Question: Death and the state of the one who dies was scarcely addressed in this book, yet (and speaking personally) it is a source of great anxiety for many.
I understand from the book that the appearance of being a person who will die is itself a mistake, that there exists no such person in Reality. But it nevertheless is a given that experience seems to be from a point of view, seems to be localized to this individual person that I appear to be. And it is also an apparent given that other persons pass away, never to return. But if as you suggest (and as I hope, in honesty) that awareness is not produced by the brain, this implies that bodily death is not the end of awareness. But the postmortem state could not be from this perspective either. Could you speak to this?
Response to ¶ 1: On the contrary, the matter of death is completely and unequivocally resolved over the course of the book—just not directly. Near the beginning of Chapter 5 you’ll find the question, “What happens when I die?” In the next few exchanges with ANYONE I point out that this, and many other vexing questions (far more than are listed in the book), are based on a false assumption—namely, that of substantiality. Helping you see what is false about this assumption is what the book is about. In directly seeing the actual human predicament in Totality, instead of forming ideas about it, the issue of death, and virtually all other existential questions, are entirely put to rest.
Response to ¶ 2: I go to great pains in the book to remind readers that we can’t say “is,” we can’t say “is not.” Thus, nowhere in the book do I indicate that “the appearance of being a person who will die is…a mistake,” or that “there exists no such person in Reality.” But it certainly appears that people exist and then pass away. Just as it also appears, as I note in the last two paragraphs of Chapter 19, that conceptualized experience generally “seems to be from a point of view” localized in an individual person. I also point out in the book, that it appears that other entities—other people, plants, animals, rocks, trees, clouds, stars—seem to come and go, never to return. Thus, direct perception, as opposed to indirect conception, reveals no “postmortem state,” whatever that could possibly mean.
If you click on the Home page link above, scroll down and then click on the Wednesday study group link, you’ll find recordings of talks and discussions that might help you with the concerns you raise here. In particular, you might want to click on the “Pay Attention,” and “The Self Illusion” links. Once there, you may also want to scroll up to the Dharma Field menu bar and click on TALKS. From there, click on Recent Talks. Then click on the talk titled, “Not Knowing Your Name,” where I directly speak to your concerns.
Question: Could you explain the phrase “Things are not what they seem nor are they otherwise”?
Response: This phrase is not in The Grand Delusion, though I have uttered it in many of my talks. Nevertheless, it does fit with the main theme of the book. Things are not as they seem (i.e., substantial, or Something), nor are they otherwise (i.e., insubstantial, or Nothing).
Question: Is there “anything” that is an ultimate truth that can be put into words? For example: Murder, Child abuse, God, Nature, Universe, Goodness, etc.?
Response: There can be no Ultimate Things, as such. If there were, “They” would be, of necessity, relative. Consequently, all nameable things are relative and not Absolute. In other words, "they" are objects of Mind, not actual entities unto themselves.
Question: How can things exist and not exist!? Isn’t this confusion in itself? It either is or it isn’t. How can they coexist?
Response: What is existence? In your 3rd sentence, what does “it” refer to? This needs to be answered first. If you simply observe the object—by “simply” I mean “without talking to yourself or thinking”—whatever it might be, you can (and you may) eventually see directly that “it” is an imagined “thing.” What is less difficult to see is that what we innately mean by “existence” is persistence—i.e., that “it,” the presumed object, persists for a time, however brief or long. But this is what we never find. An object that persists. We only assume it. Go ahead. Name something. Look at it. Feel it. Think it. “It” doesn’t persist. Not even for a nanosecond. We don’t actually find existence, in other words. Consequently, neither do we find nonexistence.