I have previously noticed that this current era is strange, even within context of the past couple of centuries of the post-industrial revolution era, in terms of matters that used to be regarded as having great significance being now regarded as utterly trivial or non-existant.
Perhaps the most extreme devaluation is the role of those who have died: the so-called dead.
We now experience a total denial that the dead have any active role in everyday life - indeed, the idea strikes modern people as ridiculous, since death is understood to be the opposite of life. For modern people, where there is death, there is no life; and life excludes the presence of death.
Yet it seems that Men of the past dwelt in a world composed of both the living and the - far more numerous - dead.
In the most remote past, the dead were apparently perceived as present 'here and now' - the dead were often seen, heard, felt... There was a social relationship between the living and the dead much the same as between the living. The presence and activity of the dead was therefore a matter of everyday sensory experience.
Indeed the dead were not dead as we understand the world. We understand biological death to be the extinction of life and Being; but in the past death was regarded as a transition, the crossing of a threshold - a change of form.
Therefore the dead remained alive but in a different form. When a person had died biologically, he continued to to play an active part in life - and this was potentially a permanent situation.
The living and the dead had a two-way interaction; they could
help or harm each other - they were mutually engaged in the making of
the world. The presence of the dead was sensed, was known - the dead
provided all manner of guidance and warning; the living might do things
to please and assist the dead.
If this were the only factor at work; the dead would tend become more numerous, more important, with each generation. But working in the opposite direction, was the dead undergoing a transformation back into life; by some kind of reincarnation. Another aspect was the potential for transformation between men and other types of Being - such as animals - the same 'soul' being able to remain a spirit, or to take-on different forms.
Needless to say, modern Man typically does not experience the world this way, and believes that ancient men did Not really perceive the dead around them, and did Not really interact with them - they were in error and only imagined this situation.
What was really happening (we believe) was that the living were doing everything... and the dead were absent - because they we obliterated by having died.
However, such an interpretation is based on two things: the absence of sensory awareness of the dead combined with the theoretical assumption that death is the end.
Of these, the assumption is stronger than experience; because the assumption that death is the end is so powerful, so overwhelming; that when a modern person does experience the presence of the dead - by seeing, hearing, touching, interacting with a dead person - then this (and any possible) perceptual experience is always explained-away.
Any perceptual or experiential account of contact with the dead is always (for typical modern Men) interpreted as being the result of some kind of pathology (an hallucination due to mental illness or sickness) - or a self-deception, wishful thinking or imagined fears.
At the extreme, the claimed experience is stated never to have happened: to be a fraud.
In other worlds, our assumptions about the finality of death are stronger than any possible experience that the dead remain present and active.
This open-up the possibility that the dead are still actually 'with us', as much as ever they were; and that the difference between ancient and modern Men is at the level of perception: they perceived the dead, we do not.
The possibility is confirmed when modern men are (rarely) conscious of the dead - despite not perceiving them... when we simply know that the dead are present. For example I may know that I am are interacting with someone dead, and may know what he wants, and how he is responding to me.
In other words, the awareness and relationship with the dead may be something that happens in Consciousness - and without Perception. The theoretical basis, the metaphysical assumptions, that explain the primacy of Consciousness, the primacy of Thinking, for modern Man; are something I have often written about.
But here I simply want to say that modern Man may, on this basis, return to the situation of ancient Man - to a situation in which ordinary everyday life is lived in awareness of the presence of the dead, and indeed in a social interaction with the dead.
Furthermore, this may lead to an awareness that the dead are concerned-with this mortal life on earth, and we are concerned with the continuing life of the dead: both sides have roles to play, jobs to do, destiny to pursue.
Further-more, we may come to agree that this is a matter of primary importance; and that the typical modern failure to acknowledge the presence of the dead is seriously damaging to us and to them - in a manner closely analogous to an act of denial of the existence of other living people, despite that they are all around us: as if, solipsistically, we regarded all 'other people' around us as merely hallucinations and delusions.
The typical modern, and absolute, metaphysically-rooted refusal to acknowledge the presence and importance of the (so-called) dead is - at root - a denial of Love; having the inevitable consequence of spiritual isolation and existential loneliness.
When modern man assumes that death is annihilation, and holds to that assumption in despite of all experience - this acts like a wish: the wish to be cut-off from reality.
And this deep yearning for the nothingness of total isolation fulfils itself in a horrible fashion, as we see all around us.