‘Dialogue with Death’ – An Excerpt from ‘Dialogues With the Abyss’

Scott Mulhern shares a conversation with life’s archenemy and one of humanity’s greatest fears

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

-Mark Twain



The very word, abyss, can send a chill through the mind. It lacks particular definition but it evokes that which is vast, unfathomable and immeasurable. One thinks of dark and frozen space or black water whose depths are literally unknowable. Invariably, whatever or whoever inhabits these infernal and uncharted spaces arouses our deepest fears, passions and occasionally the madness which normally lies sleeping deep in the subconscious. In fact, it seems to me that the abyss is that which lies just beyond the borders of our sanity, our longings, and the familiar illusion we think of as our lives. The abyss begins at the point beyond which control is lost, beyond which who we think we are ceases to exist; it is the silence into which our minds will not go, the perfect stillness in which our egos, strutting and arrogant, lose their bearings. It begins at the threshold between the known, the predictable, the familiar and the randomness and chaos of the unknown. The abyss is the place on ancient maps where cartographers ominously wrote: Beyond Here there be Dragons. I have entered into many dialogues with the abyss
in this book- silence, time, writing, addiction, madness, even death. As I finished the conversations I discovered something I’ve sensed throughout my life- the more we encounter our fears the less frightening they become.


I am S – Death is D

S: Why do people have to die? D: To prevent over crowding . S: That’s not funny .
D: Neither is overcrowding .

S: Why do people have to die? D: They know it’s time .
S: Babies?
D: Their choice.

S: How can you say that? It’s disgusting.
D: It’s true .
S: When do they make this choice?
D: They’re never really babies. Or anything else. S: What is that supposed to mean?

D: It’s all just appearances.
S: You mean illusions.
D: No, I mean appearances. They’re not illusions.
S: Appearances of what?

D: Whatever you become in time.
S: What does time have to do with it?
D: There’s no time before what you call birth or after what you call death. S: What do you call them?

D: I don’t . They’re both just doors . I’m just a door .
S: Is that why people are terrified of you? Because you’re a door?
D: They’re afraid of change.
S: And that’s why you’re called the Grim Reaper?
D: I’m not grim. Being stuck in a body is grim. Especially an old one.

S: That doesn’t explain babies dying.
D: When they do they have to. They’re done.
S: Done with what?
D: This experience. Consciousness has no age.

S: What about the parents?
D: There’s really no such thing. Everyone and everything is just a door. S: A door to what?

D: Whatever consciousness knows is next. You died as a baby.
S: No, I did not. I’m right here.

D: Then where is the baby you? The child? The young man? Everything you were before now is dead as you call it. Where’s your grief for them?

S: I got to go on.

D: But not as a baby. The baby you is dead and gone.

S: That’s just semantics.

D: No, it’s the truth. Human beings agree to lie about many things. They actually dread the truth.

S: You’re the one with all the power. It’s easy to call us names.

D: I have no power at all. If a taxi picks you up and takes you where you want to go does it have power over you?

S: Then somebody does and it’s not us.

D: That’s why you’re liars. S: Why do you keep saying that?

D: Because you control the time. Trust me. You summon your assassins. I know. I don’t come until your ready to change or die as you call it.

S: Then what happens when we die?

D: It depends.

S: On what?

Then you have the audacity to tell me you’re afraid of death when you’re really afraid of life, of love, of real beauty, of the light within all of you…

D: On consciousness. You’re attachment to what you thought you were. That determines what comes next.

S: Why aren’t we aware of all this if you say it’s true?

D: Because you never stop distracting yourselves from what is true. Be totally quiet and it will be clear to you.

S: What about people we leave behind?
D: They don’t really exist. They’re just ideas. S: My wife doesn’t exist?

D: Which wife? Her as a baby? A child? When you met her? Now? The dust she’ll become? Which wife? There is no fixed wife. She’s never the same. No one is. The lie you cling to is that people are perma-nent. Show me one that is.

S: But I love people.

D: What do you love? Memories? Images? Everyone you love is dying every second . Can’t you see that? Everything is dying every split second and you’re not screaming with grief over that . Only when I take their last second .

S: But when that last second comes it’s unbearable.

D: It’s just one last appearance you try to make permanent. The sun went down while we’ve been talking. Millions of things have died on this planet alone while we’ve been talking. Where’s your famous grief?

S: That’s not fair.

D: It’s true. You couldn’t care less about death. Why don’t people grieve about whatever died so they could be born?

S: What did die?

D: NOTHING! Something changed. And your childish minds, your egos want to create terror around change. It’s pathetic and it’s dead wrong to be afraid .

S: Then what are we supposed to do about our fear of dying?

D: Forget about dying! What are you going to do about your fear of living? So few of you ever even give it a thought.

S: Then what are we supposed to do?

D: Suck the life out of every moment because it will never come back. That’s what you are supposed to do.

S: How do we do that?

D: Get rid of fear. Get rid of it! Look at it. You live and die every moment of your lives and you spend your whole life being afraid of that last tiny moment when I come. Believe me. You have already missed trillions of perfect moments while you were consumed by your fears. You’re sound asleep and you fear me? Human beings are narcissis-tic jokes.

S: We have great love and beauty!

D: Really? When? Sometimes. Capital S sometimes. You give your love to each other and take it back on a whim. Because of conditions you set for that love. You don’t love – you have contracts with each other! Most of you don’t love anything. Not really.

S: My God, you certainly have a low opinion of human beings.

D: No, my friend, human beings have a very low opinion of human beings. You fool with life, you chase after nothing: money, power, sex, what you call total bullshit. You kill, you lie, you cheat. You’re such cowards that you create gods so you can shirk your responsibility to life itself. Then you have the audacity to tell me you’re afraid of death when you’re really afraid of life, of love, of real beauty, of the light within all of you, your power, which you constantly misuse, and the peace which your behavior makes a mockery of. You’re not afraid of death! If there was a devil and there isn’t it would be the lie that you love when you don’t – not yourselves and not each other. You’re just attached to sorry little memories because if you could see the beauty of everything for one second you’d never be afraid again. Believe me, without death there’s nothing but accumulated rot! Your only fear should be of not living totally and facing life as endless dawns and not the endless night falls you all so sadly dread.


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Flickr image via wayne’s eye view

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