A reader continues the thread on death:
I'm 54 years old, and having had AIDS since the early 90's, and having gone to school at Berkeley in the 70's and having lived in SF since then, I really feel as is I have already lived half a dozen lives. From both my life experience and from my study of religion and philosophy I get the sense that we are not what we in the West think we are: we are not things.
I no longer have much of a sense of myself as a thing. I think we are always "passing away." I'm really NOT the same person I was 20 years ago. My body certainly isn't what it was 20 years ago. That body is already dead and gone. I think to regret the final dying - well you might as well regret everything, regret all of life. People are more like events, not things. All events come to an end or dissipate one way or another.
The Christian notion of eternal life just doesn't make any sense to me. I can't conceive of how I could be "me" without the context of the world I live in, the relationships I have, and my time and place. That would be some other person. To be an ego without a world is to be nothing. I think when you have a better understanding that our existence as personalities in this world is already ephemeral, even while we are alive, it makes regret for our disappearance seem peculiar.
As Rilke says, we are "transpositions of air".