Booth Tarkington
October 13, 2022
Point of View
October 27, 2022

Death: A Montage

Photo by Ivan Obolensky

Dr. Trevor Campbell, a medical doctor who specializes in pain, asked that we record a discussion about death. We called it: The Anatomy of Death – A Montage. This conversation in two parts is the result.

A montage is like a mosaic and pieces together fragments of a picture, text, or music, in order to construct a new composite that gives a more embracive and higher-level understanding.

Death is rarely discussed openly, in spite of being an experience that we cannot avoid. Trevor and I hope that through our covering so many different aspects and beliefs about it, the listener will gain a better understanding and, perhaps, become more comfortable with it.

Both Dr. Campbell and I hope you find our conversation to be of interest. It’s a subject worth discussing, and we would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Alicia says:

    Hello Ivan. Your conversation with Dr. Campbell was insightful & interesting. Death is an immense and often uneasy subject to discuss, but the two of you handled it deftly.

    During your talk, you touched on a profound truth regarding the paradoxical, yet interdependent nature of life and death. Is death really an annihilation? Or is it merely the ending of our particular attachments, thoughts, opinions, identities, possessions, ideas, conflicts, and memories? If the latter is true, then perhaps dying to these things at every moment is the only way to truly live. The wisest teachers seem to agree on this point:

    “And death of course is the final sorrow. But if you are living, death and life together, then there is no change. You are incarnating every day as fresh, not you, a new thing is incarnating every day afresh. And in that there is great beauty. That is creation. Not merely painting a picture, building a house and architecture, but living with this death and life. And that gives you – in that there is tremendous freedom. And freedom implies also, the root meaning of that word ‘freedom’ is also love. Living, the art of living and the art of dying, together. That brings about great love. And love has its own intelligence, not the intelligence of a cunning mind. Intelligence is something outside of the brain…” – J. Krishnamurti, Bombay (Mumbai), India, Public Talk #3, February 11, 1984

    • Hi Alicia,
      Thank you for your wise comment and kind words. Speaking of Krishnamurti, he said before his death that the “supreme intelligence” operating in his body would be gone with his death; however, his followers could perhaps get in touch with it if they lived his teachings. Along those lines, In the film, the Unmistaken Child, one of the Tibetan monks asked his teacher if it was possible to make a mistake in the reincarnation process? In other words, suppose the child who was accepted as a reincarnation of a great master through the lengthy and rigorous process of choosing him was not that reincarnated soul, but someone else? The teacher replied that such a mistake was possible, but if the one chosen was brought up with all the teachings, the discipline, the beliefs, and the methods of the former master, was not that person the fully reincarnated master? It is a profound idea, in that if one exists and acts like the Master from a former life is that Master now still alive? The answer must be yes and is the basis for many of the science fiction stories about downloading to another body. The question remains though, is that consciousness the same consciousness or something different? There is also the old saying that if you look like a horse, and act like a horse, then perhaps it’s time to get a saddle. ? Thanks again for writing!

      • Alicia says:

        Thanks for your reply! Your answer made me smile, and you certainly have a valid point regarding the Tibetan tulkus. Is any “reincarnated” consciousness the same as the one that preceded it? While I am by no means wise or enlightened, the answer seems to be another paradox. To explore it further, I humbly suggest that a boat might be a better mode of transportation than a horse. ? Of course, lighting a candle, planting a fruit tree, or watching the clouds would also help. Take care!

        • Hi Alicia, I do like boats. The advantage of them over horses is that riding a horse can be like sitting on a cruise missile that has serious disagreements. Boats, too, but not willfully. Our one certainty about death is that we will find out soon enough, usually too soon. If we’re in a simulation, one must hope that our score is high enough to qualify for the upgrade! Cheers, Ivan

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