Tuesday, 18 January 2011
There is often a human longing for immortality. Such longing largely explains the cult of celebrity personality we endure: these people are guaranteed a little more of a legacy than most, the extension of the power of the personality over a bit more time, even after death. Our self-awareness married with the instinct to survive concocts a brew of grand imagination: reincarnation, heaven and hell and purgatory, all potential ways for the personality to survive forever. We attend a funeral and lament our own demise, as the story of our lives will inevitably end with death. At the funeral, we think: how much will this person be missed? Am I thinking of this person, or am I thinking of whether or not I will be remembered? How important is it that I am?
Non-duality books, blogs and speakers seem to promise, to the personality, identity, ego or however you care to label it, a guarantee of immortality. This is already eternity and infinity, they say. What you are, truly, is timeless. This is comforting. The ego laps it up eagerly. But the point of awareness that we are, in which all that seems to be appears to rise and fall in, is not a complex personality or a life story filled with highs and lows, joys and sorrows. What we are is simpler than that; but the story that seems to unfold is the great, uncelebrated gift. A gift from itself, to itself, full of sound and fury as the Bard says, and signifying nothing; yet signifying a great deal, by virtue of its mere existence. When it no longer matters whether the personality will continue to exist for a considerable amount of time, when time is only a handy reference, then the personality, perhaps, has the freedom to fully blossom in this illusory, wonderful play of life. Perhaps the point of it all has been just this. Perhaps no point is the biggest point of all.
Now, let's celebrate the enduring immortality of two 2010 celebrity deaths: Peter Graves and Leslie Nielsen. Both coincidentally prematurely white-haired, known for their early serious work, and came to comedy late in life. Below are examples of each actor's early work, and a scene from Airplane! where they exercise their comedy chops. May they both live forever.