Sleep and Oblivion/Non-existence

I was just noticing this morning how much some people love their sleep. And this caused me to wonder what is the difference between sleep and non-existence? (I hardly ever remember dreams, and I think remembered dreams count for a very small portion of sleep anyway) So, why is it that people can love their sleep but be horrified by the possibility of their own non-existence. I often thought/wondered the latter might be a form of narcissism and a horror at the idea that the universe could go on without us.

This whole question of the difference between sleep and nonexistence connects to a common baloney spouted by many atheists that religious people are just afraid of death so they have to invent a life after death to feel better. LOL That was always rather laughable to me, since my sentiment was always the complete opposite. Nonexistence seems like such a wonderful/restful thing to me that it always sounded just a little too good to be true – certainly the precious hope of most who commit suicide. Somehow I have to doubt that it can really be that easy – and I am more inclined to believe that the one thing we can never escape from is ourselves.

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The concept of non-existence is foreign to most people as we have the idea of us being awake and conscious all the time and I often get atheist on this point and it hits them that there is NOTHING AT THE END. Some have the idea of living on for a long time (or the illusion of forever in this life). As you have stated, we as humans who have some form of ego as in the sense of our own self awareness; cannot fathom the idea of the universe going on without us and sometimes thinking that the universe went fine before us (this just might be a me thing with the universe going smooth before I existed lol). And on the thing of atheist saying I fear death and nothing at the end I would tell them that if there is noting at the end then that’s it, poof, I’m done for and I cease to exist. But if there is life after death then that is a great worry for a lot of people if the Biblical view of the end of this life into the next is right.

Makes me wonder if you have considered a less oppositional approach to existence. Perhaps you can incorporate some of the wonderful restfulness of nonexistence into what is left of your existence? We all have buttons that can stir us up but you might see if you can disconnect some of yours, just for your own happiness I mean. I don’t mind your being a bit feisty but if it becomes too unpleasant, maybe someone else can bring that for a while and give you some well earned time off? :wink:

I wouldn’t take that for granted. Nothing is worth estrangement from ones true self which I equate with “soul”. In fact while reading Pagel’s memoirs last night I had an epiphany regarding the Christian view of God which has made me rethink my own model, and this might also be of interest to @Realspiritik.

You know in the past I’ve advocated for viewing God as a co-product of consciousness, alongside what we take to be our self. Now I’m thinking God, in the Christian scheme, makes more sense as representing all of consciousness - something that has been around a very long time. I believe I’ve heard it said that “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God.” I think that our conscious minds kick in at some point after language use becomes sufficiently complex and symbolic. But we didn’t invent it, rather it gave rise to us - and I’m not at all sure it was intended. That is, I’m not sure that the earlier form of consciousness where language originated had any intention of handing the reigns over to our conscious minds, but it happened. So my new thought is that the new co-product of consciousness isn’t God the father but rather Jesus in the Christian schema (at least as it interfaces with my own). So God sent His son for our salvation in order to lead us back to our roots in Him. I suspect the crucifixion then symbolizes putting us back on our own, only now with the grace of understanding where we come from and to whom we owe our being.

In Pagel’s memoir she shares aspects of the gnostic gospels found at Nag Hammedi which in her work as a biblical historian she had a hand in translating. She says the gnostic gospels were secret teachings which many of the authors of the bible would share only with those they felt were mature enough to hear them. In the Gospel of Thomas she shared this on her p.176:

Jesus says: If those who lead you say to you, “The kingdom is in the sky,” then the birds will get there first. If they say, “It is in the sea,” then the fish will get there first. Rather, the kingdom of God is within you, and outside you. When you come to know yourselves … you will know that you are the children of God.

Of course I can’t share the whole book which would only be a start in justifying my take on it but I share it with you anyhow for what it may be worth.

Luke 17:20-21

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

  1. Luke 17:21 Or within you

Don’t need to go to the gospel of Thomas for that one. Though the context here is more about when than where, though the two are a bit connected.

You seem to be changing this a little bit to say “God is within you” rather than the “the kingdom of God is within you.”

Hierarchy is part of the nature of life. The community can become so much more than the individual that it not only takes on a life of its own but is so much more alive (more aware and responsive) that it is not a matter of taking control away but rather having control that simply wasn’t there before. The same goes for the human mind. Its capacity for life, awareness and response is so much greater that it isn’t really taking control but simply outshining what was there before. After all, I think the reality is that the accomplishments of the mind are only possible because the mind rests on top of the so called unconscious mind. We are just beginning to understand just how much stuff is going on under the hood, so to speak.

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A fascinating discussion so far.

I remember a lot of dreams. I’ve also been following the research about the brain’s activity while we sleep. We think we’re just lying there like a bunch of blobs, but in fact our brains are busily triaging what we learned during the day. New neural connections are forged while others are pruned and discarded. Sometimes this biological process generates dream fragments we don’t remember (and aren’t really supposed to).

Another kind of dream is more emotional and is often remembered. These dreams are more about you talking to yourself about emotions you may be trying to repress or deny. These dreams often don’t make a lot of sense, but you tend to wake up with a distinct feeling (e.g. sadness or guilt) that gives you a clue about the meaning of the dream.

And then there’s the rare but unforgettable God-is-talking-right-to-you dream, which is unforgettable in its clarity and intensity. I’ve had quite a few of these over the years, and I can still recall them in vivid detail.

But dreams and sleep are a part of life. They have nothing to do with non-existence because they’re an integral part of our human biology and consciousness.

With regard to suicide and non-existence, I think it’s probably a good idea not to assume we can understand the inner experience of those who commit suicide – or those who try. “Hope” is not a word that springs to mind with regard to suicidal ideation. There are many factors that drive a person to give up all hope for their human lives, but it really isn’t something we can generalize about.

I don’t know whether you’ll like this observation or not, but my own experience as a cataphatic mystic has led me to be unflinchingly optimistic about everything that happens to us when we die. Yes, it’s true that the one thing we can never escape from is ourselves. But because we’re all children of God, and because we’re all forgiven for our human trials and tribulations by our amazing loving Mother Father God, in the end it’s not such a bad thing for us to be ourselves.

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And as I think about it, I have no problem with it being the kingdom of God which is within you. Fits equally well for me.

Excellent point. No mammal has learned to live together cooperatively in the numbers we do. Language and God (or at least the idea of God, though that caveat is intended more for others than for myself) seem to be key ingredients for the success of our capacity to live together in large numbers.

That is true. It goes to why that capacity has made us so much more influential as a species, and successful at least in terms of our total population. But the real purpose of religion seems to be its capacity to speak to us in stories in a way that can enable us to cope with our subjective isolation by helping us to feel connected to others and to what is inside ourselves.

No argument here. :+1:

The main very important difference being that you wake up. And you get to feel refreshed!