“Why are you afraid of death?”
A Buddhist lecturer raised this question as he began to speak about the reflections on life and death in a gathering I once attended at the Buddhist Temple. Indeed, it sprinkled my day with reflection.
Suddenly one mother answered. “I love my kids.” Another lady whispered, “I am not ready yet.” Then one man stood and answered quickly, “I am afraid what my wife will do with my money.”
Then everyone bursts into laughter.
But dying is no laughing matter! Our sensitivities come at variance when this nerve-racking phenomenon becomes the topic of a conversation.
Without doubt, the word death could strike terror into our psyche. Perhaps, when it knocks on our doors, we would definitely shake like a leaf so long as we never die before our death comes.
When I was young and immature, I could not hide even the slightest fear everytime this term reached my ears. And even the thought of it always filled me with strong aversion. But after a long expedition in life with human idiosyncrasy, modesty aside, the Absolute Truth had taken me under its wing.
I had no qualms as I embarked wholeheartedly on a perilous but a beautiful journey and made a reconnaissance of a spiritual festival called death.
Along its route, I hungered for the authenticity of my emergence and its ultimate freedom. Like a wandering river, I could not find a permanent direction. As I finally dived into the ocean of His Oneness, I was cloaked with Self-realization. Without dissembling, I was filled with pang of conscience. I ridiculed and wept at the same time at the idiocy of my ignorant, sinful muddy self.
Thereupon, I was metamorphosed from a wazzock into an astute lover: I discovered the significance of dying and its secret to life. The Beloved transformed the animalistic oddity of my dark soul into an enlightened spirit but such erudition was just another episode of my journey.
A flash of consciousness surfaced as I voyaged through the world of the departed ones who were once closed to me and others whom I do not recognize. They were not lifeless bodies in that peaceful zone but conscious living spirits breathing in another realm of love and incessantly glorifying the Beloved.
As I reached another corner, I caught a glimpse of the Beloved’s Name written boldly on a wide streamer, fluttered in the wind.
The moment of discernible certainty burned me with curiosity. I could not close my eyes to the truth – I saw my consignment to the grave. At that point in time, it was not really a question on why I was afraid to die but why do I have to die?
The burial of my self-image birthed to a new era which manifested a divine cognizance in my whole being. Now as I revelled in my aha moment, I embraced the state of mourning with love: I must die in order to live.
The momentous vow that I seriously pledged was a flickering illumination and a memorable guidance from the Living One who made me witness my interment – which in truth, was the continuance of my life.
Subsequently, the term that frightened me became music to my ears and perhaps an inebriating drink to my soberness. One who walks on the path of love must not be a cunning eluder but a sweet hugger of this honest truth, for “the secret of existence is to have no fear,” says Buddha.
This mundane world is a restaurant where we sit, eat our meals, and then leave, so to speak. Like an evanescent shadow, our presence in this momentary dining place will vanish and as such we are only its hungry buyers, customers or guests.
Thus, we have to know the “ingredients”; learn the cooking directions; and enjoy the “bewildering flavour” of our fleeting life before it bids farewell and returns (without giving us notice) to its rightful owner.
We cannot continue to become incognizant of the secret “recipe” of our sublime being and its primordial realm.
For “Every soul shall taste death.” (Holy Qur’an)