The title question has plagued me for many years. The knowing that I cannot escape it. I cannot avoid it. Is the very reason I have literally stopped living.
I read about buddha, gurus and spiritual teachers and how they have no fear of death. I don't know what they did to overcome their fear. I could literally go into great detail with my fear of death, from witnessing family members die horrifically in front of me. How my own mother's passing was a great struggle for her and she shared her own fear of death with me. Right up to her last breath she would grab things as to show how uncomfortable she was, dying her slow and painful death, gasping for air and then she finally passed. It traumatized me.
Now I live in fear of my own demise. I question and wonder what it will be like. The fear of the unknown. Everything is so uncertain. Each ache, pain, sensation, panic attacks, anxiety, worry that I feel adds to this death anxiety I have. Fear of dying in agony. Of course I have no idea what it will be like and I certainly cannot escape or avoid it, but it doesn't stop me fearing it immensely.
Any guidance would be appreciated. Any words of wisdom or another way to question death. Open my eyes to something different about death. I really need to hear a different perspective so badly, but many people around me avoid talking about death because they fear it too. Which only fuels my fear of death further. Somehow I sense and feel you don't have a fear of death and I would love to know how you view it? How you overcame it? Is there some kind of mantra? Some kind of way to face this without actually dying?
What is death? Are you sure you know what it is? Is it the heart no longer beating, the brain no longer functioning, the soul leaving the body, the dissapearance of the self, the ending of the personality, the ending of awareness…what is it? There are so many different ways to explain it (or attempt to), but as soon as birth happens, or soon after, there is a concept introduced called “death”. A body is lying motionless, and we say “he died,” or “she is dead”. But what does it really mean? If you go into it, the idea of death, can you actually define it as a real thing?
When I was reading your words I had the image come to mind of a wave in the ocean rising, and then as it crashes down again to the surface of the water, it is crying “No! I don’t want to die!”
So what I might say to you is to first see if you actually know for sure what death is. Do you have any memory or experience of it?
If you are not actually sure what death is, then it will be clear that many of these fears are based on assumptions, ideas of what might happen in the future, that have only been based on what other people have told you.
Another way to look at things, is to just be with the fears, rather than trying to out-explain them. They may feel so thickly in the body that no introspection seems to help, in which case, stop fighting with or trying to resolve your fears. Let them be in the body, in the mind, let them play, with perhaps the background awareness that they are rooted in ideas, rather than experience or reality.
You mentioned your past experience with death and others was not pleasant, and so naturally the mind assumes that death is a negative thing. You must have heard of other near-death experiences, or perhaps stories of being with a dying person, where the release is exquisite, serene, or transcendent, rather than scary and fearful.
Everyone fears death to some degree. At least most people do. When you talk of master not fearing death, it is not so much that they are a personality inside the body saying “I do not fear death” but rather that they feel that their existence is timeless, that they are the substance of the universe. Knowing they are timeless, that time is a dance within them, death does not make sense. The idea of death requires time, a future, which can feel very real in the mind of a human being.
I would say be grateful for these fears. Often they can remain buried under many layers in a human. Yours are closer to the surface, let them be there. Let them play out as they wish. If you do not try to avoid them, if you allow yourself to be an empty space for them, then they will not have so much to stick to.
You may not think so, but when I heard you say the words “my own demise” I felt there was something very beautiful and poetic about it. Let yourself die in the moment, not physically, but psychologically, so that there is no one left to interpret or analyse or condemn these fears. Let your mind-made self subside by not fighting with whatever experience presents to itself.
A final thing to say, which I have already mentioned, is to see that actually, you do not know what death is. You are mainly going off hearsay and speculation. We think we can imagine what death is like, but how on earth can you know?
What is it exactly that is afraid of death? Can you pin point the person who fears death, and say “there he is”?
I assume that you sleep every night. In deep, dreamless sleep there is no pain, no past, no future, no person, no world, no family or friends or pleasures, and yet, we gladly go there every night, not even certain that we will wake up again. People fear that death is nothing, and yet they love to sleep every night.
Does any of that help?
Comments for How to Overcome The Fear Of Death?
(from previous website)
Jan 31, 2016
You have helped. NEW
by: Dear Friend
Your words helped me very much. More than you can ever possibly know.