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The Lazarus Cometh




What a trash / To annihilate each decade.
Sylvia Plath, "Lady Lazarus"




It is not about resurrecting. It is a matter of dying.

Because to rise is easy: it is just forcing yourself against the resistance of gravity, holding on to that friction, willing your way up naturally.

But to fall is another physics. You have to befriend gravity--entrust your life to it--and see where it takes you (deeper, deeper, deeper). This fall, if it be a true fall and not merely a slip or an accident, must be done with faith. Faith in what? Faith in finding that inevitable support and ground where you can finally rest. Like the rock, all things wish to find their resting place and there stay for all eternity. This longing for eternity: no longer physics but already metaphysics.

Rising, like living, is just too much trouble. It betrays the selfishness that rears its ugly head in all your goodness and love--all for show. And you know that to be selfish is difficult: it goes against the intentionality of the eyes which sees everything else but yourself.

That I wish to live unto forever means that I wish to love myself unto forever. Of course, there is honor in this; this is the stuff of legends and heroes and great men of courage. But to really see the world no longer with your own eyes but with the world's may be too much for some men.

This is why the wise die young and why saints become martyrs.

It's not that the world is hopeless and all the suffering and despair that it gives become too much for a feeble mind or a weak heart that then wishes to surrender itself, that is, to kill itself. This is not a question of fighting or giving up anymore; it is a question of lucidity.

And no one achieves complete lucidity like the mind that has understood everything and now becomes indifferent as to whether it should live or die. To achieve such a clarity belittles any question of existence: you feel like a god.

Because when you see the whole under the aspect of eternity, it is just a small step to conclude that you, too, are eternal--that you, too, are immortal. And an immortal god is indifferent whether it dies now or later.

Lazarus knew this.

But his poor band of weeping followers could not understand. So Lazarus allowed himself to be God's little experiment. A wonderful little magic show. He rose to the applause of the crowd. "A miracle!" He was holding his laughter: after all, men who come back from the dead must appear all serious and stern. So Christ winked back. It was hilarious. The duo would then be the only men who have risen from death, the only resurrections in history.

But we all die and rise and die and rise everyday. It is only a question of consciousness.

Most of us ignore it; a few seek it, hold it, and the rarer achieve it. I am talking about immortality.

And of course, immortality can only become possible for a man who realizes he is mortal--that he will die. The reason why most hold on to life down to the last gasp of air that fills their dead lungs is that they understand too late that life was not about the living but about the dying. About dying?

Yes--because your life was not yours but your death is in your own hands. This is the irony--the last joke--that we fail to get. And for you to have the last laugh at the last gasp, you must answer the riddle and repeat it again and again in your life. And the answer to the riddle of life is this: that you must die all the time.

You must practice dying.

How do you practice dying, you ask? This is easy.

Look at how the poet dies in every page he writes. And see him rise with the next.

This is immortality.


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