We all have a fear of death (maybe not all the time but at least at some points in time in our lives), and it seems our modern cultures do not usually favour us dwelling on this subject too much, no thanks partly to the mass media. Most people would prefer to talk about their dreams and challenges they face in life in normal conversations. Yet death is as real and constantly present as the things we see around us. Unless we make peace with the reality of death, we may not see life in a balanced and holistic perspective. As noted by this blog, there is a finality about death that can motivate us to make better or fuller use of the limited time we have on earth to make life worth living for ourselves and others.
One of my favourite quotes is “a life lived in the service of others is a life worth living”. It doesn’t really matter the length of time each of us live on earth – for example, I think people who died at a relatively young age, such as John O’Donohue, would have lived a full and fulfilled life by making their days count instead of counting the days (such as John O’Donohue sharing his gifts of poetry and inspiration through writing books). I also believe none of our labour of love, such as helping a neighbour in need or speaking kind words to a friend, is ever in vain or forgotten. Even the most vile people as portrayed in history for committing atrocities in wars and murders, etc, would have at least done some kind acts when they were younger – perhaps in their childhood, they would have made some positive impact in other people’s lives in some ways. Each of us is a complex, multi-dimensional human being, and no one is completely evil or completely good, so to speak. Every seed sown in love will bear fruit and blossom, and every ripple of compassion will spread to the furthest ends of the ocean. We are all interconnected, and a flower blooming in one end of the earth may bring joy to a person, who may interact with another across the world online and bring hope that defies time and distance, and the chain reaction continues.
Also, there is no denying that no matter how much company we keep to comfort a dying person, he or she will eventually need to bear the final journey alone, and we ourselves too need to walk our own path towards the finishing line and beyond. Each of us would have to come to terms with death and different people have different ways to cope with this inevitable reality. Some may take comfort in knowing they are not alone in the sense that many have already gone on before them. Some may like the idea of a certain heaven where angels and ascended beings are cheering them on to complete the race. Some prefer the idea of transition into another realm of higher consciousness. Some may be fine with the idea of nothingness and non-existence in the afterlife. No one really knows for sure. Perhaps what matters most is how we find peace in facing the ultimate unknown.
When I look at mythology for example, when Jesus learnt that Lazarus was going to die in a few days’ time, Jesus deliberately delayed his visit and Lazarus eventually died. Was Jesus being cruel or did he have a higher purpose? Jesus eventually went to Lazarus’ funeral and wept with his sisters Mary and Martha. Then he raised Lazarus from the dead, which I believe is a symbolic act because Lazarus would eventually face death again through old age. Jesus himself faced death eventually too, and he said “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit”. Since Christ can be seen as an archetype of our true self representing all humanity, could it be that he was demonstrating that each of us, when we die, can also say that we commit our spirit into the hands of the Father (or our highest consciousness)? So these are some thoughts I have concerning death and afterlife at this part of my journey, and I am still learning and growing, as we all are in this journey of life and exploring the mysteries.