On Life and Death

We have come to look upon life as a conflict with death – the intruding enemy, not the natural ending – in impotent quarrel with which we spend every stage of it.

When the time comes for youth to depart, we would hold it back by main force.

When the fervor of desire slackens, we would revive it with fresh fuel of our own devising.

When our sense organs weaken, we urge them to keep up their efforts.

Even when our grip has relaxed, we are reluctant to give up possession. We are not trained to recognize the inevitable as natural, and so cannot give up gracefully that which has to go – but needs must wait till it is snatched from us.

The truth comes as conqueror – only because we have lost the art of receiving it as guest.

The Four Stages of Life by Rabindranath Tagore

Author Commentary: The subject of life and death is often viewed in the context of light and dark. It is said that one of the greatest fears of human beings is the fear of dying. The great mystic Osho has written an entire book called “Let me teach you about death” (मैं मृत्यु सिखाता हूं) (a highly recommended read by me). The Bhagavad Gita has many references to life and death – the nature of the body, the mind, the spirit – what truly dies and what can never die and many such discussions.

So, despite all these spiritual teachings available to us – what is it about death that causes so much fear within us? Where does this fear come from? What can we do to overcome this fear?