Hell as a state of mind

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I am tired of being scared and I know you might be too. Not that there isn’t a lot to be scared of in this world today, especially now. Between the non-stop headlines about the skyrocketing number of new cases of the COVID-19, the number of subsequent deaths, entire families being wiped off in Italy, suicides, the upcoming curfew, conspiracy theories about the COVID-19, news about wars and nuclear power plants and terrorists and assassinations and civil unrest and economic uncertainty and political doublespeak and insane weather and an environment that is becoming unhealthier by the day; there comes a point when its too much to deal with and thinking about it accomplishes nothing more than sending you to bed with a cold cloth on your head. The only relief I feel from the above statement is that ISIS suspended all of its terrorist operations until this coronavirus pandemic is done with. How considerate of ISIS?

I am at that point, with a constant cold cloth on my head refraining as hard as I can to spread any more of this fear. I have done well in refraining to post anything corona-related on my social media platforms. The government can do that just fine. I am scared too, or at least have been. Being the conspiracy enthusiast that I am in my free time, I wonder if this is the end for humanity. Is it the end for me or the end for some people close to me? I cannot help but think that the human soul and life is indeed a labyrinth. A complex maze of tunnels and chambers of questions without answers. How will all this play out in the end? Is this the apocalypse? I ask myself.

It is dark inside my mind. A few days of isolation will do that to you. I am on a normal day what you would call an overthinker. I sometimes even overthink my overthinking. Now imagine what would happen when I have all the time in the world to think about a possible apocalypse on the horizon. Isolation and overthinkers are a terrible combination

As I write this, I am listening to JP Saxe’s if the world was ending. Yea, that is how dark it is here. It is a song that evokes emotions in ways you haven’t felt before especially in times like this for people like me. It reminds me of someone. In the song, JP asks, “If the world was ending, you’d come over, right?” I can’t help but wonder what her response would be. Would she come over? Would she want to spend her last minutes on this planet wrapped around my arms as badly as I would want to spend my last in hers? I think she might be my penance.

In that instance, I am tempted to call or at least text her and tell her that I love her out of the blue. I refrain because I am in one of my phases. Deep into another one of my spastic reactionary self-improvement programs. It is some kind of a death and resurrection cycle that I am trapped in. It happens every new year and around my birthdays. My birthday was two days ago. I have been nursing a terrible hangover for the last 28 hours or so. So, I decide that texting her in that state would be just about to cross the line between self-empowerment and douchbaggery.

It is difficult to keep such emotions in check especially when you are intoxicated and secretly wishing deep down that she was there with you to celebrate. It is a special kind of hell. And yes, relax, I am fully aware of my debilitating emotional availability. Spending 8 hours a day, five days a week, for four years with most of your colleagues as women will do that to you. I sometimes miss the emotionally unavailable me from a few years back. But what the heck? Whatever you feel matters only to you. Whatever you do about it matters to the world. Your life and your relationships are a sum of your choices and actions. I am however not sure if I have made the right ones? But who ever does?

I have for that reason adopted the motto, “Sentro Ergo Sum.” I feel therefore I am. In my rare moments of quiet, I confide that I care about people. Perhaps even a tad more than I should.

However, in the last couple of hours, I have tried to halt my train of dark thoughts for a moment. Stop everything and just for a moment think about the present and what I might actually be missing out on. Or what I might be putting myself through. I have been reading Dante Alighieri’s literary masterpiece and exploring not only his visions of hell but also the spectacular art, history and landscapes that played such a significant role in his life and writings. I am reading The Divine Comedy; an epic poem he wrote which portrays hell as an elaborately structured realm populated by entities known as “shades”- bodiless souls trapped between life and death.

I know you are wondering whether the said train even halted in the first place because this is some next-level Guantanamo bay shit. I said I tried. Keyword.

Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or evil; the silent unconscious, unseen influence of his life. This is simply the constant radiation of what man really is and not what he pretends to be. Crazy is what I am, hard as I try to hold on to my sanity. My brain is always taking me places and this time I do not object. I just want to enjoy the ride so hop on.

Blinded by an illusory version of success, we go through life never questioning anything. We just exist, barely living. We never take a moment to think about what the pastor says in his summons on Sunday. If we compared our states of mind with the descriptions of hell that religions all around the world have promulgated, we find they are exactly the same.

