Should we be afraid of Death?

Sri Chinmoy says of death:

“What is death? Death is the immortal pilgrim’s short rest along the road of Eternity. Death is a necessary experience for human beings at the present state of their evolving consciousness.”

Excerpt from My Rose Petals, Part 3 by Sri Chinmoy.

Death is the journey into the unknown. Death means the end of our physical body; to some people this feels like the end of life. However, the Seer Poets have suggested that we are not the body but spirit. If we can have an identity with our inner self then we will lose our fear of death. Death becomes instead merely a process of transition from one stage of life to the next.

On the day I die, when I’m being
carried toward the grave, don’t weep.

Don’t say, “He’s gone! He’s gone!”
Death has nothing to do with going away.

The sun sets and the moon sets,
but they’re not gone. Death
is a coming together.

– Rumi (1)

To overcome a feeling of death we need to cultivate a sense of spiritual identity. If we live only in the mind and intellect we will always be sceptical about the spiritual life. The intellect has its purpose and benefits, but the mind also has its limitations. To discover our real self we need to transcend the mind and dive deep into our spiritual heart, where our soul abides. If we can learn to meditate and quieten the mind we will become aware of a powerful inner reality. This embodies a consciousness more illumining and real than our ordinary mental awareness. We may not be able to prove this to others; it is something we can only experience for ourselves. Through meditation if we can feel a real and abiding peace then we will feel the soul is a living reality and not a mental hallucination. The lofty inspirations of the Seer poets will resonate with our inner realisations.

“Death is but changing of our robes to wait
In wedding garments at the Eternal’s gate.

– Sri Aurobindo (2)

In the west the concept of reincarnation does not have widespread belief. However in Buddhist and Hindu traditions reincarnation is an integral part of their philosophy. The idea of reincarnation is that the human soul needs to experience many different experiences before it is able to achieve liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Reincarnation enables the human soul to gain experiences, through which it can make spiritual progress.

Nothing on earth is permanent. The only certainties in life are that all creatures must die and pass away. Death is as natural as birth; why should we fear that which is perfectly natural and inevitable? That which gives us life also takes away life. But here death only means the extinction of the body. The soul merely passes from one body to another. For the soul life is immortal, death has no meaning. This is the message of the Upanishads, as Sri Chinmoy says

“Before death, life is a seeker.
After death, the same life becomes a dreamer.
Before death, life struggles and strives for Perfection.
After death, the same life rests
and enjoys the divine Bliss with the soul.” (3)

References

(1) Rumi ode 911 translated by Coleman Barks

(2) Excerpt from: The Fear Of Life And Death by Sri Aurobindo

(3) Excerpt from The Upanishads: The Crown Of India’s Soul by Sri Chinmoy.

See articles on The Vedas and Upanishads

Article by: Tejvan Pettinger, Oxford, Sri Chinmoy Centre

6 thoughts on “Should we be afraid of Death?”

  1. i am 54 years old. i watched my father die. he seemed to suffer. Is that all there is in this life, to suffer and die?

  2. Well stated article.

    Although I respect other religions, I always feel that an approach that does not provide for Atheists or Agnostics is rather constrained to say the least. Surprising or not, even an Athiest beleives in the soul – they just dont beleive that there is an eternal bliss OR anything like a reincarnation.

    Death is frightening and no man can honestly deny this – a person can be around death, think of it, see it, give it – but they will always be afraid of their own eventual non-existence in the universe.
    The point is, that human kind has desperately (and rather skillfully) engineered tales, legends and stories to found the religious beleifs you refer to. The purpose of these beleifs is to comfort man against the most frightening prospect of all – his destruction. Man is so scared of his own non-existance, that he convinces himself of the religious stories he reads. He spreads the word, he obeys it obstinately and he will even kill for it. This is all in the desperate and rather unrealistic mission to make his dreams of salvation real. This, my friends, is religion.

    So where is the comfort for Atheists? It takes a long time of thinking and rationalisation, but the comfort comes in a form that we all take for granted. Life itself. Human beings have been obsessed with making sense of their existence and living completely obsessive lives just to prolong life, that they have forgotten what is most important. Millions of sperm miss out on proper life. Millions of babies die. Thousands of children die. Millions of people die everyday around the world by mere accidents. Life is not promised and assured – it is something that has arisen by chance…

    If you are reading this, you are a functioning human being (with the benefit of literacy) – you are blessed. You are not blessed by some “god” that will save you, you are blessed with the “right now” – something that billions upon billions of organisms miss the chance to have.

    As for death? Without death life wouldn’t quite be the same. I wouldn’t be able to tell people out there that “RIGHT NOW is a beautiful moment” because it simply would be lying. The beauty of our existence is that it is limited. Think of it like a running race. Life is a 100 meter dash with the finish line in sight. You give it everything you’ve got, everything this earthly body can give and the adrenaline and excitement is incredible. Life is not a long distance race where the end is not foreseeable – where people go slowly and try and ‘preserve’ themselves.
    This is how I view life anyway.

    Death is your finish line, and you only have a short time – so give it everything you’ve got, enjoy the time you have, and be thankful that you ever even got the chance to run 🙂

  3. i don’t think so. Don’t be afraid of anything…
    .. I have been thinking over it, when do a man start to fear anything. it is NOT inborn, we all know. We were not afraid when we were children.

    so is it necessary to be afraid of life and death..? i say the times we spent on scaring ourselves , should be used for gathering more knowledge and understanding about it, and accept it.
    and show that fear is an overrated thing.

    that’s what i do….

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