Dippity Do Dah, Dippity Dee A!  Life has that wild ride feel to it, when I feel I am riding atop a statement in progress, being bounced along from one word to another, the stream of meaning carrying me to some town called “Metaphor.”

Sometimes these “accidental” meanings are like two trains arriving at the same destination, each filled with passengers giving different accounts of what they saw out the windows.  If an investigator questioned  both groups of passengers, he could assemble the pieces to form a complete picture.
Yesterday, the train I was on was a reading I was assigned as my “Great Books” discussion leader.  The reading was Schopenhauer’s “The Indestructibility of Our Inner Nature.”  “Who would get on that train?” you may ask.  It was assigned reading.  But like many trips, it turned out to be an adventure.  
The other train was my attendance yesterday at a Memorial service for a Christian friend who died of recurrent cancer at age 72.  She was a woman of many friendships and the chapel was filled with people who were touched by her life, and saddened by her death.
These trains met at Apotheosis station for me yesterday.  During the memorial, one of the speakers spoke of life after death.  His orientation was that of an intellectual who gave a strong account of the essential Christian view of eternal life with God.  Schopenhauer has little respect for this point of view, but the Schopenhauer train, passing through different territory, rumbled with the same clickety-clack:  “What is the meaning of death?”  Yes, this question is pre-eminent over the question of “the meaning of life?” for both trains of thought.  Why?  Death gets our focus.  Death is the deep void that feeds our anxiety.  Death is the greatest of our many unknowable outcomes.  Answer it, and the meaning of life follows like a cute caboose. 
So, like Inspector Pierot in “The Murder on the Orient Express,”  I questioned the passengers.  The point of convergence was that all the witnesses said that death mystery clue is found in the recurrence of life in nature.  In his essay, Schopenhauer cites the example of leaves on a tree dying in the autumn, with new buds turning to full lush leaves in the Spring.  He argues that the leave that crumbles to dust, and the leave that takes its place, are generated from the “indestructible” principle of matter that is common to all things, and that “existence” as matter doesn’t matter as to form.  Yes, I meant to write that last “loop de loop.”  
Schopenhauer is not disturbed by the idea that an “individual” consciousness with a name, such as Juan or Juanita, stops in that form to become dust in the earth, to reappear as molecules in a can of corn or gold in a mine.  After all, he argues, this “consciousness” of “I” in this temporary state can be a dismal and disappointing experience, while the simple “nothingness” of returning to base matter is attractive, especially if we know the existence continues forever in many different forms, some of which will be other human beings.  For me, this has overtones of Darwinian thought that the survival of the species is of primary importance over the survival of any individual member.
The speaker at my friend’s memorial gave a biblical view by quoting from the 14th Chapter of the Book of Job.  Now, this lament is from the cursed heart of Job, a man with whom God toyed in a bet with the devil that Job would be steadfast in faith and obedience even in affliction.  This is not another presumptuous modern account of heaven as an unending spa treatment.  It merits reading in its entirety:    

Chapter 14:   Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity. And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man. Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away. His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.

Job and Schopenhauer could share a nice dinner over this subject, and walk away friends, I think.  In the underlined excerpt, I think they arrive at the same station, and while their account of the journey differs slightly, the face of death looks very similar for them both.  Both have this idea that a person of individual consciousness returns to a inert matter, but may, after a time, return in some form to consciousness.  Job goes farther than Schopenhauer, and sets the stage for a later Christian refinement:  we have a “set time” not just for physical death, but for the returning to conscious life.  We have a time to be called forth again, by a God who “remembers me.”  A “change” will come, and we are to wait until the appointed time of “change.”