Modern attitude towards death

Death is an abstraction for the masses who exhibit a shallow and rather sentimental attitude towards it.

Those who take the time to reflect on the issue for a moment or two, exhaust the topic with the “nobody wants to think back on his deathbed thinking I should have spend more time in the office” quote from who knows whom.

Others go on to muse about living every day as it was the last day of their life — thus motivating themselves to “shipping” products, projects, whatever they feel passionate about. Probably so when they are on their deathbed they can take stock of their life saying: yes, I’ve shipped all that.

Again some others, when they mull over the inevitability of death, they try to show some more compassion towards others or try to live it up, submitting to hedonism — we live only once after all.

All this is symptomatic of the narrow perspective various forms of materialism (including the new age currents with their vulgar-reincarnationist views) force their followers into, preventing those who may still have the chance to face death appropriately from doing so.

According to the teachings of various Traditions life should be organized in such a way that in the moment of death the person should be ready and at the peak of his capacities to do what needs to be done moments before death, in the moment of death and during a certain time after physical death when action is still possible.

To develop these favorable faculties one must incessantly practice concentration, meditation and contemplation (including contemplation of death)— but this is not enough. One must also be knowledgeable about the challenges faced during the dying process -challenges that go beyond physical death. More specifically with concentration, meditation and contemplation one actively prepares throughout his whole life for being maximally present during the experience, not succumbing to fear and not identifying with anything one sees or experiences.

It’s easy to see why modern man who passionately and uncritically follows everything presented to him will inevitably fail in this, facing complete annihilation. His life accurately reflects his death: no time to grasp anything, no presence of mind, no control.

Recommended literature: Tibetan Book of the Death

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