Saturday, May 12, 2018

We want to know how the trick's done

English poet John Masefield died on this day in 1967. He wrote:

"In this life, he laughs longest who laughs last."

This is the last stanza of I Must Go Down to the Sea:

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over

Death is inevitable. But what is death?” asks Kelvin H. Chin, on his website about overcoming the fear of death. The answer seems to be, as far as he’s concerned, that death is anything you want it to be.

“Each individual’s beliefs and experiences are fundamental to their perspective on death,” says Chin, whose specialty is helping us mortals come to grips with our fear of death. “I respect those beliefs and adjust our discussions accordingly.” These discussions, which can be conducted privately or in public, involve helping people understand death. And why would Herr Doctor Chin consider himself qualified to do this?

“Because my own memories reach back thousands of years, and include many different traditional approaches to death,” he writes. Oh.

Chin is Executive Director of the “nonprofit” Overcoming the Fear of Death Foundation, as well as a “Life After Life Expert” and teacher of meditation. The meditation is useful in getting subjects to “turn within” and quite possibly to retrieve some lost memories that “may go back many years, even lifetimes.” The Master can get you started digging with your donation ($500 is suggested, but any is accepted). 

“Kel’s use of humor and storytelling to share insights into some of life’s thornier challenges make his presentations fun and timeless,” the website reassures us. “It’s like going on vacation with an old friend and leaving feeling lighter, more free, and with new perspectives.” (Lighter by several hundred dollars, at least—exactly like a vacation.)

Chin differentiates the two approaches to dealing with the fear of death. One, he calls the “inspiration approach,” which we all use whenever we encounter someone who has experienced the death of someone close. It goes something like this: “Aw, your grandma died? Wow, sorry to hear that. A fine lady. She lived a good life. She’s in a better place. Etc., etc.”  It’s okay, but strictly for amateurs, this approach. The one Chin favors is the “understanding approach,” which involves helping people “get their minds around it a little bit more.” This approach is not so “case-specific,” but can prove valuable in the future, maybe when the other granny dies.     

For one who presumably has experienced death multiple times, Chin is disappointingly un-forthcoming as to the details. Maybe those are only available during discussion sessions—and for a fee. Or maybe the sad fact is that death is as humdrum as life. To be fair, he does indicate that he may not have been quite on top of his previous deaths. This time around, consequently, he plans to remedy that. He’s putting together a bucket list for after he dies. He explains it this way:

I not only want to be aware of everything that happens as I transition to wherever and I do whatever on the other side of the proverbial veil, and I choose to perhaps come back in another body.”

Why shouldn’t he want to come back again? There’s a sucker born every minute.