Why Are We So Attracted to Death?
In one of the first companies I had the opportunity to run, one of the investors didn’t like me. In fact, he went out of his way to challenge nearly every decision I made. If I suggested we should go right, he would send a scathing letter to the Board letting them know we should go left and that my leadership skills were severely flawed. This ugly trend continued month after month after month.
I had unwittingly stepped into a lion’s den with no means of defense. The situation was incredibly stressful for me. Many sleepless nights and each day filled with intense anxiety. Are my decisions that poor? Am I a bad leader?
His ultimate goal was to remove me as CEO, with he as the replacement.
I just wanted the situation resolved so I could be at peace.
Drawn to Drama
What is it about conflict that is so engaging?
There’s a reason that television news focuses on stories on war, drama, tension, and other worldly craziness.
Not just advertising. It sells to our personal sense of interest.
If you are driving down the highway and you see a car pulled over on the side changing a flat tire, you might have some thoughts like: I hope they are OK. Does that person look like they need help or are they good changing a tire on their own? Assuming the situation seems fairly benign, you’ll drive on without a second thought.
Now imagine you see a car pulled over by two police cars. Ohh, I wonder what they did? It must be serious if there are two cops. Who’s in the car? Our sense of engagement is ratcheted much further. Why? Because we sense some drama. Tension. Perhaps some impending conflict.
As much as we say we want peace, the truth is that we are much more drawn to drama.
And there’s a reason for it.
Your Life as Whac-A-Mole
Conflict guarantees the survival of the ego.
In fact, this line from A Course in Miracles perfectly describes the situation:
Peace is the ego’s greatest enemy.
Our ego thrives on drama. It ensures consistent conflict in our lives.
Think about any time a particularly challenging situation in your life was resolved. While you may have felt some sense of closure and peace, how long did it last until the next conflict arose? Probably not very long.
It’s like the Whac-A-Mole arcade game where you have to hammer down pesky moles. Each time you clobber one mole, another one pops up. Sometimes even the same mole you already “resolved” pops back up. It never ends.
We think we just want to get through whatever current dramas and crises are facing us. We believe that once they are resolved, then we’ll be at peace.
But that’s not how it works.
The Need for Conflict
The investor’s attacks on me were ceaseless. And all I could think about was how much better I’d feel once the conflict was resolved.
Eventually, the situation played itself out and the crisis was over.
But just like regular life, it didn’t take long until the next difficulty arose.
When these things “happen” to us, we may think they’re caused by karma, bad luck, or other such “blame factors” – but never do we question that we actually set it up that way.
The ego needs us to be at war. The ego needs drama. The ego needs conflict.
That’s why we get stressed.
Stress proves that we’re in a state of conflict. Stress is like gasoline on the fire of the ego.
And when we align with the ego thought system – which we do pretty much all the time – then the ego is “us”. We need to be at war. We need drama. We need conflict.
And the ultimate conflict is death.
Drawn to Death
We believe we’re going to die. We believe everyone we care about will meet (or has already met) with death.
Death is another aspect of the war or conflict that the ego eagerly sponsors. Death keeps the ego alive.
We think when we die that we’ll either go somewhere (like heaven, hell, purgatory, etc.) or go nowhere (such as simply ceasing to exist) or that we’ll transition into another life (as in reincarnation). Regardless of which belief, death keeps the focus on “me” – we think about what will happen to “me” or people “I” care about.
The ego knows that life isn’t in the body – it’s in the mind, which is completely outside of space and time and which doesn’t die. But the ego doesn’t want us to look at the mind, because then we’ll get to the source of the ego’s existence. So the ego keeps us captivated and enraptured by the body. And death is the ultimate bodily attraction. It’s the pièce de résistance of the ego’s thought system.
This is why we’re so drawn to death.
But it isn’t real.
The End of Death
We are not these bodies. Our true nature is limitless mind, part of an infinite oneness. Words cannot be used to describe something that is beyond symbols.
What we think of as our life is nothing more than an ego projection. Like a dream figure that doesn’t realize it’s part of a sleeping hallucination. And conflict and drama are what perpetuate the dream.
When we can step back and recognize how we set it all up, we realize that we are the dreamer of the dream, not the hero of it. We see conflict, especially death, for what it is – an ego tool for rooting us further in the dream. From this state – above the battleground as it were – we reconnect with our true nature, the real “us”. Here there is no conflict, no drama, no war, no death – only blissful peace.
So as we go about our daily lives and experience the conflicts that inevitably arise as part of ego-alignment, we can use each difficulty as a means to help us question the attraction. There must be another way of seeing this. By practicing seeing the ego for what it is, we begin loosening its grip. And we experience more peace and joy on the path toward awakening.