Death has always been referred to as something bad, dark, and scary, something that is not to be spoken about, but something that will come to each one of us. But right now, no one wants to really talk about it. Death is an event which almost everyone on this earth fears deeply. In a way, our fears are perhaps justified, for we have seen people suffering before their death, and we have seen people who have been left behind by the dead in grief and turmoil. We have seen that death is something permanent, something that is irreversible, and as yet, no one has ever been able to crack the mystery called death, nor has anyone been able to come back after death, to tell us what happens after one dies.
So, what is death? We really don't know. And when we don't know, we are scared. In our heart of hearts, when we see someone dying, possibly we are seeing our own death. Even seeing the funeral procession of an unknown person is enough to make the strongest amongst us cringe and worry. Any death around us immediately brings to focus the fact that life is transient, impermanent, and eventually everything that is born has to die.
Knowing this, our mind seeks refuge in our favourite philosophies or beliefs, religious or otherwise. While someone believes he will go to heaven, another believes that he will be re-born to a better life, perhaps. Some place their trust in karma and destiny. Most of us believe that if we do good deeds, think good thoughts and pray to God, we will be spared the agony of old age, disease and death, and will be taken care of, after death. In spite of all our beliefs, however, most of us know that we really don't know what death is, or what will happen to us.
When death is so mysterious, inexplicable, strange and unknown, it can become something akin to an adventure. Any adventure, expedition or mission, whether into the wilderness, to the South Pole or into space, is thrilling because we are getting into something that is unknown. In a similar way, instead of being scared of our impending deaths, instead of resorting to all sorts of measures to cover and hide these fears, one can try and look at death as something that is both inevitable and also as something that is mysterious, something which no living being knows about. Yes, it does mean that our life, our activities, our relations, our assets - everything that belongs to us here, will not be with us. But instead of worrying and getting scared, can we not accept the inevitability of death, like we would enter into a new adventure? Since we have complete power over what we think and what we believe, why not think and believe that death is going to be the biggest adventure, that we would have ever experienced? Irrespective of what death may actually be, if we could simply take it as given, we will at least live our life here without fear and stress. And that itself will make us live our life so fully and completely that when death comes, we will hopefully have no regrets, no unfulfilled desires, no complaints, and will be willing to accept it happily and with peace.
April 28, 2010