One of my brothers friends passed away this weekend. He was in a car crash. I won't go into the details of what happened but it got me thinking about the objective truth of death and why we have such a hard time coming to terms with it.
In our society, the philosophical concept of death is something that's really swept under the rug. In other words, we only contemplate the meaning of death when we have to, when we're directly affected by it. We see the superficial aspects of it all the time in movies and t.v. shows; but when something happens to someone we know or know of, we're suddenly thrown into an dark abyss of thoughts and questions about the meaning of life and the inevitability of our own death, as well as thoughts and concerns about those close to us.
In our everyday lives, death is the very last thing we want to think about. Even writing this now, I feel a compulsive need to stop and just get on with my life; but I really think death is something we all need to come to terms with in some way or another. The fact is; we can only ever leave this world through death. That's it, there's no other way for us to leave. That's a scary thought isn't it? Or is it?
Every night when we fall asleep, we leave this world behind.
How could death be any different?
Do you ever remember your everyday life when you fall asleep?
Does it ever bother you that you don't remember?
How can you miss something that you're not conciously aware of?
Why are we so afraid of death anyway? What is it that we're actually afraid of? Do we even know? Have we ever really thought about it? What if there's nothing to be afraid of?
The only reason we're afraid of dying is because we don't know what's going to happen to us when we die. But if you look back on your life to all the things you were afraid of when you were young because you didn't know what they were; eventually when you learned the truth about them, you stopped being afraid. Might death not be the same thing?
Maybe death is a realisation. A realisation of truth. A realisation of love. A realisation of home. Maybe our negative perception of death is all wrong because we can only see it from one side, our side. Maybe it's a necessary stage in our spiritual evolution. Maybe it's the contrast that we need in order to appreciate the true value of life.
Objectively, we don't really know what death is; so ultimately it's not death that we're afraid of, it's our concept of death that we're afraid of. But that concept is our own creation.
Even to this day there are ancient cultures around the world that celebrate death, and accept it as a natural part of life. They consider birth and death as doors into and out of this physical plane of existence. Kind of makes sense if you think about it. I recently saw a quote that said " We are not human beings on a spiritual journey, we are spiritual beings on a human journey." I don't know about you, but when I saw that quote there was something inside of me that really resonated with it. Kind of like my soul or spirit was in agreement. I love it when stuff like that happens, it's almost like spiritual deja vu.
So maybe death is just the doorway back to wherever we came from, maybe it's just a shift in our consciousness from this physical plane back to the non-physical. Whatever it is, it's a necessary something that allows life to be. Everything in the universe has an opposite, and without death there could be no life.
I think the best thing we can do with death is; instead of fearing it, commit to use it as a contrast to appreciate the fragile value of life, and to treat life as the truly fragile and valuable thing that it is and never take it for granted or complain that it's not good enough. That saying "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" is never any clearer than when contemplating the loss of life. But I think if we could live our lives through that realisation, our world would be a much brighter place.
Life is what you make of it, and in this context so is death. So I think we can use death to live life more consciously and appreciate it all the more. Most people take their lives for granted in one way or another, myself included. But if we can remind ourselves just how lucky we are to be here and enjoy it while we are, then we can give life the respect it deserves by being grateful and living it to it's fullest, the way it was meant to be lived.