At first thought, it certainly seems as if people love life and fear death — that they seek pleasure and avoid pain.
Yet this is not always the case. There are people who must feel themselves to be at the brink of death before that can fully appreciate the quality of life. There are people who cannot appreciate or enjoy the satisfaction of life or of happiness unless faced simultaneously with the threat of death or intense pain.
There are other people who firmly believe that the pursuit of pleasure must lead to pain, and there are also others for whom pain itself is pleasure. There are also individuals whose beliefs cause them to feel very uncomfortable when they are in a state of health — and for these individuals poor health brings a sense of security and safety.
There are innumerable stages of health, from high, sheer, energetic exuberance to lethargy and discomfort. There are, in fact, an almost infinite number of stages connected with the state of health. We could invent a completely different way of regarding human health by numbering and defining each of those stages. Instead, of course, our society has chosen to recognize and define all of those stages that are detrimental to health — stages that are recognizable because of health’s absence to one degree or another.
In my blogs, therefore, we will devote ourselves to ways of promoting health, and we will purposely avoid the specific naming of dis- eases.
It should be noted before we begin that death itself is the delivery — a deliverer — of our species and all others. It is not negative in itself, but instead is the beginning of a different kind of positive existence. It prunes the planet, so to speak, so that there is a room and time for all, energy and food for all. Because of death, life is possible, so these two seemingly opposite qualities are simply different versions of the same phenomena.
If death disappeared on our planet even an hour all of life would soon be threatened. And if all life possible suddenly emerged at once, then most surely all would be annihilated. We must admit, then, that death is indeed a part of life — and even more, we must say that death is healthy.
There is a cellular communication between or among all of earth’s living cells, as if the earth itself were one large physical body.
Our own knowledge, desire, purpose and intent tune us into some communications, physical and emotional states at the same time.
Individuals who defy death time and time again are actually more frightened of it than most other people are. Trapeze performers, stunt men and women, race-car drivers, and many other groups have a lifestyle that includes death-defying stunts on a very regular basis.
Trapeze performers may have several acts a day, for example. It seems that such individuals perform with great daring, even with a rashness that is unfamiliar to most people. Most such performers, however, are extremely regulated. They work with a carefully calculated eye, under conditions in which each detail, however minute, is of supreme importance. No matter how often certain trapeze acts may be repeated, for example, there is always the threat of instant disaster — of missed footing, a final plunge. Through testing “fate,” death-defiers try each time they perform to prove to themselves that they are indeed safe, that they can overcome life’s most dire conditions.
Life, then, has the sweetest buoyancy, the greatest satisfaction, because it is contrasted with the ever-present threat of death. Many such people do not feel at all safe living under life’s usual conditions. They protect themselves by setting up the conditions of such an encounter, and controlling those conditions, again down to the smallest detail.
Only when they pursue some death-defying career do such individuals feel safe enough to relax otherwise and live a fairly normal life outside of their death-defying careers.
I do not mean to pass any moral judgment upon such activities. Often they do permit an extremely keen sense of exuberance and vitality. It is also true, however, that such people may enjoy excellent health for years, not counting perhaps an assortment of broken bones and bruises — only to fall suddenly prone to some illness if they try to give up their activities.
This need not be the case, of course. Self-understanding and self-knowledge may be able to change the individuals’ lives for the better, regardless of their activities or conditions of life. It is true that these individuals do choose for themselves a carefully planned and regulated style of life, in which the threat of death is encountered personally and regularly; each day becomes an odyssey, in which death and life are purposefully weighed.
Children may come down with many childhood diseases, and still be very healthy children indeed. Adults may break a bone skiing, or indulging in some other sport, and still be very healthy. People “come down” with colds, or the flu, or some other social disease that is supposed to be passed from one individual to another — yet overall these may be very healthy individuals. The body has its own self-regulating system. This is often called the immune system.
If people become ill, it is quite fashionable to say that the immunity system has temporarily failed — yet the body itself knows that certain “dis-eases” are healthy reactions. The body does not regard diseases as diseases, in usually understood terms. It regards all activity as experience, as a momentary condition of life, as a balance situation. But it possesses a sense of wholeness and of overall integrity, for it knows that it continues to exist, though under different conditions, and it realizes that this change is as natural and necessary as the change of seasons if each individual is to continue to exist, while the earth itself possesses the nutriments necessary to the survival of physical life.