Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Introduction: What is the Death of Birth and How Does it Affect Our World?

The question of what is the “death of birth and how does it affect our world” grants us access to a conversation that has been on-going since the days of Socrates. Though this conversation still remains much in the dark with many artists trying to convey their own understanding in these matters. This article aims to provide the reader with a brief overview, as well as some more areas which make up this debate. It will help the reader to formulate their own opinions and to move the conversation forward.
In Buddhism there are two truths, or two bodies of knowledge. There is the truth of suffering, in this case the causes of suffering; and the truth of cessation, in this case the causes of cessation. The second body deals with the causes and conditions where one can find liberation from suffering. With these two truths we can see that birth is a very immediate cause that leads to a cycle of death which ties us back to timelessness with no beginning or end. As we go along, the list of causes and conditions that leads to rebirth follows a cycle of six realms or destinies. “Birth is the worst of all forms of suffering”
(Amitabha Sutta)
These are then the causes: (1.) The karma which will lead to rebirth; (2.) The karma which was performed in a past life, and so on and so forth. An understanding of these causes serves as a guide for those who seek liberation from this cycle.

birth is a curse and existence is a prison
birth is a curse and existence is a prison

The Death of Childhood and Why We Should Fight for It

What is the death of birth and how does it affect our world? This refers to what happens when a child becomes aware that they exist. It also refers to what happens when that same child figures out why they exist. The moment becomes pivotal because it is the first time a child has ever processed the idea of “I Exist” and “I am being created” and all the ensuing knowledge attached to it. It places the child in a position of power, where there is potential for pain, but also potential for joy. This is the moment that many, if not most children spend most of their lives dreaming about. The possibility of the experience being pure joy or pure pain opens up a world of possibilities that we will explore throughout this article.
It is true that the human race has spent most of its existence avoiding this moment for as long as we have been in existence. It took thousands of years of pain and sacrifice to finally begin to accept death, but now that we do, we realize just how beneficial it is. It offers us the potential to change who we are and what happens to us. There is also the possibility of being good or evil, a potential for good within us along with all the possibilities that come with it. Now let us look at the death of birth, which is the same thing as the death of childhood.

birth is a curse and existence is a prison
birth is a curse and existence is a prison

Existence as a Work in Progress via The Maze Game

As mentioned, it is widely believed that Plato’s Allegory of the Cave was an attempt to convey this moment of power being given to a child. In this allegory a child is born into an underground cave with no knowledge of the world outside. Inside the cave there are prisoners who have been chained inside the cave. These prisoners are placed in darkness and forced to gaze at the images on the walls they were made to be aware of. The prisoners are only given a small part of their reality to see. They are not able to see how they fit into the whole, they do not know if their reality is real or imaginary and if their existence is real or imaginary. The prisoners are unable to see the reality of the whole so they do not know if they have a soul or not. The child could not see this reality, but because of the child’s birth and their ability to dream, the child is able to escape from the cave and start living in a world outside of the cave.
As children we are told that our existence is similar to this allegory, chained or restrained by forces or powers outside ourselves. We are told that our existence is a prison, one that we will eventually be able to escape from but not before we are punished for the crimes of our pasts and the sins of our ancestors. This punishment is called birth. We are told this as children when we are still young, naïve, and gullible enough to believe it is true.

birth is a curse and existence is a prison
birth is a curse and existence is a prison

What are the Benefits of Pretending that You’re Already Dead?

The prisoner’s reality is a strange one because it does not allow them to experience any events outside of the cave. The only way for them to learn about the outside world is for another prisoner to tell them about it. In Plato’s allegory, this prisoner is forced out of the cave into the light where he sees the images on the walls that were made by the prisoners before him. However, whether this story is true or not is irrelevant because what we are discussing here is how many still believe in it. After Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, we are left with the question of “What would it be like to exit the Cave?”

birth is a curse and existence is a prison
birth is a curse and existence is a prison

Conclusion: The Utopia or Nothingness?

When a child exits the cave they become aware of their existence. In Plato’s Allegory, this was the experience of the prisoner who escaped the cave in search of knowledge and experience. When we imagine a child exiting the cave we are still unable to envision what it is that they experience when they come out of the cave. It is a moment where we are no longer bound by our chains and yet we do not know what this feeling is experience like. In the same way, when we imagine the child in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave stepping out into the light, it is easy to see how it can be hard to know what they are experiencing. It cannot be seen directly or felt directly yet it can be imagined or at least assumed they feel something.
We have not identified the experience of the child in Plato’s Allegory, but we have made an assumption that it is not being-itself. Being-itself would be a state that transcends the body and suggests that it is separate from the body. It would also suggest this experience is without causality as it allows us to imagine or taste/smell other things but could not feel anything or move anything. While it might be reasonable to assume that the child in the cave is not being-itself, it could suggest that this is a state of being that can only be reached after one is born.

birth is a curse and existence is a prison
birth is a curse and existence is a prison