My paper is based on John Kearney, A Short Introduction to Philosophy called Death. I have selected to write on “My Confession” by Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy takes a look back on his life and considers it to be meaningless and a regrettable failure. His story gives us the insight into his thinking as he begins to forever change his ideas, actions, and his radical development on the Philosophy of Death.
Leo Tolstoy begins his insight by telling us a story about a traveller out in the plain who is overtaken by a wild beast. The traveller has no lifesaving option. If he falls to the bottom of the waterless well, the “dragon of death” will devour him. If he climbs out of the waterless well, the wild beast will tear him to pieces. Clinging to the twig of a wild bush, growing on the side of the well, he temporarily saves himself from the “dragon.” But then he faces the mice, one white (representing the day), and the other black (representing the night) who is nibble at the “branch of life.” (John Kearney, “Death” page 158).
This story of the traveller is a description of how we can not escape death. It is also similar to those who have been told of a serious illness of impending death. They hear the clock ticking more clearly than the rest of us. Yet, the turned up volume of ticking in our ears, should not distract us from realizing that the journey continues; still winds itself along the curves of our existence; however uncomfortable at times, toward that destination called death or eternal life.
Although we all know, the clock of our lives is in never-ending fashion ticking away, Tolstoy explains that no one can escape the “dragon.” In a sense, we are all hanging on the branch of life in a waterless well. He explains that our fear of death is the fear that our identity will be destroyed. If we could only realize and experience that our identity is an everlasting Being which cannot die or be destroyed, our fear of death would vanish. We would see death and the physical-plane life as stages in an endless journey to perfection and death as the door into far less limiting experience on that road.
As we move through our journey of life, we need to realize that our own individual lives are important and should be filled with meaning. We should live life fully, live it abundantly and find joy in our own creations. We should experience both failure and success, to use free will to expand and magnify our lives. We should go deep into our hearts, the “place” where we are connected with our Soul. Yet, instead most people take all of this for granted and live life without putting God first.
However, Tolstoy a success writer gave up his material wealth to his family and friends and decided to live a life with the “poor, the simple and unlettered folk,” rather than the rich and the learned. In his heart he believed that to find the true meaning in life, it was necessary to live life according to God’s law. He knew that he was an important portion of God’s Creation, and just as that Creation cannot be complete without each and every small bit of our lives, it cannot fulfill our potential without recognizing our place in the all encompassing vastness of God.
For me, I know that there was a period of time that I took God and my life for granted. It was a time in my life when everything seemed to be going right and there were no bumps along my smooth ride through life. My husband and I were expecting our second child and we were both on cloud nine, until one day, when we received a call from the Genetic Counselor. The news that we received was that our dearly loved child had Down Syndrome and a weak heart beat. Our entire world just seemed to collapse. That was the moment that our lives changed and we turned to God for help. Needless to say, we lost our baby at 5 months into the pregnancy. We were devastated. I remember questioning God and saying why us? We are good people. How could you do this to us?
After a few months, when the pain became more tolerable, I opened up my heart to God and finally realized that he never left my side. My prayers were answered. I just was too blind to see it. I realized that I had/have a lot to be thankful for. I have a beautiful healthy daughter, who is every beat of my heart and every breath that I take. I have a wonderful husband, who is my best friend and the love of my life.
The day I realized my prayers were answered was when my Husband and I were smiling again. We could laugh. Then started saying “I love you”…more & “I’m sorry”…but mostly we had our trust, hope and faith back in God. Since then, I now look at things more closely. I truly live God every day. I now permit God’s love to operate in side me and display it by engulfing others and helping them understand the commitment to God and our journey though life.
Our journey through life must have a purpose. To believe we are here for a purpose, we need to believe we were created for that purpose. To believe that we were created means that there is a creator. To believe that the purpose is current and active, we must believe that the creator is with us everyday helping and leading us along the path of our lives. Who is this creator that would help us along our path through life? The answer is God!
To live God; you must believe that he exist. You must have faith, which believes in the unseeable. Developing faith is like planting seeds. Even if some of our seeds fall by the wayside, we will still receive harvest. And the more proficient we become the greater our harvest of faith will be. Faith is creating a vacuum in your heart for God to fill. Faith is not only believing that God can, but that God WILL! Faith is the opposite of fear. Faith is choosing God in spite of all other possibilities. Faith is willing to die trusting.
My faith in God and the after life became stronger after reading the book “Embraced By The Light” by Betty Eadie. It was based on the writer’s near-death experience when she was a little girl and again when she was an adult. At the age of thirty-one, Betty Eadie died in a hospital after undergoing surgery. She explains how her spirit left her body and traveled in a tunnel towards a brilliant light. At the end of the tunnel, this brilliant light was Jesus waiting to greet her. He sent her on a journey to learn about the spiritual laws that govern us in life; laws that are eternal, laws that if followed would bring God’s peace, joy, and love into each of our lives.
Betty’s experience offers astonishing proof of a life after physical death. She saw more, perhaps than any other person has seen before, and God sent her back with an almost photographic view. She was given a message to share with others that has filled hundreds of thousands with hope and renewed desire to love.
If you open up your mind to believe whatever it see as a reality and believe in God; then to you, He is real! If you believe you were created for a purposeful life on earth then you do all that you can to accomplish that purpose. If you believe that you are a result of accidental molecular collisions and mutations, then you believe you are an accident and have no purpose. How can we improve a society without a true purposeful life? We can’t! How will we ever know if what we believe in is true? We won’t until it’s too late. So what should we believe now? What is the truth? You can make yourself believe you were an accident, but what if that’s not reality?
Although I believe in God, I have asked myself “What if I am wrong?” If I am wrong and I have spent my life praising God by serving humanity and helping the poor and the lost, what kind of a world will I leave behind? Even if I am wrong about God and Jesus, the world will still be a better place because I believed I had a purpose, a good purpose, and I did all that I could to serve that purpose!