Death Is A Preventable Disease.

Via Benjamin Riggs
on Apr 14, 2011
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Why are we so afraid of death that we jump through hoops to ignore it?

Why do we find death so repulsive that we fail to see its beauty?

Its like we’re embarrassed about our impending death, so we want to hide any image or idea that reminds us of our lack of control. That is to say, we hate any thing that reminds us that we will certainly die, but the time and date of our death is, as of now, uncertain…

Joe Yeoman published a beautiful article about a dignified animal’s final days. The comments on Facebook (as seen above) suggested that Joe and myself were way off base in calling death a “beautiful thing.” Why is this animal considered beautiful by everyone on the planet, that is, until it begins to struggle for its last breath?

It seems to me that we have one of two options:

Realize that death is natural.

Death is a dimension of life, so there is no reason to be embarrassed about it. If death isn’t beautiful, then life is doomed to be ugly. Pretty and ugly are terms that co-emerge in a dualistic situation, but life isn’t dualistic. So, it would seem that death, being the inevitability that it is, has no point of comparison, no reference point. It is natural, therefore it is beautiful.

Don’t agree.

Then, join Aubrey De Gray in cultivating a path that cures death:

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About Benjamin Riggs

Ben Riggs is the author of Finding God in the Body: A Spiritual Path for the Modern West. He is also the director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA and a teacher at Explore Yoga. Ben writes extensively about Buddhist and Christian spirituality on Elephant Journal, and his blog. Click here to listen to the Finding God in the Body Podcast. To keep up with all of his work follow him on Facebook or Twitter.


7 Responses to “Death Is A Preventable Disease.”

  1. A few weeks ago, I traveled to my parents' house for a trip. Upon arriving, I could see my 14-year-old labrador was in a bad place. Immediately, I went to her, spent time asking her to give us a sign if she was ready to go. The very next day, a tumor on her spleen ruptured, and the vet who had been counseling my parents on end of life decisions told them, at this point, she had no quality of life left. We made the decision to say goodbye to her that afternoon.

    Those next few hours were some of the hardest and most rewarding I have ever experienced. I was able to meet her spirit in meditation and fully grasp what it meant to watch another living being die. It was the biggest "bittersweet" pang I have ever felt. The beauty of it all – breathless beauty – was indescribable. Yes, it was sad, but it was also right.

  2. ShennyR says:

    I was with both my Mom and Dad when they died. I was privileged to be with them both, as were my siblings. Death holds no fear for me, I believe there is much more to our journey than this physical life. Death and Taxes – two things you can count on! My Dad went quickly and unexpectedly, and my Mom lingered. Beauty? No. Natural? Yes. Totally profound? Yes. Spiritual? Yes.

  3. Today is the one year anniversary of the day my friend buried her daughter. Her baby girl had died 2 days after her 2nd birthday. She was backed over by a neighbor in her driveway. She lived for 45 minutes before her little body gave up. Her 4 year old brother put his hand up to stop the car, and has struggled with not being able to save her. I have not been able to find anything beautiful in the loss of this precious life or the horrendous and excruciating aftermath. Believe me I have tried, with desperation, for any glimmer of anything good. One year later I still come up empty handed.

  4. BenRiggs says:

    Perhaps there isn't anything beautiful about it. As someone who isn't directly involved in the situation you described above, I certainly am not going to tell you that it really is beautiful you just need to look closer, or some pretentious non-sense like that.
    I will, however, ask this question, "Are we looking at two different things?" Certainly the accident itself, and the ensuing 45 minutes were excruciating. Surely, the trauma that the 4 year old brother, the family, and friends must have endured and still be enduring are intense and saddening. The whole situation is sad. I think there is an element of death that is intrinsically sad, in all cases, and this sadness can be exacerbated in extreme cases such as the one you have presented.
    My question is, "Are death and the circumstances surrounding death different?"

  5. TamingAuthor says:

    Trungpa mentored a wonderful book titled Luminous Emptiness. It draws upon his experience guiding those who have left the body through the bardo stages. Worth reading.

    Sogyal Rinpoche's book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying also offers perspective.

    Each death is unique in some senses, each brings its own challenges in terms of those focused on this plane and challenges as we sort through the transition. We discover various levels of compulsion to remain on the wheel of birth and death. And various levels of release and freedom from that compulsion.

    The only thing "beautiful" in the sad story of the girl who perished in the accident is her continued existence, and the realization that we are not the same as our flesh body, which is subject to pretty nasty outcomes.

  6. Yes. I suppose they are. I do see what you are saying. I just can't tell you how this year has shaken me to my core. I have seen death before, but nothing has ever affected me like the loss of this sweet, little one. It shifted everything for me, and I am still trying to find solid ground. I love reading your articles. Thank you for your perspective