dukethelizard asks: Hi I’m a 16-year-old guy and I’ve been getting depressed lately. I keep thinking about dying all old, and wondering if there’s an afterlife or not. I thought it was just hormones at first, but this has been going on longer than I thought it would. Almost a month now. It’s really starting to get to me. The thought that everything that starts has to end keeps running through my mind and well it stinks!!! I feel awful most of the day. I was wondering if maybe I should become active at some church or become Buddhist or something. I know you’re busy, but please help asap. I’m not suicidal or anything, but its really affecting me. I couldn’t sleep last night, and I had a test today that either made or broke my grade in algebra 2. Help please!
Thanks for your beautiful question.
I have to be honest with you here. Dogs are very connected to the Earth. We certainly have a spiritual nature, but it’s all about here, not the Beyond. So I can’t argue about whether any religion is better than another, or whether there’s an afterlife, or anything like that. I truly have no idea. There’s certainly a magic I see in everything, from a baby’s cry to a flower to a parade of ants to a mountain to rainclouds, and if someone wants to call that magic God, I can’t disagree. But the only answers I can give you are about how to do better for yourself, in a plain earthly way.
Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with your hormones, or anything else. You humans have a much larger brain than we dogs do, and because of that, you’ve been thinking about what happens after we die for thousands of years. And you’re right on schedule for it, dukethelizzard, because at 16 you’re really starting to face your future, in every sense. So you’re doing great.
And when it comes to death, you’re absolutely right, it stinks! (Yes, I did change your wording there slightly. Remember, this is a kids’ site!). But my point of view isn’t so much that I hate the idea that I’ll die sometime (since I have no idea what it’ll be like); it’s that I hate losing anyone! And I can’t even imagine how horrible it will be for Handsome if I go first! And so yeah, those things really stink!
And you know what, I talked with Handsome about your question, and he said something really interesting – that he’d had the same problem right around the same age… and while he was taking the same class! And you know what happened? He had been really good in math before that, but suddenly his grades went from A’s to a C. Because he just didn’t care anymore – what could Algebra tell anyone about the big questions of the Universe? And who cares a bit about Trigonometry?!
So my friend, I’m afraid my answer to you is no answer at all. It’s rather to welcome you to the large group of humans who are Seekers of Truth. You may well find that you’ll be in this group for the rest of your life. Should you go to a church? Absolutely! Try a few! See what you think! Check out The Bible, The Koran, the Baghavad-Gita, read about Confucianism and Taoism, and yes Buddhism (Herman Hesse’s novel “Siddhartha” is a good introduction to that), check out some of the more new-age gurus like Kahlil Gibran and Eckhart Tolle, maybe read Neale Donald Walsch’s “Conversations with God” or Paolo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” see a few movies that really delve into this stuff like “The Seventh Seal” and “What the Bleep Do We Know”…
Now this isn’t my suggestion for the next week. Or the next month, or the next year! These are suggestions for your life. You are finding out who you are. Maybe some day you’ll find answers to these questions that will satisfy you, and maybe you won’t. Either way, relish the fact: You are a Seeker, a Thinker, and a very deep person who’s using that wonderful human brain in all the best ways!
But there’s one funny thing I need to add. Some of those other Seekers have worked to discover the one pure truth in the universe, the only absolute pure science. Do you know what that is? It’s Mathematics! People can debate about everything from Biology to Religion… but no one can debate Algebra! It’s the absolute truth!
So in your seeking, while looking for all the other answers out there, be sure to also do your homework. And however you did on that test, prepare yourself to nail the next one.
Because also, whether there’s an afterlife or not, right now you’re in this life. And if you fail Algebra 2, you’re going to be really annoyed at having to waste any of the precious time you have left here in taking that class again!
Good Luck. And please let me know what you find!