Let’s discuss death and the primal fear of it that we humans cling to.
First, consider the possible outcomes of bodily death. If death results in the cessation of consciousness or, in other words, the extinguishing of one’s thinking and awareness, why should we fear it?! Does any of us remember the next morning the exact moment when we drifted off to sleep? We may remember our dreams during our sleep, yes, but we do not know when we drift off to unconsciousness. If consciousness ends with death, a person is not going to be aware of not being conscious anymore. Reread that last sentence carefully if need be. You won’t be around, so to speak, to regret your loss of consciousness.
If one is fearing death because of possible hell fire on the other side, there is always the available option of making changes in one’s life. One can always make the effort to correct the errors and make amends for past sins, and work to not commit any more sins in the present and future. In other words, repentance is always an option. Whether one believes in Hell, punishment for the wicked, or not, a person ought to strive to live a loving life. A loving life is a more fully alive, more meaningful life.
The fear of death for many may just be the fear of the unknown. As children, did we fear the dark per se, or did we fear what might have been lurking in the dark which we could not see, nor perceive? As well, for those without a faith or belief in an afterlife, the fear of death may be more akin to a regret that they will not be able to continue on this world, that the world will go on without them. For the hedonist, the sting of death is that the good times (or “high times”) stop rolling.
With the possibility of death ever present for us mere mortals, how ought we to live?
Do not let death or the fear of death triumph over life. Do not become paralyzed by fear. Do not obsess on death.
Sounds good, right? But, do not jump to conclusions. I am not advocating for people to seek to cram as many thrills as possible into the time they have on this earth. Excessive sensuality, the excitement or titillation of constant novelty, worldly pleasures pursued to the exclusion of all else in life actually prevent one from growing and maturing psychologically and spiritually.
Make the most of each day not by living for the moment but by living in the moment. Make the effort to live a constructive, loving life right now in the present, not tomorrow, not next year, but now today.
Learn from the past, even from your past mistakes. But, do not let past regrets and remorse become heavy burdens in your life. As well, plan for the future, yes, but do not allow worries and anxieties about the future to dominate your thinking. We can only live life one day at a time. Thus, it makes sense to try our best each day and not worry excessively about tomorrow.
From time to time, it can be helpful to reflect on what are the really important and valuable things in our lives. If the purpose of human life is spiritual growth and evolution, then consider Christ’s 2 commandments. Try to love God more each day. Try to love your neighbors as well. Not always easy, yes, but worthy goals.
When the spirit leaves, of course the body dies. Personally, we do not think that the body (and the physical brain) is the source of consciousness, but rather is a vehicle of consciousness. As we have addressed these beliefs in other essays on this blog, we will not go into these more deeply in this post. (We have even discussed the macabre cryonic preservation of human bodies in the hope of a resuscitation in the dim future. Use the search box on the right side bar of the blog for calling up previous essays.)
There are times when I wake up and say to myself “I do not want to be in this world.”
Why does God allow such heinous acts to be done to innocent people? But, I cannot blame God because the ugly and unpleasant truth is that humans commit the heinous acts, they do the atrocities. It is people who murder, terrorize, enslave, abduct, rape, beat, rob, etc. their fellow men and women and children.
It seems to me that the price of God’s glory is paid in much human suffering. Yet, it is only through God that things can ever be made right – not in this world – but in the next. But, that assumes (and requires) that God truly is just, loving and merciful. By “just” we note the 2 sides of the coin of justice: not solely punishment for the wicked but also recompense for the innocent victims is needed.
My worry (and concern) is greatest for the children of the world. Children are so very vulnerable. Today’s world is more messed up than it was five decades age when I was their age.
Next door there is a young boy whose grandmother walks him each day to the nearby pre-school. Recently, this young boy cheerfully wished my wife a happy lunar new year in Cantonese. Here is a boy who appears to have a good heart. But, will he be able to keep that good heart as he grows up in our toxic culture?
Sadly, the corrupt world leads many children and young people on to self-destructive paths. The best and perhaps the only safeguard for children is strong, loving families. Yet, there are many children who do not have loving families to protect and support them. Every child ought to be loved.
A child is born with a heart of gold
The way of the world makes his heart grow cold
From the 1970s song “That’s The Way of The World” by Earth, Wind and Fire.
What kind of future, what kind of world are we leaving to our children and grandchildren? This is no trite question.
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