Who said that we need to be afraid of death?

“Our lineage has been hit by one stroke of misfortune after another. Widowhood has become a common occurrence. I was not able to have children for many years, and when I did give birth, it was with great difficulty. But immediately after the birth, my husband died. Why do we go through this? What do we need to understand? I am beside myself, and I am left alone to bring up the baby.” 

First of all, please accept my sincere sympathy. No matter how philosophically we perceive and accept life, the loss of a loved one is one of the harshest lessons of fate. I intentionally refrained from answering you straight away, because as a rule, so soon after tragedy a person needs emotional support instead of advice, no matter how well-intentioned it is. The fact that you feel stressed is normal. Stress is a natural response after an unexpected misfortune; it causes biological changes, the mind starts working more clearly (or alternatively, it may shut off completely if the person is utterly engulfed by grief), the body goes into survival mode. There are many stories of people accomplishing impossible feats in emergencies: lifting a car, scaling a high fence, etc. But if stress is continuous, it can destroy health and wellbeing. And the basic cause of stress is a fear of or an actual loss: the loss of money, status, health, dreams, etc. And the biggest fear is the fear of death because death is the loss of everything.

According to current psychological research, the fear of death is one of the chief fears of people today: the fear of one’s own death in the first place, and also the deaths of one’s nearest and dearest. We have discussed many times how fear is the main enemy of love, and that truly spiritual people are fearless, as they understand that they are eternal souls and not just temporary physical bodies. Everything related to the body, all relationships and the world in general, are only temporary, so there is no point in getting too attached to anything or anyone since everything is constantly changing. Also, the most important thing is inner peace and living with absolute love, because love is bliss. Only false ego can deprive us of this blissfulness and peace, ego that always feels fear, envy and grievances, and brings anxiety and greed into our lives.

Let us try to understand the fear of death. The fear of death is a taboo subject in our society. We are like an ostrich that tries to escape problems by hiding its head in the sand. Which only reinforces the problem. It is much more practical to recognize that death is as natural as birth, that every one of us will die at an appointed time, whether it is in a few minutes or many decades from now. By accepting this fact, we will cease crippling our minds and driving our fear into our subconscious, and our behavior will change for the better.

There was an experiment run in a famous American university. The students were told, “Imagine that you will die in half of a year.” This group’s behavior changed a lot; these students became more polite, more sincere and kinder. Later many of the students recalled the experiment very fondly, saying that thanks to it they had re-evaluated their priorities, become happier and achieved more in life. Buddha would say, “Those who have truly realized that we all will soon perish, immediately stop quarrels.” 

Unfortunately, in our opportunistic society many people try to exploit even this. Religious sects intimidate by constantly announcing the end of the world (the date of which is always changing) so as to recruit more followers and larger donations. “In Mahabharata (an ancient Indian epic), there is an interesting parable about a great righteous king who came to a stream and saw his dead brothers there. Suddenly he heard a voice from above that told him that if he did not answer the question, “What is the most wondrous thing in this world?” – he too would die. To this the king answered without hesitation, “The most wondrous thing in this world is that we can see death every day, all our relatives can die, but nevertheless we still think that we ourselves will never die; this is precisely what I consider to be the most wondrous thing in the world, that people think and behave as if they will never die.” At this the divine voice declared, “You are indeed wise and have answered correctly.”

But why do people refuse to believe that they will die? It is because deep within our souls we know that we are eternal, that we have no relation to this temporary illusory world. The soul literally exclaims, “Stop identifying yourself with this bag of muscle and bone, stop living by the dog-eat-dog laws of this world, stop disavowing love at every step; only love and service to God can bring the blissfulness that you are striving for so much.” 

But we, having lived many lives in this world, are identifying ourselves with our physical bodies more and more; we increasingly become slaves to the vanities of this world; we become twisted, and our consciousness gets sullied by greed, anger, lust and envy. And instead of the awareness that “I am an eternal soul, a part of God”, such concepts as “I am this body, a part of this temporary world” begin to predominate. 

Together with this we develop a desire to make everything “eternal” in our lives. “Swear eternal love to me”…“I want to earn money so as to never want for anything”, etc. We refuse to accept this obvious truth: everything in this world is temporary. Houses, relationships, societies, the environment, moral and religious dogmas, etc. Our consciousness is getting more and more smothered by ignorance and saturated with fear, the awful enemy of love. We are beginning to constantly fear loss, which is not at all rare in this world, but rather a natural and necessary occurrence. Moreover, it is often orchestrated by the Universe in such a way that during this life we lose whatever we are attached to most of all, that which we have made into an idol. 

Generally speaking, the problem arises when become convinced that happiness lies outside of ourselves: with some person, job, or possession; when something happens to this treasure, we think we have been robbed of our happiness. For example, a woman thinks that her happiness is her husband. She may even call him, “My one and only”. And if this man leaves her, all she can do is cry, “I will never be happy again!”

I deliberately go into this profound thinking. Generally speaking, until a person realizes it and understands the principles of this world, they will not be able to survive any crisis in the right frame of mind. At best, they will use pop psychology, strenuous exercise or booze in order to numb the pain, to move on, to forget about it. But if you have not gone through, not accepted, not faced the situation on the deepest level, if you still have complaints and resentment, e.g., “Why me, God?”, then all the negativity goes to the subconscious level. And the person may suddenly grow old, become seriously ill or contract a life-threatening disease. A person may suffer great misfortune; they have, in fact, attracted this bad luck by their thoughts and behavior and these experiences are the appropriate lessons for them. 

But if they stand tall, then they become wise, peaceful and loving, rising to another level; their fate dramatically changes. On the outside, a person might mourn and grieve for some time. But this is normal – we are living things and we have feelings, and it is very dangerous to suppress feelings and emotions. The right way to endure the situation is to accept the universal truths stated above, consequently seeing the real world and accepting any situation as the Almighty’s grace. Then one will not have grievances or feel despair. By the way, acedia (despair, sloth) is one of the cardinal sins in Christianity.

In this particular case, it is very important to understand this, – women in your ancestry tend to worship life and have a profound fear of death. They idolize and become dependent on those who support them (husbands, fathers). They are without love in their souls; instead of love, there is only strong attachment, which is as destructive psychologically as fierce hate. That is why in your lineage men do not live past 45 years of age, and also why you had serious problems with childbearing. As well, the fate of your child will largely depend on your ability to solve this karmic challenge. So, instead of grieving, despairing and crying, you need to start working on yourself. By the way, your despair and grief send a big blast of negative energy to the souls of the dead, thereby causing them much suffering.

“Ten Steps to Happiness, Health, and Success. A Practical Guide to Personal Fulfillment and Optimum Well-being”, Rami Bleckt

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