Well, maybe not ha-ha funny, but more “Uh, what’s going on here?” funny. The funny thing about dying is that ninety-nine percent of us are afraid of it and one hundred percent of us do it. Seems silly, or at least inefficient, to waste all that energy on what is inevitable, but alas, it is a hallmark of the human condition to fear what we don’t know.
Aside from the fear, the stigma of dying is really damaging. How many times have you heard someone say “they lost the battle with cancer,” or “It’s a shame he had to die so young?” This perspective on dying suggests a belief that dying is losing and living is winning. But it’s just that, a perspective, a belief—and beliefs, like your favorite pair of argyle socks, are chosen.
Our beliefs run our life, constantly informing us of right and wrong, safe and dangerous, fun and tedious. If our beliefs are chosen then it is true that we have set up rules to a game that we have to lose! Playing a game by my rules and having to lose, well, sucks. If I believe that dying means I failed then I will fight and claw against the inevitable death as long as humanly possible. But, is that the point?
I mean, I get where this comes from. In order for our species to have evolved from the primordial soup and survive this long, the fight or flight part of our nervous system had tuned to value life and reject death—that’s a good thing. But its 2014, we are not running for our life from tigers or bears, instead, we’re talking to the Apple genius and haggling to get a deal on designer luggage. These are hardly survival activities.
Why, then, the stigma about dying? It comes from a limited view of what the human experience is. When you view the human experience as being bound in this physical body then, yes, death is death and that’s the end. You don’t get to eat ice cream or watch sunsets anymore, you’re dead, game over, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
However, if we expand our perspective a bit and look at life in a larger context as the evolution of your soul weaving in and out of this world, learning lessons and having fun doing it, well then our perspective must change.
The Eastern spiritual traditions are more favorable on this view than we tend to be in the west. The idea of reincarnation pervades many Eastern cultures and the way I see it everything else I can observe that is part of the natural universe lives then dies then lives again. All things move in cycles of life, death and rebirth, why would we suspect that we are any different?
So then what is the value of dying? Well maybe it’s where our soul gets to reconnect and recharge its batteries after the years and years of work we just did. Maybe it’s when we get back in touch with our true divine nature. Maybe it’s where we see and remember that we have spent a lifetime as an expression of the infinite.
That sounds pretty good, right? Why would anyone be afraid of that? So how then do we get back to this blissful, heavenly, experience of personal and collective divinity? We have to die! Maybe death is a reward for a life well lived. Maybe you finished all the work your soul needed to finish here on this planet in this lifetime and diseases like cancer are the most efficient way for you to die and revisit the other side.
In that case you’re dying because you’ve won! You finished your life! Congratulations and great work! To look at this great and amazing thing that you just did (living your life) as a failure because you died really sours the experience.
Ultimately how do you know that you died because you messed up your life or because you won? Who knows? But if you can’t know wouldn’t you much rather choose a perspective that allows you to enjoy and celebrate the life you lived? If you don’t know whether you won or lost, choose winning, I bet you’ll enjoy that ride a whole lot more.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Image: Author’s Own