Are You Ready To Die?

In this post we'll explore death, which is a cornerstone of life. Let's bite into this taboo-ridden word, as deeply as we can, to further our understanding of death and how it affects our lives.

Clarity makes for wisdom.

How does the thought of dying make you feel? What thoughts come up?

I will be really honest with you. When I'm mindful, death doesn't trouble me much, but whenever I'm caught up in thinking, I resist it. The thought of dying triggers mental and emotional unease, because I don't want my life to end.

Do you recognize yourself?

Death is a natural part of life, yet it calls forth sadness and fear. Death is true, death is real; that alone, makes it beautiful as opposed to ugly lies and unfounded beliefs.

Death is what it is, and it's beneficial to learn to accept it. To truly make peace with yourself, wholeheartedly accept whatever comes your way - whatever.

The purpose of writing this post is not to upset or frighten anyone. Rather, the objective is to encourage you to see life as it truly is. The thought of death is like an emotional bomb, because of its existential charge and our ongoing denial.

Cultures that display dead bodies at funerals have less of an issue with it. That is a skillful approach, which exposes you to reality. The opposite is to hide the corpses from the public eye, or phrased differently, it's considered distasteful to show dead bodies. This is an unskillful approach, which fuels the fear of the unknown.

Death hangs over us like a dark shadow, for as long as we live. That makes death comparable to waiting for the end of a movie. The thought of dying is as sour as vinegar or as foul as rotten eggs, and the older you get, the more it haunts you.

It's time to make peace with yourself.

Death Is A Natural Part Of Life

Anyone with a genuine interest in truth and reality, is naturally drawn to the concepts of life and death. Why, you may ask?

A spiritual seeker longs to uncover and realize the origin and purpose of life. She endeavors to experience objective reality and find answers to questions like, "Is death limited to the physical body?"

Generally, spiritual seekers are not as afraid of death as the average person, because they have contemplated it. Some Buddhist monasteries in Southeast Asia have a large photo of a skeleton in the meditation hall, or even a real one.

Likewise, individuals that see dead bodies on a regular basis are also familiar with death. That includes doctors, paramedics and funeral home workers.

Why is death frightening?

We want to live, exist. Not existing is an unnerving thought. It's scary just to look at a photo of a decomposed body, leave alone stumbling upon one in the dark.

By observing plants and animals, we realize that death is really obvious in nature. Everything that is born, dies. It's easy to accept that a tree falls over and rots on the ground, or that a dead bird is eaten by ants. This is the way it is, it's a law of nature.

On the other hand, we find it extremely difficult to accept our own death because of the complete identification with the I or self, which is a delusion. The mind is simply unable to perceive ultimate reality.

The hardest is to accept your own death, then the death of loved ones, friends, people you don't know and finally your enemies.

So, are you ready to die? Not many are. The sheer thought of death scares most of us.

During my latest meditation retreat the abbot died, he was only 53 years old. I cried about 30 minutes after I had found out, and when I saw the corpse. We had a special connection, since he selflessly had shared his understanding of meditation with me.

He was very kind, helpful and accepting of different people, I always felt welcome at his monastery. His death has fueled my determination to work hard to realize my spiritual aspirations.

Some people die of old age, as the physical body is no longer able to support life, while others die from diseases, traffic accidents, plane crashes and snake bites.

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A Skillful Perspective On Death

My personal encounters with death have changed the way I look at life quite dramatically. For example, nowadays I find it totally meaningless to build a new house, since I will die soon anyway.

Many of us think, "I won't die." Wishing they were exempt from death. Don't live in a dream world and pretend you won't die. That is to reject and deny truth and reality. I can assure you, all of us will die, it's meant to be that way.

Aside from recognizing reality, there are certain benefits of viewing death with your feet firmly planted on the ground. For one, as a spiritual seeker it creates a sense of urgency to practice and make progress on the path, while you still can.

It also makes us focus on what is truly important in life. That could be being grateful for what you have, to be a good friend, not to take advantage of anyone and not to indulge in completely meaningless activities.

What are your experiences and encounters with death? How has it affected your outlook on life, and what have you learned from it? Give it some thought...

It's a healthy reality check to be present when someone you know passes away. It is likely to change the way you look at life. We are not immortal. Life is momentary, like a breath of air.

Soon all the people that live on Earth will return to the planet, in the form of flesh, bones and ashes. The same will happen to all the plants and animals, but unlike us, they are not resisting. They accept life as it is, they flow with it.

By looking at life this way, nothing in the physical world is truly important. If our planet bursts like a balloon, what would happen to the international borders, all the high school diplomas and electronics?

They would return to nature, and without any humans around it wouldn't have any value, which is a creation of the mind.

How does that make you feel?

We don't know what happens after the death of the physical body. Scientists are nowhere near understanding the source of life; while the religions speculate about heavens and hells, but until we have died a conscious death or gained profound wisdom through enlightenment, we simply don't know.

Learn to accept death as a natural part of life, and rest in comfort and ease.

Best of luck!

Related:   Learning From Death   Spiritual Practice   Religious Fear

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