Today in my class I had my students complete the end of conditional sentences so they were true for them (like, ‘I won’t stop studying English until…’ or ‘I’ll always live here unless…’ etc.)
And for the sentence:
‘I’ll have more free time when…’
I caught one of my students finish it with:
‘…when I die.’
Yes. So fucking good. And any excuse to talk with my class about death – excellent. And it’s not to just talk about death, because more discussion, questioning and acknowledgement that we actually know nothing about it would lead to more people actually living their life. And living every day like it yourself, because I’m not shitting ya, it could.
‘I’ll have more free time when I die.’
So, as the last thing before I sent them home, I wrote it up on the board for everyone to see and asked, ‘Okay what happens when we die? Do we have a soul? Where’s it go? Do we just rot into nothing or do our bodies or minds (or both) go somewhere?’
As the earthy portion of me has its origins from earth, the watery different from a different element, my breath from one source and my hot and fiery parts from another of their own elsewhere (for nothing comes from nothing, or can return to nothing), so too there must be an origin for the mind.
– From Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
My students had a mix of answers. Some said we just die and that’s it. Some say we go to Heaven or Hell or someone else said our soul lives on.
I love it. Because death is something so many of us are terrified of, and it influences so much of our lives, but how can we be scared of something that we a) not only haven’t experienced ourself and b) we don’t even know if it’s actually a bad thing (could shit be even better afterwards)? Is it the end or is it just the start? (one of my other students said that this life might just be a test, for the one after). Will we actually have real answers when we die?
Look at it this way; if it’s impossible to get pure knowledge of anything in the company of the body, then one or the other of two things must hold: either knowledge can’t be acquired, anywhere, or it can be, but only when we’re dead; because that’s when the soul will be alone by itself, apart from the body, and not until then.¹
– Plato’s Socrates
Is it possible that once we shake off these pesky, faulty physical bodies that constantly break down and then really break down like a hunk of shit in later life, that our souls are free to just do their own thing?
So long as we have our bodies, and our souls have that sort of contamination to contend with, we’re surely never going to succeed sufficiently in acquiring this thing that we desire; and that, we declare, is the truth.²
– Plato’s Socrates
And by the way, what’s with the 21 grams thing?
Based on the experiment by Dr. Duncan McDougall that at the moment we die, we lose that exact weight (and it didn’t happen with dogs or mice, just humans).
Fuck knows. But we’ll all find out in pretty much no time. In less than a blink.
¹ From Phaedo in The Last Days of Socrates (translated by Christopher Rowe)