Friday, 2 August 2019

Are You Prepared to Die?

I was recently present at a conversation in which someone asked if old people were ever happy to die or if they would cling onto life regardless, even when they were ill and in pain. The general view was that, whatever their physical and mental condition, most people would try to live for as long as they could. There are certainly some who do seek to die because of long-term sickness and extreme pain or incapacity but, by and large, the old people today hold on to life for as long as possible even when they are unable to enjoy much about it. This, it was agreed, is because of the natural human desire for self-preservation, and is universal.

I disagreed. I thought that the fact, if true, simply showed the lack of belief in God and the absolute refusal of modern men and women to think in terms of an afterlife. We are indoctrinated to believe this to be wishful thinking and so we reject it as fantasy. I said that the reluctance to face and accept death is the mark of a person completely out of harmony with reality, someone who has cut himself off from not only the spiritual but the natural too. For, even if the spiritual is ignored, we should accept natural cycles and know that there is a time to let go and depart this life. For myself, I said, I would not be concerned about death once I felt I had done what I was supposed to do and fulfilled my obligations. I would be nervous because it is a tremendous step into the unknown and I do believe in some kind of post-mortem judgement when your earthly life has to be accounted for, but I would not be frightened nor would I try to resist it or prolong life beyond its natural point.

Death is the summation of life and should be completely accepted. If you submit to God's will in this matter and resign yourself to his keeping in humility then whatever you may or may not have done in your life you will be all right. The creature is returning to the Creator and that is a tremendous thing to be faced with a sense of awe but also wonder and excitement. It is only the person who rejects his Creator who need fear death.


Eric said...

My first intuitive spiritual view was that somehow consciousness must be universal rather than divided. We will cease to be but come back again as a new iteration of consciousness, like a tree shedding its leaves during autumn so new ones can grow. Since birth inevitably happens, death must be transitory into a new birth. This would mean there is only one consciousness that everybody shares, thus after death "you" would grow out again as a new leaf and experience life just like you did before, but in a new form. Meaning, consciousness re-experiencing itself. Regardless if the population grows or reduces, it is always the same consciousness. I think that this 'reincarnation process' was inevitably the case before Christ, when our consciousness was in fact more groupish, wheras after Christ, our individual souls became more mature, so that we might actually fall of that tree like ripened fruit and follow Christ into something better and more permanent.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I agree. If Jesus needed to die, then so do we - it is a vital part of the plan. It is also something of a 'test of faith', greater for some than others; but for the elderly (those over about seventy), it should be easier - because that is the normal lifespan. Not to want to die is, in fact, an evil temptation - as can be seen from transhumanism, in its various forms.

William Wildblood said...

It's understandable that we regard death with a degree of fear because we don't know what happens afterwards but imagine if there were no death and we carried on in this world endlessly. That really would be a horror. We should be able to feel in ourselves, both physically and mentally, the natural phases of birth, growing to maturity, full expression and then a gradual winding down and turning inwards. Of course, accidental and early deaths are not part of this pattern but they fall into a different category and should be considered separately from the natural cycle.

S.K. Orr said...

Excellent post, William, and so true. Just this week, my wife had a conversation with a young woman in her twenties. The woman is soon to give birth to her first child, and she has spent her entire pregnancy absolutely obsessed with the fear that she will die in childbirth, or before her child learns to say "Mommy," or before he/she can start attending school, or before the child graduates, or before the child is married, and so on. My wife talked her down from a sort of panic attack about all this, but the young woman remains fixated on the idea that if she plays her cards right, she will somehow avoid death. At one point, my wife asked her, "You DO realize, don't you, that you're going to die someday? That you're not going to make it out of here alive?" And the young woman nodded in agreement, but her eyes said, "Well, who knows...?"

William Wildblood said...

I suppose there have always been people like that but perhaps there are more nowadays when death has been removed from a position of naturalness to something almost freakish. The thing is if this young woman would allow herself to have bit of faith she would see that death is not to be feared but can be thought of as entry to much greater life, free of all the stresses and worries there are here.

Andrew said...

I agree. If Jesus needed to die, then so do we - it is a vital part of the plan.

Scripture seems fairly clear that Jesus died in order to conquer death (for us). Making it possible that we might overcome death, if we sufficiently conform ourselves to the image of Jesus and thus tapping into the Resurrection power that was released when Christ rose from the dead. I don't believe death was ever part of God's plan and He wants to lead us back to a place where it becomes unnecessary again.

-Andrew E.