candlecandle

Opening Message

      (continued from home page) … This issue may come to the fore in coming years as U.S. baby-boomers, who brought sex out of the closet in their youth, are now forced to decide how they will face death. Until now baby-boomers have denied death perhaps more than any previous generation. As members of the baby-boom generation now officially turn 60 in 2005, however, they may find it increasingly difficult to deny the prospect of their own death. If they face it with the daring and creativity of their youth, they may transform and prolong their lives by using their confrontation with death to become more truly alive. If they continue to try and deny death they will use up the increasing amounts energy required to do so as we age, deaden themselves by following “age-appropriate” behavior, and die before they need to.

DENIAL KILLS: The basic issue is, quite simply, our willingness to tolerate pain in order to be more alive. Most of us go through life rarely feeling our pain about our eventual death. But we do not realize the enormous toll repressing our unconscious anguish about our death takes upon us in the prime of our lives: it eats up enormous energy, ironically hastening the very end we deny. And it causes us both to withdraw from life and act out our death-pain in ways that are harmful to ourselves and others.

And this leaves us with a simple choice: to seek the comfort of denial at the cost of deadening our lives. Or to seek to be more truly alive by being willing to surface and feel our anguish.

Our concern here is how our knowledge of our death affects our lives now, not what occurs at the end of life. This website addresses neither the issue of life after death nor death and dying itself. It is possible to believe or even experience that death is an illusion, that our consciousness continues in one form or another, and still feel tremendous pain about the eventual loss of the loved ones and treasured activities that we have known in this life.

Our concern on this website is also not the actual process of death and dying, which the death and dying and hospice movement have addressed so beautifully and meaningfully. It is, rather, how we allow the idea of death to deaden our lives while we still in the prime of life. It is mortality not death. It is the concrete loss of loved ones and treasured activities in this life, not our beliefs or even experiences of what will happen after we die.

We will describe here how every aspect of our life at any age is affected by our denial of our own death: our ability to feel, our relationships and sexuality, how we raise our children, our work creativity and intellectual development. And we will discuss how denial of death is a root-cause of humanity's destruction of the biosphere, violence, poverty and our present neglect of future generations.

And we shall discuss in detail an alternative: encouragement to develop a life-affirming death awareness that can lead to heightened feeling, deeper relationships and sexuality, more meaningful work, greater creativity and wisdom, spiritual breakthrough, and greater social concern.

Our primary concern here is to support website visitors who dare to experiment with these issues through their own experiences . The question of whether each of us – and society – is better off by surfacing our anguish about our mortality and transforming it into love for life, or denying this anguish, cannot be resolved through intellectual argument. When we truly face our anguish about morality and find that doing so releases vast stores of energy and love for life, the issue is resolved. If not, it is not.

We visualize trulyalive.org as what Ernest Becker, citing Max Horkheimer, called a “community of the abandoned”. Whatever our beliefs or experience about a possible afterlife, those of us who do not wish to lose what is meaningful to us in this life – whether our children and grandchildren, opportunities to grow, love, learn and create, or just the experience of consciousness itself – have been abandoned by history, fate and the remorseless process of evolution.

And we have two basic choices, to either (1) seek to escape the pain of that abandonment by withdrawing from life so that the idea of losing it is less anguishing.

Or (2) to feel our anguish directly, allowing it to enrich and energize our experience of life.

We cannot change our basic reality: we are abandoned. But we can transform our experience of it, so that we do not face the ultimate horror of not merely death, but knowing deep-down that we have not lived the brief life we have been granted as truly and fully as possible.