标记档案: 死亡


Life is full of contradictions.

I am attending a research retreat on mindfulness and contemplative practices at the beautiful Garrison Institute. I am learning a lot of interesting things, and meeting a lot of like-minded and excellent people – the kind of people with whom I could have deep conversation about the unreal nature of reality, unlike most people from other walks of life would politely and tactfully excuse themselves when I get a bit unreal.


Twilight Years

At some point in our life, we come to accept the fact we are closer to death than life. What lies ahead is definitely less significant than what is left behind. These are the twilight years, and I have come to accept them. With darkness descending over the horizons, and the long shadows of misspent years and evaded human conditions slithering all around me, I peer into the void, into an eternity of silence and dreamlessness. 这是 almost time.



最近的一些事件促使我重新审视这个 不舒服的话题 — 为什么我们伤心的时候有人去世?

大多数宗教都告诉我们,离开, 如果他们在生活中好, 最终在一个更好的地方. 所以悲伤没有任何意义. 如果离开是坏, 我们不会伤心任何方式.

即使你不是宗教, 不要相信一个永恒的灵魂, 死亡不能是坏事死, 因为他们觉得没有什么, 因为不存在, 这是死亡的定义.



当我听到罗宾·威廉斯的明显的自杀的消息,我是为其他人的震惊. 我想写一些事情,因为我是他的工作,热心球迷. 事实上, 我所有那些有才华的人谁可以让别人笑的粉丝, 从开始欢呼的特德唐禹哲来的每日秀乔恩·斯图尔特, 以及其间的所有f.r.i.e.n.d.s.

这也使我想到. 我们大多数人想成为富人和名人. 但是,金钱和名利似乎并不足够让任​​何人都满意. 这是为什么? 照常, 我有一个理论吧. 事实上, 我有两个. 我将与大家分享两个, 但请记住,这些是一个虚幻的博客只是理论, 仅此而已. 尽管理论, 现在, 我只是感到深深的忧愁, 几乎就像罗宾·威廉姆斯又是谁,我知道和关心. 这是愚蠢的, 当然, 但一些关于他的年龄 (它是矿山如何十分接近), 他去世的突然, 而事实上,他让我们笑出声来, 使他的临别个人损失事.


Pride and Pretention

What has been of intense personal satisfaction for me was mydiscoveryrelated to GRBs and radio sources alluded to earlier. Strangely, it is also the origin of most of things that I’m not proud of. 你看, when you feel that you have found the purpose of your life, it is great. When you feel that you have achieved the purpose, it is greater still. But then comes the questionnow what? Life in some sense ends with the perceived attainment of the professed goals. A life without goals is a clearly a life without much motivation. It is a journey past its destination. As many before me have discovered, it is the journey toward an unknown destination that drives us. The journey’s end, the arrival, is troublesome, because it is death. With the honest conviction of this attainment of the goals then comes the disturbing feeling that life is over. Now there are only rituals left to perform. As a deep-seated, ingrained notion, this conviction of mine has led to personality traits that I regret. It has led to a level of detachment in everyday situations where detachment was perhaps not warranted, and a certain recklessness in choices where a more mature consideration was perhaps indicated.

The recklessness led to many strange career choices. 事实上, I feel as though I lived many different lives in my time. In most roles I attempted, I managed to move near the top of the field. As an undergrad, I got into the most prestigious university in India. As a scientist later on, I worked with the best at that Mecca of physics, 欧洲核子研究中心. 作为一个作家, I had the rare privilege of invited book commissions and regular column requests. During my short foray into quantitative finance, I am quite happy with my sojourn in banking, despite my ethical misgivings about it. Even as a blogger and a hobby programmer, I had quite a bit success. 现在, as the hour to bow out draws near, I feel as though I have been an actor who had the good fortune of landing several successful roles. As though the successes belonged to the characters, and my own contribution was a modicum of acting talent. I guess that detachment comes of trying too many things. Or is it just the grumbling restlessness in my soul?


