Think of all that is ‘your’ individual life. Everything including all your memories, your body, your possessions, your relationships, all your thought, hopes, regrets, your feelings etc. What if all that came to an end. That is what we call death, the ending of all of that. And then what happens. People offer all sorts of opinions and beliefs. But can we admit that we really do not know? We may like to believe this or that but why do we feel the need to adopt beliefs at all? Is it that death is the Great Unknown and we are afraid of the unknown. Death is the essence of the fact that through our lives we accumulate so much knowledge and experience but that this one thing, the nature of the ending of all that, the ending of the known, is itself unknown!
How we cling to the known! My knowledge, my family, my fashion-sense, my possessions . . . . and yet we know that none of this travels with us beyond the grave. Indeed we do not know if there is any such thing as ‘us’ beyond the grave.
If death is a fact, if the ending of all of that is a fact, why can we not simply accept it? This question is not a rhetorical one, it really needs thinking about.
All our lives we have felt the pressure of the need to accumulate, possessions, friendships, op9inions, photographs and other memories, all of that. And we are in denial that there is nothing in all of that of fundamental importance because one day it will end. Death is a challenge, an in-your-face challenge to everything we call ‘life’, which if looked at in this way, has been a continuous struggle from cradle to grave, from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night (as the slaves used to put it) – AND FOR WHAT?
So, death puts life into question, into sharp relief. This is very clear when you see the body of a loved one laid out. The very fact of death makes you sit up and listen and enquire into life.
All this struggle has been for nothing. There, that is it. That is the ending of it. No religious or spiritual tradition entertains the belief that the individual personality exists after death. Maybe the soul does (they say) but everything personal dissolves! Face the truth! You do not care a fig if your soul continues or not, what you care about is the ending of the personal life, this personality with all its memories and identifications!
Is the struggle we call life, this continuous process of trial and tribulation with some small pleasures, is this really living? If the ending of this personal accumulation is death, do we have to wait for the physical death to let it go? Or, can we die in every moment? Die to all personal pain, ambition, pleasure and so on, the whole circus we call life?
Then what would be physical death but a continuation of real living, living that is outside of time, outside of struggle?
When we say we are afraid of death is it not only fear of living, of real living, a hanging on to the past, of that past which, in effect, is already dead? What we call life may in fact be a rather morbid imitation.