rational) feeling that I even though I am trying sometimes, I can still do better to improve the life of others and my own, and that the world will be better off. Psychedelics have also taught me that there are things I want in life, that that’s okay but that it’s also okay if you can’t always get what you want (hey, that’s a line by the Rolling Stones!).
This principle does not only apply to me and my own subjective feeling of what is my soul, but I think basically extends to everything that has energy. According to Napoleon Hill (not very scientific, but very motivational) the universe consists only of matter and energy, and I think that everything that has energy inside of it wants to strive through a better situation. I think this because it takes energy to improve yourself – living as a human being used to be mainly about food, shelter and reproduction, which is already a step up from dwelling hungry on this world without a home and a mate.
So yeah, basically, I think I have, like, a soul.
2. …Which Has Lived Multiple Lives…
So why would I have lived multiple lives?
I don’t remember my moment of birth – I don’t remember everything that must have happened – but I still think that it happened, because I remember certain moments of growing up, laying in a cradle looking up at people who are looking at me, toys that I had, and people telling me about things that I have forgotten. Apparently I have been to the Philippines when I was 2 years old, don’t remember a thing about it. It seems to have happened though. I have never seen a baby pop out of thin air, and have never seen a live birth, so I have never perceived where babies come from with my own eyes, but all the evidence leads to babies coming out of women with fat bellies.
I’ll skip the part of how a woman gets that fat, but if you’re ‘in the know’ you must admit that it seems to be an act which takes at least some amount of energy on both sides, if you’re doing it right.
When I was in primary school recycling was a huge thing. We were taught about how the Earth was being polluted from cars, plastic and factories and were taught how we could reduce our carbon footprint. Recycling, the repetition of a lifecycle (see where I’m going with this?), encompassed then: Re-use your plastic bags until they are worn out, through them away in a container designated for plastic so that the nice garbagemen who show up every week at ungodly early times can take your old, worn-out plastic bag and use it for a process which will create a brand new plastic bag.
- Plastic bags are being made by beings that are more sentient (of course there are human exeptions) than they are through application of energy to matter;
- I can’t really rule out the possibility of there being a higher sentient being than I am, thinking that I as a human am the most sentient being in the universe is quite arrogant;
- Is being a human not merely a matter of matter (his or her (which pronoun should I use?) body), and energy (the soul)?
- Why wouldn’t a higher sentient being be able to mix energy and matter and create life? Just for shits and giggles, or because life is useful?
- If matter can be recycled, can energy be recycled too?
If plastic bags can be recycled, why can’t souls?
3. …And That, Through The Decisions I Make And Thoughts I Have…
Through living life, as we all do, I have learned that actions have consequences. This is basically what karma is. They can be positive or negative, depending on how you look at it.
I have seen these two sides, positive and negative, when I used psychedelics. Literally saw them. My field of vision was diagonally divided in a red tint, a green tint and a neutral tint.
Whenever I looked at one of the three tints, my thoughts became aligned with that energy spectrum. When I looked at the green tint my thoughts became positive and went out to peace, being in nature, music and connection. When I looked at the red tint my thoughts became about smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and the wants that I had. When I looked at the neutral tint everything seemed flat, like it was positive nor negative. It just was. I was confronted with my addictions, but also with the parts of me that are good.
It made me realize in the moment that my thoughts are actions, are a form of energy and thus have consequences. It also made me more aware of the fact that I am able to steer my thoughts, emotions and actions, and that this can be used to improve my level of connectedness to others. My thoughts can also be used to destroy myself. “Action, reaction”, as my father taught me.
The steering of thoughts and the ability to take action upon that thought were strenghtened while I had my period of rest: I had a rythmic lifestyle, read a lot, did excercise, slept a lot, dabbled in the arts, and thought of how I wanted my future to look. After my period of reflection and readjustment I’m now in my phase of action: I’m working towards making it happen. Some days are better than others but there’s a positive trend.
I get a lot of positive feedback on my changed lifestyle. Respected virtue does good things with a man, it’s better than being infamous for throwing wild parties. Both behaviours are reinforcing, that means that if people laud you for a virtue you tend to try to be even more virtuous, and if you throw a party people still talk about months years later you’ll be tempted to keep throwing parties. I tend to look at what I can still improve though, berating myself for every pack of cigarettes I buy, calling myself lazy if I don’t work out every day, being disappointed at my lack of self discipline if I masturbate.
