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Reflections on Death and Dying

  • Laughter cannot be without tears, day cannot be without night, heat cannot be without cold, and birth cannot be without death. Just witness both these extremes, and balance in life will begin to happen on its own. ~Osho
  • Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified. ~ Alan Watts.
  • It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that the possibility of death has been holding pretty steady at lOO% for quite some  time. There’s only one thing that we have to do in life, and that is to die. I have often met people who use this fact to justify their ambivalence toward health information. But I take a different view. I have never pursued health hoping for immortality. Good health is about being able to fully enjoy the time we do have. It is about being as functional as possible throughout our entire lives and avoiding crippling, painful and lengthy battles with disease. There are many better ways to die, and to live.
  • People think that only others will die. They forget that sooner or later they will, too… Make the one word “death” master in your heart, observing and letting go of everything else. ~Suzuki Shosan
  • Buddha called death one of the main forms of suffering. He was referring not just to the physical act of dying, but also to the leaving of this life, with all its pleasures and joys, its relationships and attachments. We don’t know what happens to us after death, but just the thought that we will no longer exist as we have in this world is terrifying.
  • An awareness of death reminds us of the precious nature of life, and thus provides us with a saner perspective on the problem of the life we are living. Nevertheless, such an awareness does not lessen our fear of the fact that we will die.
  • In depression we are keenly aware of death. Indeed, the thought of death seems to always be present in our minds. We may think about our own death often. At times we may even wish for it. We also think about the deaths of all the people and possessions and relationships we hold dear. We become acutely aware of the impermanence of all things around us.
  • And our perception is correct. This world is impermanent. Everything is living and dying around us constantly.
  • There is a story of a woman during Buddha’s time whose child had died. She came with the child to Buddha, asking if he could bring the child back to life. Buddha responded that he could do so if she could bring him a mustard seed from a family that had not known the death of a parent, child, or friend. She went eagerly looking for the mustard seed. When she returned, empty-handed she had learned that there is no one who is not affected by death.
  • Buddhist literature—and the literature of other religions as well—is  full of stories of people who began searching for answers to the great questions of life after an encounter with death. The Buddha himself began his own spiritual search after watching a corpse being taken to its final resting place. So we could say that in depression we are fortunate, because we have a chance to taste death, to practice impermanence, to see death clearly for what it is.

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