What I would like to believe my goal in life to be is the pursuit of knowledge, which is, 毫无疑问, a noble goal to have. It may be only my vanity, but I honestly believe that it was really my goal and purpose. But by itself, the pursuit of knowledge is a useless goal. One could render it useful, 例如, by applying itto make money, in the final analysis. Or by spreading it, teaching it, which is also a noble calling. But to what end? So that others may apply it, spread it and teach it? In that simple infinite regression lies the futility of all noble pursuits in life.

Futile as it may be, what is infinitely more noble, 在我看来, is to add to the body of our collective knowledge. On that count, I am satisfied with my life’s work. I figured out how certain astrophysical phenomena (喜欢 gamma ray bursts and radio jets) work. And I honestly believe that it is new knowledge, and there was an instant a few years ago when I felt if I died then, I would die a happy man for I had achieved my purpose. Liberating as this feeling was, now I wonderis it enough to add a small bit of knowledge to the stuff we know with a little post-it note saying, “Take it or leave it”? Should I also ensure that whatever I think I found gets accepted and officiallyadded”? This is indeed a hard question. To want to be officially accepted is also a call for validation and glory. We don’t want any of that, do we? 然后再, if the knowledge just dies with me, what is the point? Hard question indeed.

Speaking of goals in life reminds me of this story of a wise man and his brooding friend. The wise man asks, “Why are you so glum? What is it that you want?”
The friend says, “I wish I had a million bucks. That’s what I want.
“好, why do you want a million bucks?”
“好, then I could buy a nice house.
So it is a nice house that you want, not a million bucks. Why do you want that?”
Then I could invite my friends, and have a nice time with them and family.
So you want to have a nice time with your friends and family. Not really a nice house. 这是为什么?”

Such why questions will soon yield happiness as the final answer, and the ultimate goal, a point at which no wise man can ask, “Why do you want to be happy?”

I do ask that question, 有时, but I have to say that the pursuit of happiness (or happyness) does sound like a good candidate for the ultimate goal in life.


走向他生命的结束, 毛姆总结自己 “外卖” 在一本书名为贴切 “在小结。” 我也感到一种冲动总结, 要充分利用我所取得的成绩,并企图实现. 这样的冲动, 当然, 有点傻在我的情况. 对于一件事, 我清楚地取得没有什么比毛姆; 即使考虑到他年纪大了很多,当他总结了自己的东西,有更多的时间实现的事情. 其次, 毛姆可以表达了他对人生, 宇宙和一切不过如此,我会永远能够. 这些缺点,尽管, 我会刺伤它自己,因为我已经开始感受到到来的亲近 — 有点像你在最后几个小时的长途飞行感觉. 我感觉好像不管我所要做的, 我是否已经实现与否, 已经在我身后. 现在可能是一样好时间,因为任何问自己 — 它是什么,我所要做的?

我觉得我的人生的主要目标是要知道的事. 在开始时, 它像收音机和电视的物理的东西. 我还记得发现前六册的快感 “基本无线” 在我父亲的藏书, 虽然我没有机会了解他们在那个时间点说了什么. 这是一个兴奋的拉着我通过我多年的本科生. 后来, 我的工作重点转移到类似事情更基本的东西, 原子, 光, 颗粒, 物理学等. 然后就到心灵和大脑, 空间和时间, 感觉和现实, 生死 — 这是最深刻,最重要的问题, 但矛盾的是, 至少显著. 此时在我的生活, 在这里我要带什么,我做的股票, 我不得不问自己, 它是值得的? 难道我做的很好, 还是我做的不好?

