February 7, 2008

"It's like a man is in a car and the car is old and the man gets out of the car and rolls the car into the water into a lake."

The filmmaker David Lynch talks about death on the occasion of the death of his guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi:
What does it mean to you that Maharishi is dead?

Well, Maharishi dropped his body. It's like a man is in a car and the car is old and the man gets out of the car and rolls the car into the water into a lake. Do we feel sorry for the man? The car is gone but the man is there. No problems for Maharishi. People are sad because that voice of wisdom is gone.
Did that car image come from the Maharishi himself? It made me think of this song lyric (audio) from George Harrison, another devotee of the Maharishi:
I got born into the material world
Getting worn out in the material world
Use my body like a car,
Taking me both near and far

Met my friends all in the material world...

I’m living in the material world
Living in the material world
I hope to get out of this place
By the lord Sri Krishna’s grace
My salvation from the material world
Do you think of your body as a car that you're driving, and death as a matter of getting out of that car? When you see a dead body, do you think of it as a car wreck or an abandoned car from which the driver emerged unscathed?

Do you hope they got a new car, or do you — like Harrison, apparently — hope they took to walking from then on?

42 comments:

Kirby Olson said...

It's not ecologically sound to roll a car into a lake.

joe said...

Good analogy, as long as the driver becomes invisible when the car rolls into the lake.

Pastor_Jeff said...

I guess I think of it more as a car wreck, but whether the driver escaped unscathed is an open question.

rhhardin said...

Having a soul is the grammatical reflex of having a body.

Stanley Cavell :

It may be that the sense of falsification comes from the way I understand the phrase ``have a body.'' It is really a mythological way of saying that I am flesh. But I am not satisfied with this myth, for it implies that I also have something other than a body, call it a soul. Now I have three things to put together: a body, a soul, and me. (So there are four things to be placed: I plus those three.) But I no more have a soul than I have a body. That is what I say here and now. People who say they have a soul sometimes militantly take its possession as a point of pride, for instance William Ernest Henley and G.B.Shaw. Take the phrase ``have a soul'' as a mythological way of saying that I am spirit. If the body individuates flesh and spirit, singles me out, what does the soul do?

It binds me to others.


The Claim of Reason p.411

ricpic said...

Ma dropped his body
Or did his body drop Ma?
Either way you slice it
Ma don't need a car (no ma).

Triangle Man said...

I suppose a body could be like a car, if it's a really useful talking car...like KITT from Knight Rider.

Pogo said...

Am I merely dust, bent on becoming dust again?

Am I no more than that, a few molecules able to move and talk and eat and make a mark in sand, but in the end merely a vehicle for the egg just to make another egg, and then entropy and decay?

And again I ask, what possible purpose could it serve for humans to be born with the drive to believe there is indeed something more to life than the simple rise and fall of another animal?

Mere biology fails here.

bill said...

Rather than paraphrasing Kansas as pogo did, here's the full thing:

I close my eyes,
only for a moment, and the moment's gone
All my dreams,
pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind,
all they are is dust in the wind

Same old song,
just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do,
crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind,
All we are is dust in the wind

Don't hang on,
nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away,
and all your money won't another minute buy

Dust in the wind,
All we are is dust in the wind
(All we are is dust in the wind)
Dust in the wind,
(Everything is dust in the wind)
Everything is dust in the wind

fstopfitzgerald said...

Fricking Kansas?

You guys have to be kidding.

May I remind you that, in the immortal words of Fran Liebowitz, it is always a mistake to try to figure out issues in your life based on the lyrics to popular music.

Seriously -- Kansas?

Wowie. I'd hate to see some your CD collections....

Pogo said...

I was thinking more Marcus Aurelius versus Jesus.

But Dust in the Wind versus Soul Meets Body will do fine, fstop's harrumphing aside.

SteveR said...

I'm just wondering if the soul of Fawn Liebowitz haunted Otter. Fstop, my advice to you is start drinking heavily.

Larry said...

Ecclesiates 12:7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ron said...

Man gets out of car...rolls car in lake...where do I know that from?

Oh, yeah, Psycho.

You know, Norman Bates...with Janet Leigh in the trunk!

OMG!!! What did Lynch know? and when did he know it?

fstopfitzgerald said...

SteveR said...

I'm just wondering if the soul of Fawn Liebowitz haunted Otter. Fstop, my advice to you is start drinking heavily.


Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Steve.

See -- I can quote Animal House too!!!! It's fun!!!!!

MadisonMan said...

We only say dust to dust because religion sprang out of the desert, a very dusty place. If religion sprang out of the Pacific Northwest, it would be all about emerging from water and going back to water. Water that is now polluted by abandoned cars, apparently.

