Death, the first taboo
By Advaita Mihai Stoian
I will start with the comment about this subject from mirabilis_mundi:
“There are some subjects that we are alienated from, as a culture. Alienated in the sense that they are avoided tendentiously. One of them is death. The presence of death is illusorily covered, we are mesmerized into believing in eternal youth. So we have built a net of images that are continuously projected on ourselves, which we unconsciously ingurgitate, daily: media image is of a youth that is more youthful from decade to decade. We live in a society of uplifting, wrinkle decreasing creams. Even the more or less spiritually orientated choices of life have suffer from this blinding infusion and we are facing the Enlightenment rush or How to avoid death \spiritual\ agendas.
Why are we running away from death? It is the most inevitable thing that will happen to us in our life. The human society use to have rites and tales about death. Today, still unexplained fully from the scientific point of view, this part of life is covered and we are taught to postpone facing it. What it will happen if people’s awareness would be turned towards becoming consciousness that we are approaching death with every minute we live? Would our life become more meaningful? Would we stop chasing material fortunes, be less individualistic, care more for the loved ones, love more, be present more, here and now? Would we stop running blindly to work and back, and kids, and loans for cars and houses, and stress and high blood pressure, and divorces, and loneliness? Would we be able to stop the circle moving? Would the awareness of the inevitably approaching death give more meaning to the moments when we truly love, when we truly see, when we touch the face of the ones we love – the child we gave birth to, the mother elder now, the friend, the lover? What would we do differently? How would we build our lives as a individual, as a family, as a community, as a society? What would be our priorities, our values?
The life we live is our power and strength, our force of transformation due to the mystic hiatus called death. And here stands the whole magic: we become eternal not by running away from death, or denying its inevitability but by passing through it while still alive.”
Many fear death because they fear life
Moreover we have to become aware of the fact that surviving our life is not the same as living our life. Many fear death because they also fear life. And in this way the only life strategy they have is to survive it. However, this keeps them away from living life and enjoying its amazing lessons. What can be more stupid than trying to get away from the most amazing experience that we are given on this planet: our own life. I know that some pretend they are living their life just because they are doing all kinds of things (of which some of them are meaningless or sometimes even stupid), or they are doing anything that crosses their mind. But this is just another way to survive; it is a survival kit that has an anti-depression (anti-suicide) program based on entertainment attached to it. Remembering about death is not possible without remembering about life for they are the two faces of existence.
This is why the ancient “memento mori” is at the same time “memento vivere“ as an ultimate act of awareness. He who is not aware of Death will also not be aware that he is alive. Even if it seems simple, by attentively looking around you you will notice a lot of people who are more like robots, their life being replaced with a lot of schemes that keep the machine running on auto-pilot. Yet we are constantly reminded about life and death by the problems that we face in our everyday life, when we are not attentive to them and they take us by surprise. When we are awakened and attentive to our life (and to our death :) ) then the problems lose their scary appearance and simply become phenomena which we detachedly contemplate and lessons from which we learn.
Love as a teacher
Death becomes a taboo not because it is so scary (for there is no reason for this), but because nowadays people have become so attached to life that they don’t dare to live it! And not living enough will increase the anxiety when facing Death. The idea “the more you save the more you have” (an idea that seems to be suggested to us by all the real life situations – see the current crisis that leads many to this conclusion) makes many people unconsciously try to save life for later. It has somehow become the instinct of citizens throughout the world today to live life on ‘economic mode’ in order to save for later. Yet something tells us deep inside that this is not according to the fundamental experiences that makes us human beings. For instance, love teaches us another lesson: in love the more you give the more you have!
Everyone has experienced this at least once and could intuitively understand this principle. We can see from this perspective why the first unconsciously accepted principle in life (“the more you save the more you have”) is going against Life itself and somehow makes us avoid (save) our life and thus fear Death that in a way becomes inevitable.
