If there is one thing that drives us, one thing that scares us, one thing that makes us lose all our moral standards it is this. Death. But have we ever questioned the assumption that death is really that bad? After all, most of us have no idea what it is. Yet we are “deathly” afraid of it.
To understand why we fear death so much we need to first understand why we fear in general. We fear what threatens us. By us, I mean our identity. Our ego. Our self-sense.
Why do we fear what threatens us? Our fear of death is what is keeping us alive. Everything alive tries to avoid death. Humans use the emotion of fear to keep us away from what we perceive as danger. We demonize death. We cry at funerals. We shed tears when we see death in the news. Because the Human system is built to avoid danger. But is it all that bad?
Die before you die
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just ask someone who has died what death is like?
Luckily we can! There is a phenomenon called a near death experience or short, NDE. Some reports say that they happen to 17% of people who nearly die. So, what do people who had NDE’s say? What was it like? Many people report they had strong positive emotions, a feeling of peace, painlessness, happiness, and pure bliss.
So if this is true, is it justified to fear death the way we do?
Now you might say: “Oh well, death isn’t as bad as we thought, so what?” The problem is that we don’t see the implications this has. Our complete worldview hinges on this one simple fact. That death is the worst thing that could ever happen to you. But if we believe those people who had near-death experiences, and death really is one of the most beautiful things we are able to experience, then we should start celebrating mass murders for being such selfless beings, helping people see Love and God without worrying about themselves. Hitler was the real Bodhisattwa. Hitler should be our Jesus.
Alright alright. That might be a little radical. And I am not advising anyone to go around killing people. But what I do advise is to show more compassion and accept death. Don’t demonize death. It is integral to life.
Let it go.
Death is much more than just what we initially think of. When we think about death we think about the physical body dying. But death happens all the time, in all of us. We die when we let go. We die when we grow. We die when we become someone new and let go of our past self. It is a necessary and useful process. Without death, there could be no life. Life implies death and the other way around. Death and change could be synonymous. It’s no accident that the Hindus pray to Gods of death. They embrace it, they celebrate it, they welcome it. Because they realize how death and birth are one and the same thing. You cannot have one without the other.
When people cry at a funeral, they aren’t crying for the person who got “cut short of their life”. They usually cry out of selfishness. They cry because they can’t have that person in their life anymore. Clinging to things, not being able to let them go, not being able to let them die is the source of all suffering. Therefore I hope to encourage all of you. Try to let go. Try to let go of the things that you always thought you needed. That doesn’t mean you have to actually sell your car or leave your partner. But try to let go of the attachments you hold in your mind. See how liberating it can be. See how much less pain you’ll have to endure once the person or possession finally has to leave. This doesn’t mean you don’t love the things around you or cherish them. Quite the opposite. You can cherish them without your selfish attachment. Love life. Don’t cling to it.