回顾我的生活至今,现在, 我有许多事值得高兴的事情, 并可能别人认为我没有那么骄傲. 好消息第一 — 我已经走过了漫长的从那里我开始了一种方式. 我生长在一个中产阶级家庭,在印度七十年代. 印度中产阶级在七十年代就很差以任何合理的世界标准. 而贫穷是我周围的一切, 与同学辍学从事低贱的童工喜欢背着泥和堂兄弟谁买不起一平方米一天只吃一顿饭. 贫困不是一个假设的条件困扰未知的灵魂在遥远的国度, 但它是一个痛苦和感觉到的现实都在我身边, 现实我逃了盲目的运气. 从那里, 我设法爪我的方式向上层中产阶级的存在在新加坡, 它含有丰富的大多数全球标准. 这段旅程, 其中大部分可以归因于盲运气在遗传事故方面 (如学术情报) 或其他好运气, 是一个有趣的在自己的权利. 我想我应该可以把一个幽默的旋转它,博客它有一天. 虽然这是愚蠢的邀功这种偶然的辉煌, 我会小于说实话,如果我说我不感到自豪.


I have reached the age where I have seen a few deaths. And I have had time to think about it a bit. I feel the most important thing is to die with dignity. The advances in modern medicine, though effective in keeping us alive longer, may rob us of the dignity with which we would like to go. The focus is on keeping the patient alive. But the fact of the matter is that everybody will die. So medicine will lose the battle, and it is a sore loser. That’s why the statements likeCancer is the biggest killer” 等. are, to some extent, meaningless. When we figure out how to prevent deaths from common colds and other infections, heart disease begins to claim a relatively larger share of deaths. When we beat the heart disease, cancer becomes the biggest killer, not so much because it is now more prevalent or virulent, but in the zero-sum game of life and death, it had to.

The focus on the quantity of life diminishes its quality near its tail end due to a host of social and ethical considerations. Doctors are bound by their professional covenants to offer us the best care we ask for (provided, 当然, that we can afford it). 该 “best careusually means the one that will keep us alive the longest. The tricky part is that it has become an entrenched part of the system, and the default choice that will be made for usat times even despite our express wishes to the contrary.

Consider the situation when an aged and fond relative of ours falls terminally sick. The relative is no longer in control of the medical choices; we make the choices for them. Our well-meaning intentions make us choose exactly thebest careregardless of whether the patient has made different end-of-life choices.

The situation is further complicated by other factors. The terminal nature of the sickness may not be apparent at the outset. How are we supposed to decide whether the end-of-life choices apply when even the doctors may not know? 除了, in those dark hours, we are understandably upset and stressed, and our decisions are not always rational and well-considered. Lastly, the validity of the end-of-life choices may be called into question. How sure are we that our dying relative hasn’t changed their mind? It is impossible for any of us to put ourselves in their shoes. Consider my case. I may have made it abundantly clear now that I do not want any aggressive prolongation of my life, but when I make that decision, I am healthy. Toward the end, lying comatose in a hospital bed, I may be screaming in my mind, “Please, 请, don’t pull the plug!” How do we really know that we should be bound by the decisions we took under drastically different circumstances?

I have no easy answers here. 然而, we do have some answers from the expertsthe doctors. How do they choose to die? May be we can learn something from them. I for one would like to go the way the doctors choose to go.

死亡 — 最后的话

We all have some genetic logic hard-coded in our DNA regarding death and how to face it — 和, much more importantly, how to avoid it. One aspect of this genetic logic perplexes me. It is the meekness with which we seem to face the prospect of death, especially violent death. In violent situations, we seem bent on appealing to the assailant’s better nature to let us be. With apologies to those who may find this reference offensive, I’m thinking of the millions of people who marched quietly into the night during the holocaust, 例如. Given that the end result (死亡) was more or less guaranteed whether they resisted or not, why didn’t they? Why is there such a motto asresist no evil”? Why the heck not?

好, I know some of the answers, but let’s stack some cold and possibly inappropriate logic against these vagaries of our genetic logic. If a Bengal tiger attacks you in a forest, your best chance of survival would be to stand up and fight, I would think. It is possible, though not likely, that the tiger might consider you too much trouble and give up on you. I know the tigerologists out there would laugh at me, but I did saynot likely.” 除了, I have read this story of an Indian peasant who managed to save his friend from a tiger by scaring it off with a stick and a lot of noise. My be the peasant was just lucky that the tiger wasn’t too hungry, nonetheless… Anyhoo, I would have thought the genetic logic in our DNA would reflect this kind of fighting spirit which may improve our survival rate. Appealing to the tiger’s better nature would be somewhat less effective, 在我看来.