I think of my car as a way to get from point A to point B. It is not an extension of my body. I do think that men who buy sporty cars or souped up trucks or Hummers are compensating for shortcomings in their anatomy, however. I'm a mean person.

John Kindley said...

Even as a Christian, it's hard to escape the conclusion that what we experience as our soul is intimately connected with our body. I would guess that our sense of self-consciousness and self-identity will dissolve with the departure of the soul from our body. But what is our soul, indeed what is our body and all things in the known universe, other than emanations from and participations in the One Be-ing? Metaphysically (and grammatically) speaking, God is the infinitive "to be" of all beings. Now, if the participation in Being that was our soul comes to realize this truth fully and becomes "enlightened," then it seems that soul has returned to the God from which it came and is One with God, is lost in God and is God. (Indeed, maybe we don't have to be saints for this to be the result. If our souls and bodies are utterly dissolved in Being, Being still remains. But what of the soul that stubbornly clings to earth even after its body is gone? Does God let that soul remain for a time as a ghost?) Would this really be so bad? Would we fret over the fact that we don't have a body to walk around with and with which to greet all our long lost friends and relatives in a place called Heaven? "We'd" be God after all, in Whom nothing that is truly good is forgotten or lost. "We" would remember our travails and loves on this earth, and appreciate them for what they were, just as we do in a more imperfect and self-centered way now. "We" could still express ourselves in the universe, just as God does now. God, for some mysterious reason, seems to have a penchant for creating creatures other than Him/Herself. It wouldn't be impossible for Him to maintain our souls in existence and fit them after a general resurrection with a new, improved spiritual body, or, if the reincarnation theory is to be believed and we've been particularly small-souled in this life, to reincarnate our souls in snails and such. We are truly God's children, and analogously to earthly children, are made in His image and participate in His power and attributes and creation. The same could be said of plants and animals, but seemingly unlike plants and animals we are aware, and can make ourselves more aware, of our divine kinship.

"I said, 'You are "gods";
you are all sons of the Most High.'
But you will die like mere men;
you will fall like every other ruler." Psalm 82:6-7.

SteveR said...

See -- I can quote Animal House too!!!! It's fun!!!!!

Nice to see you attributing your quotes these days.

BYW I'm not fat nor drunk and as for being stupid.. you're the expert.

Skeptical said...

Definitely a car wreck. But eventually the car will be repaired and made newer, nicer, well nigh indestructible. You won't be able to recognize it as the same car, but it will be, somehow.

bill said...

When you see a dead body, do you think of it as a car wreck or an abandoned car from which the driver emerged unscathed?

Anyone have a copy of J.G. Ballard's "Crash" nearby? I'm guessing there's an apt description in there.

Stephen said...

Driver leaving the car is like the soul leaving the body--ok, I get that. But the other half of Lynch's metaphor is rolling the car into the lake, much more symbolic than compacting, burying, or--with a bow to 21st century sensibilities--recycling. Water covers, washes, and gives birth to beauty (Aphrodite, Ursula Andress). Is it possible that the car isn’t “dead” and will both driver and car be ultimately re-united?

Wow, heavy. Thanks, Maharishi, this discussion is a tribute to you.

Smilin' Jack said...

They drank up the wine, and they got to talking
They now had more important things to say
And when the car broke down they started walking
Where were they going without ever knowing the way?

Anyone could see the road that they walk on is paved in gold
And it's always summer, they'll never get cold
They'll never get hungry, they'll never get old and gray

You can see their shadows wandering off somewhere
They won't make it home but they really don't care
They wanted the highway, they're happy there today , today

bill said...

As frequently as fstopfitzgerald has been posting, he (she?) might be wary of throwing around terms such as "You guys" and "your." Commentators here are by no means monolithic, yet the overall tone of the discussion can come to reflect the group. Of which fstopfitzgerald is now part of. As some other dirty hippies once proclaimed: "I am you and you are me and we are we, together."

Meade said...

Body not as a car at all, not even as a body but of a temporarily more or less organized collection of cells and microorganisms that disperse and eventually reorganize into other animated material forms that, if they're lucky, develop enough consciousness to meditate, awaken, create compassion, and become free of suffering.

So, no, I do not hope to get a new car - although a new mountain bike wouldn't be bad (full-suspension this time please) - but if that is what's ahead, I hope, at least, it's a FlexFuel, maybe a pickup or even a tow truck so I can do my part to help clear away broken down junkers like FstopFitzgeraldmobiles that seem intent on creating nothing but traffic jams and road rage.

ricpic said...

I worship my car and it's not even a Ferrari or a Rolls, it's a Subaru Forester. Talk about settling!

Middle Class Guy said...

