13/40 Non-Existence

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The 77% Weekly

The 40/52 weeks-a-year, spiritual-religious newsletter 

13/40 From Rabbi Brian

Like us on Facebook Non-Existence. (Gulp!)
   

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how non-important I might be.

 

This is not a plea asking you to recognize me.  In other words, there is no need for your to contact me saying, “No, Rabbi Brian – you’re important!” That’s not the point here.

Allow me to explain what I mean about my own non-importance by sharing a thought of Paul Tillich, the famous Protestant theologian and one of the most famous religious thinkers of the 20th century. He said something to the effect of:

 

There is nothing that frightens human beings more than the thought of their own non-existence.

Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer is the founder of Religion-Outside-The-Box.

After being ordained as a rabbi, he left mainstream congregational life to encourage people to find and be with (the) God (of their understanding) through podcasts, books, tweets, and internet-based seminars.  

His day job is teaching mathematics to Los Angeleno High School students. The rest of the time is with his family.

This is true for me, and I assume it’s true for you. Nothing terrifies us more than the thought of our own mortality, our own death – the idea that someday, somehow we won’t be here.

Just to underscore how terrifying it is to contemplate our not being here, think about the dreaded “silent treatment” doled out to those unfortunate to receive it. Not being acknowledged is horrible. We hate feeling like we do not exist.

 

Intellectually, we know we aren’t going to live forever. We’re all going to die when our time comes. Most of us accept that. Nonetheless, it’s terrible to think that after I die, my shoes will still be here. How can something as simple as my shoes persist without me? 

The thought of non-existence frightens us. It fills us with existentialist dread. It inspires a sense of queasiness. We don’t want to think about it, let alone deal with it. We spend so much time, energy, and effort doing everything we can to make ourselves feel like we’re here, alive, substantial. Our possessions, our jobs, and our families all make us feel like we exist.

 

Because we can’t deal with our non-existence, we occupy ourselves with countless things. We have our “accomplishments” to prove we exist – but even those don’t validate who we are.

 

The book, Who Dies by Stephen and Ondrea Levine underscores the point that we’re much more than who we think we are. We aren’t the limited “who” that we view ourselves as.

The moral to the story of Grover in The Monster at the End of This Book is too subtle for children, but poignant for adults. It’s this: what we’re running from might not actually be so bad. I’m not suggesting we should actively bring about our own non-existence – rather, we must become more comfortable with the uncomfortable idea that we might not exist exactly as we think we do.

Spiritual-religious advice: Contemplate your own non-existence and your innate fight against it.

  With love,                                                                         Like me on Facebook

  Rabbi Brian

  Rabbi Brian  

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I thank you. -Rb 

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