Religions say that hell is a place of punishment, a place of fear, pain and suffering. A place where fire burns you. Fire is generated by emotions that come from fear. Whenever we feel the emotions of anger, jealousy, envy, or hate, we experience a fire burning within us. We are so to speak living in hell. I am burning inside. If you considered hell as a state of mind then hell is all around us. Your pastor or spiritual ‘daddy’ as you call him may threaten you that if you don’t do what they say you should do; you will go to hell. Bad news! We are already in hell, including the people who tell us that. True, others can put us into a deeper hell but only if we allow this to happen.

How many times do we pay for one mistake? The answer; a thousand times. A human being is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake. The rest of the animals pay once for every mistake they make. But not us. An antelope with its offspring at the wrong place at the wrong time gets devoured by the lion. Its that simple. You at the wrong place at the wrong time gets arrested, gets arraigned in court, gets jailed or fined, gets fired from your job because now you have a criminal record we don’t do that here, your wife leaves you and you get listed with the CRB because of that loan you took for your bail. You are lucky if that happens now because CRB listing has been suspended for a while.

We have a powerful memory. We make a mistake, we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves. If justice exists, then that would be enough; we don’t need to do it again. But no, justice doesn’t exist because every time we remember, we judge ourselves again, we are guilty again and we punish ourselves again and again and again. If we are lucky enough to have a husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend, he or she reminds us of the mistake, so we can judge ourselves again, punish ourselves again and find ourselves guilty again. How is that fair?

How many times do we make our spouses, our partners, our children or our parents pay for the same mistake? Every time we remember the mistake, we blame them again and send them all the emotional poison we feel at the injustice, and then we make them pay again for the same mistake. Is that justice? Could the judge in the mind be wrong because the belief system is wrong? Perhaps most of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies, and we suffer because we believe all the lies.

We have normalized the idea for humans to suffer, to live in constant fear of the unknown, and to create emotional dramas. We live in a constant state of violence, of fear, of war and of injustice, a global nightmare. You look around and all you see is a place so difficult to live in because it is ruled by fear. Throughout the world we see human suffering, anger, revenge, addictions, violence in the streets and tremendous injustice. It may exist at different levels, but generally around the world, fear controls us.

All of humanity is searching for truth, justice and beauty. We are on an eternal search for the truth because we only believe in the lies we have stored in our minds. We are searching for justice because in the belief system we have, there is no justice. We search for beauty because it doesn’t matter how beautiful a person is, we don’t believe that person has beauty. We keep searching and searching when everything is already within us. There is no truth to find. Wherever we turn our heads, all we see is the truth, but with the beliefs we have stored in our heads, we have no eyes for the truth.

We don’t see the truth because we are blind. What blinds us are all those beliefs we have in our mind. We have an insatiable need to be right and to make others wrong. We so blindly trust what we believe and our beliefs set us up for suffering. It is as if we live in the middle of a fog that doesn’t let us see any further than our own nose. We live in a fog that is not even real. This fog is a dream, an illusion, what you believe, all the concepts you have about what you are, the agreements you have made with others, with yourself and even with God.

At this point, I realize I am spiraling out of control with my thoughts and that life is no longer just a brief candle for me. It is now a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations. I need to slow down and live. Step out of the fear for a moment and experience the beautiful things this life has to offer.

I snap out of it and text her. It is about a joke we had cracked earlier and now the meme lords had found just the perfect meme for it. We share the laughter. I have messages on my phone from the previous day saying happy birthday to me. Reports reaching my desk say that the party was lit and that I was rowdy, that I almost fought with my people, that I hogged the meat and ended up eating most of it and most importantly the party was indeed a party. I have no recollection whatsoever. That is how I know it was lit. I am also told that I turned down a fine ‘ghel’ at the party. I don’t know who. Can’t remember. Apparently, I said I am married (laughter). I have a ring that looks quite legit so I understand why that would be easy to sell.

But for full disclosure’s sake, I would have loved it if my birthday ended with relatively sober-ish sex from you know who. But sober was the last vocabulary on my list of vocabularies that day. I smile at the thought. A beautiful blissful smile.

Yours truly,

©C. J. Njoroge

The Professor

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About The Philosopher King

Writer, philosopher, painter and a student of life and politics. Follow on Twitter @cj_njoroge. Instagram @cj_njoroge

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