Are You Afraid of Death?
Caroline Nettle, Guest
With all the uncertainties that we are faced with in these turbulent times, there are very few things upon which we can rely. We are seeing the banking industry, politicians, social institutions and the old hierarchy undergoing profound changes, which is causing us to rethink our old ways. However, as the old saying goes, death and taxes are the two things that are unavoidable.
In the natural world, we watch as the different cycles play themselves out in a constant movement between birth, life, giving birth to new life, and eventual death. Once life is over, the physical remains become reabsorbed into the cycle to give life to the next generation. Mother Nature wastes nothing as death gives way to life and life gives way to death in the continual circle of life.
An example of this would be the tree, that annually sheds its leaves, and they fall to the ground and in turn, nourish the earth as they decompose to enrich the soil and enable new plants to flourish. Or another would be a whale that is born, grows up, has calves of its own, and eventually dies, and its corpse floats to the bottom of the ocean where it feeds countless other species, who themselves feed countless other species in the vast cycle of life.
All trees, plants, animals and birds play a part in the great orchestra that is life, inter-mingling and co-existing with other species along the way, and ultimately passing on when the time comes.
Mankind seems to be the only animal on the playing field that dwells incessantly on the fear of their impending demise. When studying the prey of the big cats, it was found that the animal that was about to become dinner struggled for a short while, and then gave in to its fate, as if aware of the part that it played in the drama of life.
There are people on this planet that are more closely related to the earth than we have become latterly in the western world. Within these cultures, death is not something to be feared, it is accepted as a small part of the cycle of life. It is interesting that these cultures also seem to revere their ancestors in a way that brings them peace and guides them. They also have a respect for those that have gone before and the wisdom that they imparted which seems to be lacking in our western world.
We seem to have lost our sense of the majesty of life and the sacred within our culture. We have been programmed to expect an explanation for everything, and ideas need to be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt before we believe anything. (That is, until it is disproved, in which case we believe the next theory until that is also disproved…..) This has enabled us to become totally removed from the theatre of life, and has given us a misplaced sense of our own importance. The issue here is that this is in direct contrast to our place in the vast, unimaginable size of the universe.
We are fortunate enough to be living on a planet that has just the right conditions to support life. The ball of rock that we live on is just the right distance from the nearest sun to allow our world to be habitable. This sun, in turn, is part of a galaxy that in turn, is one of several million other galaxies that are all hurtling through space at an astonishing speed……
Death occurs constantly as we go about our daily lives. Each time we face a challenge and come through it, the old perception dies, and a new one is born. Each time we change our perception, make a better choice, let go of that which we no longer need and allow something better to come in, there is a process of death of the old and birth of the new.
How many times have you watched loved ones and friends going through the death of a relationship, and then watched as they blossom and a new friend emerges, more confident, more beautiful, and happier?
In our history, we have seen this repeatedly; empires fall, as new ones are born, meteorites hit the earth, wiping out 95% of life, and this allows different species to develop and prosper, new philosophies are born as a reaction against the old ways, and so on.
One certainty about life is that death follows when it is time to move into the next cycle of life, whatever you believe that to be. You can spend your entire life dreading it, picturing it, planning it, and obsessing about it, but the reality is that it is usually over in an instant. When you die is something that none of us can know- it may be tomorrow, next week, in a decade or whenever is your time. Instead of worrying about something that you ultimately have no control over – the fact that you will die at some stage in the future- would it not be more constructive to put that energy into enjoying today and all that you have to be grateful for?
Spending valuable time and energy worrying about something in the future is called projection. We generally enter into projection when we mistakenly feel that we have the power to control the outcome. Since we cannot say when we are going to die, would it be more useful to live each day as fully as possible whilst we wait for the inevitable?
Hopefully, when it comes, you will have said your goodbyes and put your affairs in order. Too many people are taken away from us at what we perceive are inopportune times, but coming to understand that we very rarely get to see the whole picture or what is best for other people allows us to know that we play a small part in an enormous play, about which we understand very little.
Sometimes death is a lesson for us to learn forgiveness, compassion, to be able to express grief, or to learn how to let go. Sometimes the death of a loved one can allow us to gain a greater understanding of what awaits us on the other side of death, or lead us to begin a journey of spiritual awakening.
How do we know that the hard part is not here in earth school, and that death is a release from the body and lessons we came to learn? Do we really know that death is the end of the road, or do we believe that there is something amazing waiting for us on the other side?
Whatever your beliefs are about death and the afterlife, spend your time wisely whilst you are on this planet. Do not waste your time fearing death, or what will happen to you after death- you will know soon enough when you get there. In the meantime, there is so much to enjoy here on earth whilst you are here- loved ones, Mother Nature, laughter, learning, playing, life. Live now, love now, and learn to be in today for today because who knows what tomorrow has in store for you?
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