On Death

Tue, Dec 26, 2017 

To Dennis et all:

Hello friends.

In the last few days I’ve been in a number of discussions with friends all over the world about the authenticity of a material on the subject of death. Entitled intriguingly, “Lo que se siente al morir” this text has circulated widely with an explanation that it’s based on notes of a talk given by Silo. I’ve got no idea how this misunderstanding began or circulated but it is interesting from a number of points of view. 

The following personal reflections are largely from on an email I just sent based on those interchanges about the document in question. 

It of course includes my own unsubstantiated claims about what N said:

“I can say with some certainty that this writing — despite the claims about it — has nothing to do with Negro or his teaching. I say this, not only because it doesn’t sound like him to my ears. I also don’t think it reflects what he taught about psychology, death or transcendence. If I understand it correctly this writing seems to claim that after death the psychological “I” continues as it has been in life. From a Siloist perspective this seems odd considering that Silo described the “I” as, “the maximum illusion of the consciousness” that is, the greatest illusion of an organic machine, evolved for getting laid, finding food, throwing rocks and evading tigers, etc.  That’s perhaps what makes it sound to me like something from a traditional spiritualist view point. But the main reason for my unusual degree of certainty in this matter is that it proved possible to trace the material in question to the the writings of one P.M.H Atwater. If interested you can find out more information about her and her writings online.

Events have shown us that as time goes on we’ll increasingly find things erroneously attributed to Silo. This particular case is especially interesting because the material was circulated along with the names of specific friends of ours, who it was claimed, heard it from another old friend who heard it from Silo. More often we see things simply attributed to him with no such explicit purported “chains of transmission”. As you know, attribution of a statement to someone does not make the statement, or the claim. Nor does claiming that I knew someone, who heard it from someone, and so on.

These words might  be as wise as something Silo would have said. They may be wiser, they might be total crap. But they are not his. That’s one reason for Silo.net and his Obras Completas (note the last word). Of course he said, and wrote other things that aren’t on that site, or in that set of writings, but we have to consider these unofficial writings as apocryphal at best. That doesn’t mean they aren’t true but it does mean,  it seems to me, that we have to judge their worth, not by who said them, but according to one’s own elements of judgement, how they stand up to other facts, and other arguments.

Of course that’s always true, but N’s insights have proven themselves so true in my life that I have to think long and hard when I find myself disagreeing with something he said. And I have to  consider, more than I usually do, that I could be wrong! Which is always a shocking idea to me.

Anyway things (even if true) remain no more than beliefs until we know them ourselves. 

That reminds me of an event that has guided me for years when it comes to that theme of knowing and believing. It is not recorded on Silo.net or in Obras Completas so I won’t be offended if you take it with a grain or more, of salt. In the following incident my memory of the time between the questions may be wrong but the answers are almost literally what he said. 

I had been asking N about a powerful experience I’d recently had, I wanted to know whether it had involved purely psychological phenomena, or whether in some way it was transcendental. He answered surprisingly directly. But I wanted him to expand more on the subject. So some days later I asked him again. And again he gave the same short direct answer. I tried again 6 months later and he looked at me very seriously and said: What does it matter what I tell you? You will decide whether it is true or not according to your judgment, your beliefs. You are like someone walking with cloud of smoke around your head. You have to wake up, clear your eyes, and see what is real. Then you’ll know.

Fittingly,  when it comes to death and transcendence one thing that I heard him say that shocked me and like magic changed my perspective on death and many things occurred while we were joking around. This took place one evening in the South of Italy in 1981. A small group of us (Salvatore P., Ishak B,  Aiyyappa B., Nicole M., Petur G., and I) had spent weeks together preparing to accompany Silo at public rallies around Europe and Asia.  In that intimate atmosphere we often peppered him with, sometimes inappropriate, questions which often lead to surprising chats and usually a lot of laughter. For a few evenings we kept returning to questions about death, a subject  to which his answers to us always seemed elusive and playful (though interesting and thought provoking). Then in one moment he said: “People can never know what death is before they die. If they did everyone would go out and kill themselves”. In one blow that answer turned upside down assumptions and beliefs I wasn’t even aware of had. I have treasured it since then.

I hope things are very well with you and yours in these “hectic” times

Un fuerte abrazo,

Danny

PS I’m not sure why, since it is different in form and intent, that anecdote about waking up and seeing  always reminded me of the famous allegory of the Buddha’s about the man shot by an arrow (wikipedia has an article about it under the heading Parable of the Arrow) .