A similar meekness is apparent, I reckon, in our follow-the-crowd attitude toward many things in life, including our notion of morality, happiness etc. I suspect these notions are perhaps so complex and taxing to fathom that we let our intellectual laziness overtake our desire to know. My own thinking seems to lead to a dark symphony of aimlessness and lack of ethical values. I am desperately trying to find a happy note in it to wind up this series with.

该 “troubleis that most people are moral, ethical and all-round decent folks, despite the existence of death and their knowledge thereof. It is silly to dismiss it as meekness, lack of intellectual effort etc. There must be some other reason. I don’t think I will be able to find this elusive reason before the end of this series. But I have to conclude thatliving everyday as your lastdefinitely doesn’t help. 如果有什么, it has to be our blissful capacity to ignore death that brings about ethical rectitude. Perhaps the other motto ofliving in the present momentis just thatan appeal to ignore the future where death looms.

Death has the effect of rendering our daily existence absurd, 如 Sisyphus’s work on rocks. It really does make the notion of existence so absurd as to force one to justify why one should live at all. This dangerous line of thinking is something that every philosopher will have to face up to, at some point. Unless he has some answers, it would be wise to keep his thoughts to himself. I didn’t. 但随后, very few have accused me of the vice of wisdom.


Notwithstanding the certain rupture in the continuity of consciousness due to death, or a less certain rupture in that of a soul, we have another uninterrupted flowthat of life and of the world. This flow is the end result of a series of projections and perhaps the work of our mirror neurons. Let me explain. We 知道 that the world doesn’t stop just because someone dies. Most of us middle-aged folks have lost a loved one, 和, 为 all the grief, we know that life went on. So we can easily see that when we die, despite all the grief we may succeed in making our loved ones feel through our sheer good deeds, life will go on. Won’t it?

It is our absolute certainty about this continuity that prompts us to buy huge life insurances, and somewhat modulates the risk-reward analysis of our moral actions. I am not going to deny the existence of this continuity, tempted though I am to do just that. I merely want to point out certain facts that may prevent us from accepting it at its face value. The evidence for the world going on after our death is simple, too simple perhaps: We have seen people die; but we live on. Ergo, when we die, other people will live on. But you see, there is a profound difference between somebody else’s death and your 死亡. We are thinking of death as the end of our consciousness or mind. Although I loosely group your mind and my mind as “our” mind in the previous sentence, they are completely different entities. 事实上, a more asymmetric system is hard to imagine. The only mind I know of, and will ever know of, is my own. Your mind has an existence only in mine. So the demise of my mind is literally the end of your mind (and indeed all minds) 以及. The world does come to an end with my death, quite logically.

This argument, though logical, is a bit formal and unconvincing. It smacks of solipsism. Let’s approach the issue from a different angle. As we did earlier in this essay, let’s think of death as dreamless slumber. If you are in such a state, does the world exist for you? I know the usual responses to this question: Of course it exists; just because you cannot feel it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. 您 知道 it exists, and that is enough. 现在, who is this you that knows?

Therein lies the real rub. Once you cease to have a consciousness, be it thanks to sleep or death, you lose the ability to experience everything, including the existence of anything (或缺乏). 现在, we can take the normal approach and just assert that things have an existence independent of your experiencing it; that would the natural, dualistic viewyou and everything else, your experiences and their physical causes, cause and effect, action and reaction, 等等. Once you begin to doubt the dualistic worldview and suspect that your experiences are within your consciousness, and that the so-called physical causes are also your cognitive constructs, you are on a slippery slope toward another worldview, one that seriously doubts if it makes any sense to assert that the world goes on after your death.

The world is merely a dream. What sense could a dead man’s dream possibly make?