Sunday, 4 January 2009

The Causeway Resurrection

Anna on the Causeway - October 2008

…Resurrection. – In the crude form in which it is preached for the consolation of the weak, the idea doesn’t appeal to me. I have always understood Christ’s words about the living and the dead in a different sense. Where could you find room for all these hordes of people collected over thousands of years? The universe isn’t big enough, God and good and meaning would be crowded out. They’d be crushed by all that greedy animal jostling.

‘But all the time life, always one and the same, always incomprehensibly keeping its identity, fills the universe and is renewed at every moment in innumerable combinations and metamorphoses. You are anxious about whether you will rise from the dead or not, but you have risen already – you rose from the dead when you were born and you didn’t notice it. Will you feel pain? Do the tissues feel their disintegration? In other words, what will happen to your consciousness? But what is consciousness? Let’s see. To try consciously to go to sleep is a sure way to have insomnia, to try to be conscious of one’s own digestions is a sure way to upset the stomach. Consciousness is a poison when we apply it to ourselves. Consciousness is a beam of light directed outwards, it lights up the way ahead of us so that we don’t trip up. It’s like the head-lamps on a railway engine – if you turned the beam inwards there would be a catastrophe.

‘So what will happen to your consciousness? …What is it about you that you have always known as yourself? What are you conscious of in yourself? Your kidneys? Your liver? Your blood vessels? - No. However far back you go in your memory, it is always in some external, active manifestation of yourself that you come across your identity – in the work of your hands, in your family, in other people. And now look. You in others are yourself, your soul. This is what you are. This is what your consciousness has breathed and lived on and enjoyed throughout your life. – Your soul, your immortality, your life in others. And what now? You have always been in others and you will remain in others. And what does it matter to you if later on it is called your memory? This will be you - the you that enters the future and becomes a part of it…

Dr Zhivago, Boris Pasternak 1956

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