Ron said...
Man gets out of car...rolls car in lake...where do I know that from?



Chappaquidick ring a bell? This would have been a good question to ask Teddy Kennedy.

joe said...

Madison Man, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
PS I drive a Honda compact, so it's not like I am taking your post personally.

Pogo said...

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the Toyotas and Subarus on the sprinkled streets,
After the Fords, after the Chevies, after the Buicks that roll into the lake—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!

Chip Ahoy said...

No. I do not view my body like a car and my soul like a driver, that's absurd.

Because my body is more like a hang glider, but that hang glider is old and so the pilot steps out and lets the hang glider fall to the earth. No wait. It's not like that atoll, my body is like a rocket, exactly like a rocket, except the rocket is old and so ... no. Hang on,

John Kindley said...

For some reason the following poem by Emily Dickinson has always seemed to me to carry deep metaphysical and epistemological truth:

That Love is all there is,
Is all we know of Love;
It is enough, the freight should be
Proportioned to the groove.

Chip Ahoy said...

My body is like a semi tractor trailer, an unwieldy vehicle that takes awhile to load and is difficult to park and also guzzles a lot of petrol, but most importantly comes in two parts attached by a clever attachment and a few wires and hoses. Death is like unhooking the trailer portion and setting off in just the cab, and the engine, of course,

damn

start over.

Chip Ahoy said...

My body is like the Enterprise. The one in STNG that comes in two parts. Death is like when the ship separates and the bridge goes sailing off in a different direction.

ricpic said...

Pogo channels Eliot! Damn site's gettin' too classy fer me.
--Ezra

bill said...

I prefer channeling the Jazz Butcher's "Mind Like a Playground,"

I have a mind like a playgroup with kiddies on the carpet
Toys on the table and lots and lots of noise
People leave their thoughts here
Like they'd leave their kids there
While they go out drinking and chasing boys.

I don't care, even if they do stare
I don't care, I don't mind at all
I don't care, even if they do stare
I haven't got a mind at all.
(La la la la la la la)

People wouldn't leave their kiddies on the M1
Might get run over, splish splat dead
So why do they assume that I've got any room for
All their stuff inside my head?

Maxine Weiss said...

What Christopher knew, back in May of 2006, that nobody else did, for sure, at the time:

...THAT CHER IS COMING TO LAS VEGAS !!!!!

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/scott-whitlock/2008/02/07/abcs-mcfadden-urges-carter-loving-cher-run-office

This is the first time it's been officially announced. Prior to today, it was only a rumor, and I thought the deal would fall through.

Yet, Christopher knew almost two years ago! Is Cher teleporting her plans to Christopher?


http://christopheralthouse.blogspot.com/2006/05/cher-osseum.html

rhhardin said...

A lot of adolescent male reasoning actually goes that way, in figuring out how things must work : there must be a little man in your head who reads all the sense data coming in.

This would be the man in the car.

One assumes that as he leaves the lake area, he isn't run over by a truck.

Revenant said...

And again I ask, what possible purpose could it serve for humans to be born with the drive to believe there is indeed something more to life than the simple rise and fall of another animal?

It makes life more pleasant to live, and thus encourages people to live their lives when there is no practical reason to do so.

But I would point out that not all humans are born with that drive. I, for example, wasn't; I don't think there's anything more than this and I'm puzzled why other people do. It is one of the reasons I spend so much time reading about religion and philosophy.

John Howard said...

I wonder when they'd say the soul gets in the car. I would think the car would have to be built first, at least have a motor and body and seats before a soul would look at it and say "hey, a car with no one in it yet, I'm getting in it, and I'm gonna drive right out of this garage as soon as I can and go everywhere I want to go." I don't think a soul would get in a body until it has blood and a heart ready to start beating, and when it gets in, it starts up the heart. That's at about 3 weeks, I think. Up till then, the car is unoccupied, as it is after the heart stops beating.

Mr. Forward said...

"... he's a mean motor scooter and a bad go-getter
Alley Oop Oop, Oop Oop Oop"

Beach Boys

From Inwood said...

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;--on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


Matthew Arnold, 1851


But then, Kirby Olson's comment leads me to conclude that attention must be paid to the ecology as well as the eschatology!

Seneca the Younger said...

Body not as a car at all, not even as a body but of a temporarily more or less organized collection of cells and microorganisms that disperse and eventually reorganize into other animated material forms that, if they're lucky, develop enough consciousness to meditate, awaken, create compassion, and become free of suffering.

Aha, another one.

Blake said...

And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose
Unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed i was flying

Tibore said...

So if that's what Lynch would do with his car when it's finished, what would he do with, say, his parents when they die?

Just askin'.