How often do we deny the reality as it is because it is not according to our expectations, projections, concepts? Then we try to save it for later, putting everything on auto-pilot and go to sleep in a kind of protective psycho-mental-hibernation until life (with all its disappointments and unpredictability) is gone and we are ready for departure. But instead of being ready for departure we feel that something is wrong and we’ve missed something: Life! And then again, the phenomenon of Death appears to be a scary, premature, unwanted, unnecessary, brutal end to Life. If we had lived with full intensity all this time… Death would have shown us a different face :)
A life lived with intensity means taking risks
Death and RiskIndeed intensity in life means a lot of risks, and today we are not so good at taking risks. We try desperately to eliminate spontaneity and risks from our life because they seem to threaten our “safe” journey through life. But upon closer inspection we can see that the only one who is safe in this way is the ego – the self-delusional system that we have created in order to successfully ignore Reality as it is and to live in this self- induced reality that is as perfect as our imagination can deliver. The one who dares to laugh a lot will be also be exposed to cry a lot. The one who risks loving a lot will also risk suffering when Love is not correctly understood. And ultimately the one who dares to live a lot will also face death a lot, almost everywhere! (see here the magical power to dare video and comments). But these days we try to become premature adults (no wonder so many of us suffer from all kinds of premature… something) and aim to finish school as early as possible in order to retire for the rest of our lives in the peace of a predictable time, career, love, family and destiny.
Life, a lesson in itself
However, what we forget is that life itself is a lesson too and the more we want to finish the lessons and the school, the more we want to finish life. What we see in the case of most adults nowadays are kids in denial of school – kids who ran away from school and who are still trying to stay away from it. They are trying to show that they are done with school and nothing is new anymore, there is no more homework and no more teachers. How many things are today’s adults ready to learn?
Do you dare to live?
When was the last time you dared to challenge your daily existence with something unexpected, amazing, spontaneous? How many times did you dare to investigate a rumor or an unusual fact on your own despite the warnings about “conspiracy theory” or “political incorrectness” or “insufficient scientific data” and other such warnings that are only destined for the grown up kids to behave in the way they are supposed to? How many times have you been forming your judgments purely on your heart and not on what TV says or on what other people tell you? How many times did you dare to challenge the “consensus reality” lately, and to take a point of view that is radically different from others despite the constant warning of: “different is bad because it is where terrorism is born”. How many times did you dare to love without limits lately and without the “security belt” of coolness even after the first excitement had left your relationship? How many times did you look into the things you miss deep inside your heart and make a plan to go there and to start to act on that plan? How many times did you succeed to comply with an inner discipline, risking becoming different through your inner transformation of weakness instead of remaining in line with the others through the resemblance of mediocrity? How many times did you let yourself be uplifted by a pep-talk or by a simple movie and then start to seriously apply what you have learned there? Why almost none of these aspects are known by most of the people today? after all they are aspects of life but we treat them in the same way we treat Death: with the same paralyzing fear. It’s no wonder that most people today are happy just surviving life, even in conditions of well-being that no other generations have enjoyed in their lifetime!
And on top of this, we tend to ignore the simple fact that a predictable life – which we strive so much to obtain – gives us an unbearable feeling about the unpredictability of Death. An intensive and spontaneous life (unpredictable) will include Death as a part of it, a turning point in the journey through this amazing lesson.
Compare the above mentioned ideas with the modern concept of “being cool”! This concept comes as an adaptation to the growing anxiety that the spontaneity of life creates in us when we try to completely control and predict it. Becoming cool means in fact to become numb to any emotions or feelings, it is a caricatural description of the concept of detachment to be found in every spiritual tradition. The more cool we are the more immature we remain and we tend to preserve the child locked inside as a last frontier of the real life. And for this we put on these hilariously dramatic masks of serious adults who are denying any part of their childhood. As an opposition to this we can also sometimes see – especially among New Age followers – infantile adults, those who have bodies of grown ups but behave with the same infantilism – but not with the same innocence – as children. Both aspects are the tragic reaction to the simple and natural process of evolving and learning that is not limited to anything but Death (and then only as a break to change the manuals). The love principle
Living our life according to the second principle (the more you give the more you have!), which i call the love principle, brings us closer to Life itself and then Death appears only to be a part of Life, the transformational part that is always there to support all the updates. The more (intensively) we live the more life we have would be the principle that blows away the taboo of death, placing death in its natural place in our life.
Now the floor is open for debate, and sharing experiences of life and death, so act!
Read more: mihaistoian.net
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