There are some things that I discovered I should stop doing and different things I have to keep doing in order to get more out of life.
Things to stop doing
- Splurging on things I don’t need
- Waking up late
- Hanging out with people who don’t challenge me
- Pulling all-nighters (I’m pulling one right now)
- Ignoring my boundaries (getting better at this)
Things to keep doing
- Paying off debt so my net worth gets in the positive
- Keeping in contact with people I can have an actual fucking conversation with
- Being warm with people
- Staying sober
4. …Micro Or Macro…
I tend to catch myself when I’m thinking I’m going to die and then switch to positive thoughts, like a prayer or the simple, effective “Everything’s always going to be alright”. I tend to catch myself when I’m thinking negatively about a situation or a person, and then try to make that thought positive by thinking he, she or it isn’t that bad or by looking at the upsides. I rarely shun smalltalk with people who I see at work, asking about their day, telling them about mine and hopefully making it (as well mine as theirs) a bit brighter.
I find that this has had a lot of positive effect on my macrodecisions, too. Since I’ve become more positive I am more willing to do things that are good in the long run.
So what is my goal? The goal is to improve your own soul by improving the souls of others. This can be done in various ways, and I seem to be going the ‘guy who has experienced things, seemed to have learned from them and is willing to tell about it’ route.
Of course there’s also a fear of what I’m going to be if I don’t keep doing more good than bad things: I could be a loser who dies alone of lung cancer while still living with his mother at age 40. It’s a worst case scenario, but it could happen.
Striving towards the goal, not the fear. That’s the motto.
5. …On The Point Of A Crossroad…
All the small moments of my life have consisted of choices. Do I smoke this cigarette? Will I do my 20 pushups now or postpone them? Will I take a walk? What will I eat tonight?
All the big moments have consisted of choices, too. Do I ask her out? Do I lend this money? Which study will I do? Will I cut contact with this person, if even temporarily so that things can get better in the meantime?
I am always making choices. That’s what I do. That’s what you do. In research there is something called informed consent, which is consent participants give to a researcher to conduct research on them after they know the ins and outs, the risks and the benefits of the research. I have given this kind of informed consent myself when a pharmaceutical institution wanted to test the effect of amphetamines on bodily function and memory on me. Was great fun.
Making choices can be fun, as long as you make good choices. If you make bad choices, remember those and learn from them. I am currently in the process of learning to quit smoking, which is not at all easy, but will benefit me for years to come. I am also learning that fruits have to be ripe before you can eat them, in a metaphorical way of course, I learned the literal lesson when I was 4.
My dreams are often about choices too. On the verge of being lucid dreams, I often encounter situations in them in which I choose between good actions and bad actions. These dreams can be pretty banal and clear, or have something that sounds like a reactive storyline and deeper meaning. I have pretty vivid dreams.
The feeling that I’m always making choices is also evoked by how people say certain things. Example: After I had smoked a cigarette, I had a conversation with a customer at the gas station. We were talking about weekend plans. He let something slip along the lines of “Yeah, you gotta celebrate”. I thought to myself: “Was I truly celebrating a brief moment of rest by smoking a cigarette? Was being disrespectful to my own body necessary?” and my thoughts drifted from there.
6. …From Which Point My Soul Can Either Be Saved…
I’ve been pondering over how souls can be saved. I remember reading some Buddhist pamphlet which said that until you break out of the ∞-cycle, your soul won’t get satisfaction. I’ve been seeing these symbols often, on coverarts of albums that I’m listening to, on tattoos on people’s bodies, in rubber bands which just happen to lay down in that position.
It made me think that this life, I am moving in circular motion.
To get out of this never ending cycle, I have to wait to get saved? Earn my salvation? Make the most out of this life so I at least move onto an even better life (my life is already pretty great, compared to that of what I’ve seen of a child in Africa)? There are a few options.
If I do a lot of good and my karma reaches ‘positive status’, I might get at least get sent to a better place after I die. That also means:
7. …Or Damned.
If I do bad, I might get sent back.
I would still be restless, not at peace, longing.
It would be another opportunity to try again, to mature, to get better, to move to a better plane. I might return to this life. Who says you can’t live a life multiple times?