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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Stop Intellectualizing Death

" With death ends everything. There's nothing to look forward to with hope and anticipation. The end of body is the end of human existence. Human beings, especially 'enlightened' people and mystics, philosophize death and weave falsely comforting philosophies around it because we're all scared of death........' English novelist Graham Greene wrote this to his Indian friend and fellow novelist R K Narayan. There's nothing to look forward to because nothing's left once you die. You shall have to accept it without being influenced by any sugary-talk or the so-called romanticism of death. Mankind has been frightened as well as intrigued by death and that's the reason, we love to romanticize and intellectualize it. In fact, there's nothing that can be romanticized about death. Psychologists like Sigmund Freud, Adler and Carl Gustav Jung have unanimously agreed that we tend to talk too much about things and phenomena we're intrinsically fearful of. That explains, why we talk so much about god and death. The simple reason is that we're fearful of them. Ghalib's protege and later Ghalib's patron, Nawab Shefta of Rampur wrote in one of his Urdu couplets, ' Maut ka khauf taari hai har pal/Vagarna kyon itne falsafon ka hai jungle' (There's a constant fear of death/Otherwise, why there's a jungle of so many philosophies?). Bengali poet Jibanand Das aptly said, 'Mrityur bhoye/Darshan jonmaye' (Fear of death, gives birth to philosophy).

Since death is the ultimate and absolute end, heaven, hell, god and the idea of afterlife emerged as lullabies to keep human beings in a permanent state of stupor. Nazim Hikmat writes in Turkish, ' Ea fest fif un'last e urvaan/Tufij de est ebnoz a'az ' (This life, just this life/Beyond anything is a deception and delusion). The very thought of death makes all of us shudder and all sugar-coated philosophies take a back seat. Though John Keats wrote immortally in 'Ode to a nightingale' ' I've been half in love with easeful death,' the 26-year-old poet cried like a child and held the hand of the nurse beseeching, 'I don't want to die.......' Who wants to die?

The point is: Why all philosophies, religions and spiritual seekers try to console and mislead us by saying that there's a better life ahead and the soul is perennial? U G Krishnamurthy, perhaps, the most honest and authentic of all new age gurus and masters, rightly said,'Death is not what religions and 'evolved' souls descant upon it. It's a terminator that terminates your existence in a matter-of-fact manner.'

It's time to talk about death, paling it down to its reality without beating around the bush because it's very easy to speak of death sitting in an ivory tower and deliver a futile philosophical lecture from the pulpit, but extremely difficult to face it. The protagonist of French existentialist Albert Camus' 'The Outsider' sums it up so well in a soliloquy just a few minutes before his execution, ' Though my life has gone in vain and I expect nothing out of it, I still want to live......' Who doesn't want to live?

We're all self-deceivers and armchair philosophers. We're untrue to ourselves. People suffer from 'Ostrich Syndrome' and don't want to face the ultimate reality. Accept the fact that once you die, you die forever. Your death puts a full-stop to your existence. There was no past life and will be no rebirth. That's it. So stop romanticizing death and openly say that you're scared of it. This will be your spiritual honesty.

                                                                              ----Sumit Paul

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