Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Death Is A Friend

To talk about death is a taboo. Hardly, if ever, would you be able to get a spirited conversation going on the subject. Dying is one big fear that dogs us. Like most things that we fear, we vanish it out of our minds just to give us the quiet we seek no matter how flitting.

But dying should not be something we should be worried about. The controversial Budhist Guru, Sogyal Rinpoche, perhaps to put accross the silliness of fearing death, once remarked, "To die is extremely simple. You breathe out, and you don't breathe in."

Rinpoche believes that much of what is wrong in Western society arises from the denial of death. This denial of death, he claims, actually complicates problems that exist in Western society. This is why as he puts it, in Western society “there is no long-term vision, there is little thought devoted (italics supplied) to consequences of actions, and little or no compassion."

People see death as terrible, as tragic. Because they want to live, they see death as the enemy of life and therefore deny death, which then becomes even more fearful and monstrous.

Beneath this fear of death lies "the ultimate fear” as Repoche would call it. It is the fear of looking into ourselves. We would rather suspend ourselves in the state of not knowing rather than be confronted with the truth of who we are.

Death, in truth, could be a friend. "Death holds the key to the meaning of life," said Repoche. This is the reason the Trappist brothers regularly greet each other with the Latin phrase “Memento Mori” - remember you are dying, to remind themselves that now is the time to live. Life is simply too short to just exist.

Remembering brings our life into focus. We are only just pilgrims in this life. Sooner or later our voyage has to end. Remembering calls us to sort out our priorities so we would not waste our lives just wandering. It helps us take care of the most important things in life first. We won’t be passing this way again. It would be tragic if we exit life’s door knowing we left very important things undone only because we let the trivial dominate our lives and left the crucial untouched.


  1. This is a really great post. The fear of death can also be motivating in the same sense as accepting, in my opinion. What I mean is, the fear of dying without having done much is a great motivator. At least for me, I want to live, and I want to live a life that will leave a better place behind when I do die. Though, perhaps it is because I have accepted, I will die, eventually. So maybe I have a mute point. :)

  2. Nice post.
    But it's interesting you say that it would be a pity to have left important things undone and to have left the crucial untouched.

    What is important and what is crucial is a cultural issue.

    Even more...the next thought following this post is:
    is a life of a person who was not able to do what he thought important a lesser life that that of something who has done nothing else than realising his dreams?

  3. While talking about death may be taboo, joking about it is not, at least not in easy-going circles. For instance, this was on the wall at my school.

    "When I die, I want to go peacefully, in my sleep, like my grandfather did. Not screaming and yelling like the passenger in his car."

  4. I'm so ecstatic to read this! I just wrote about death!

    you gave a hungry death skeptic a food to eat!

    If you have a minute check it out at my other blog lunarhemizphere dot com.Thanks!

  5. Very good and thought provoking reflection on death. Since death is inevitable, it summons us to live our life to the fullest, and to appreciate the present moment. Too, from a Christian perspective, we must live by doing good to others, loving God and our neighbors as God has commanded us to do. This way, we are always ready for death, for it is only in dying that we are born to eternal life.

    Eli, Business Sphere blog

  6. Interesting idea....and your title caught me. I saw twice in my dream how it is to die.. It is not even painful as numbness takes over everywhere. I am not really afraid to die, all I want is that my loved ones get settled and are happy when it's my time to pass away. :)

    Thanks for this. Highly appreciated.

  7. I love the idea of death being a friend. As a kid I have always been afraid of the thought of dying. I guess because it took a good friend away so early. I soon came terms with the idea of man living on a borrowd time and the need to live our life the best way we know how.

    Great post!

  8. Stumbled by your post via stumble upon. Death is a friend, I agree. Like you have said, it puts our life on focus. It is also a leveller I must add. In its face, we are al the same.

  9. True! Death is a transition that everyone on earth has to pass through. What makes us afraid is the way to death. In most cases death follows a sad and painful experience like severe ailments, accidents, and others. Only few die of old age without complications, and those who experience such death are blessed enough by the Maker.

  10. I actually saw my Mother and Father die when I was very young and niether were afraid. That took the fear of dying away that I might otherwise have had all of my life. However I can't say that it made me do anything great with my life or enjoy it any more. I'm happy for the experiences of living and feeling emotions, but I've always felt I was just exsisting until it's my time to face my true reality.

  11. Sound sans sense,
    Nice post, we need to love death as this is part of the journey.
    The nice thing is to go with the smile, peaceful mind.
    It looks simple but we need to work harder.
    Happy blogging and best wishes to you.

  12. Great post!

    And thanks for your kind words on my blog :)


  13. Nice post. It gives us a lot to think about.

  14. I'm really glad I found your page on EntreCards. I really like this post and know the feeling of denying myself to think about death much too well. I've started a blog where I dig deep inside myself to find the answers to the questions and thoughts that torture me and thus are usually suppressed (The Evolution of Introspection: http://evolutionofintrospection.blogspot.com/). I'm not afraid to stare them straight in the eye. Sorry for the shameless plug but I only do it because it fits so well with this post.

    By the way, I love the greeting "Memento Mori." Some people could look at that as a depressing thought but the Trappist Brothers have turned it into a celebration of life!

    Anyway, I could go on all day about this stuff. I'll definitely be coming back to your blog, keep it up!