What is death? Why are all people more or less afraid of death? The fear of the unknown is a strong fear. As it will be? Will I suffer? What will happen after death? All these specific questions require specific answers.
First, let's try to figure out why almost every person has a fear of death. If we consider this issue more broadly, then we will certainly come to the conclusion that such fear is directly related to the instinct of self-preservation. Any living creature will be reluctant to part with its physical shell. Attachment to your body arises with the birth of this body. This attachment is inherent in Consciousness by nature itself.
The instinct of self-preservation, which means the fear of death, helps to preserve life. In other words, the fear of death is a natural feeling that is necessary for life. Life is an invaluable gift, and to preserve it, we are given the fear of death along with life. It's quite normal.
It's another matter when the fear of death is stronger than it deserves, if it becomes panicky. Then, in death, a person sees something unknown, dangerous and inevitable to an exceptional degree. For the most part, however, our fears stem from ignorance. And the most powerful cure for ignorance is knowledge. Everything that we managed to understand and explain becomes no longer scary. In time immemorial, man was terrified of thunder and lightning. However, later people were able to explain the reason for these natural phenomena and the panic disappeared.
The main cause of the fear of death is the identification of people with their own body. Thinking about the meaning of life, a person will certainly come to the question: "Who am I in reality?" And not really thinking about the answer, the person decides that he is his physical body. Or decides that the body is primary and the Soul is secondary. "I am Russian. I am builder. I'm a Christian. I am the father of a family”- these are typical examples of such identification with the body.
It becomes quite clear that, having come to such conclusions, a person begins to take care of the needs of his body to an exceptional degree. Although, if you think a little about the needs of the body, you can understand that in reality our body needs very little. However, people identify themselves and their consciousness with their own mortal physical body. And the time comes when a person is no longer aware of himself without this body. Now his body needs air, food, sleep, pleasure, entertainment, etc. all the time.
A person turns into a servant of his body. It is not the body that serves the person, but the person begins to serve his body. And when human life comes to an end, the fear of death takes over him entirely. He convulsively begins to cling to his frail body, thinking that with the disappearance of the body, the person himself will disappear, his Consciousness and Personality will disappear.
The pattern is straight forward. The more we begin to attach to our body, the more we begin to fear death. The less we identify with the physical body - the easier we will think about the inevitability of death. In fact, we fear death more than it deserves.
What else are we afraid of? First of all, the fact that - death is inevitable. Yes it is. But we should not forget that only our physical body, our temporary bodily suit, dies.
Imagine a situation where you bought a new suit from a store. You liked the style, the color is what you wanted, the price is reasonable. Already at home, you demonstrated the costume to your loved ones and they also really like it. In this suit you go to work every day. And after a year you notice that the suit is a little worn out, but it may still serve you well. A year later, the suit worn out even more. However, it has become so dear to you that you are ready to spend a lot of money on repairs and dry cleaning. You don't even think about buying a new suit. You are practically one with your old suit.
You carefully store it in the closet, clean it, iron it in a timely manner, do not react to the surprised looks of your family and colleagues, but only avert your eyes. More and more often you are haunted by the thought that sooner or later you will have to part with this suit. This thought robs you of peace and sleep, you are close to a breakdown. You say: “This does not happen! This is sheer absurdity! " Of course, this is unlikely to happen to a normal person. However, this is how most people relate to their bodies, to their temporary costume!
There is not so much to understand in this case - our temporary suit will sooner or later become unusable. But in return we get a new suit, a new body. And it may well be that this body will be even better than the previous one. So is it worth it to be sad?
Also, a person is afraid of the unknown. "What will happen to me then?" Often we think that after death we will absolutely disappear. As mentioned, the best cure for fear and uncertainty is knowledge. The knowledge that life continues after death. It takes on new forms, but this is the same conscious life as earthly life.
There is another reason for the fear of death. For some people, especially those who identify themselves as atheists, this reason may seem irrelevant. For many years, over many centuries, people have been called to order with the help of threats and punishments, promising them long torment in hell. The fear of hell is one of the reasons for disbelief in the continuation of life after death. Who would want to believe in life after death, if this future can only bring us suffering? Nowadays, no one intimidates anyone, but the fear that has lodged in the subconscious for many generations is not so easy to eradicate.
What else scares a person before death? The feeling of painfulness of the forthcoming transition is terrifying, we think that death is a prolonged suffering, a very painful sensation. The thought may even creep into my head: "If I die, then I would like it to happen immediately or in a dream, so as not to suffer."
In fact, the transition itself occurs almost instantly. Consciousness turns off for a short time. Pain symptoms continue only until the very moment of transition. Dying itself is painless. After the transition, all symptoms of the disease, physical disabilities disappear. The human personality, having crossed the threshold of the physical world, continues to live in new conditions of existence.
But if we could not get rid of fear, then this fear will remain, because after the transition, Consciousness is not lost and the Personality does not disappear. Usually, we see in death an enemy who wants to take our life. We cannot fight this enemy and we try to drive away thoughts about him. But death, because not to think about it, will not disappear. The fear of death will not only not disappear, but will go even deeper, into the subconscious. There, without awareness, he will be even more dangerous and harmful.
Suppose a person died while sleeping and had no near-death experiences. After the transition, a person will see himself in a different environment, but all his thoughts and feelings, which he could not get rid of, will remain. What was in our consciousness and subconsciousness before the moment of death does not disappear anywhere. A person only loses the ability to control his no longer needed physical body. All his thoughts, experiences, fears remain with him.
Wanting to leave life in a dream or in another unconscious state, we lose a lot, we lose the entire period of growth of the Soul.
Let's look at this problem from a philosophical and religious point of view. It doesn't matter if we consider ourselves to be believers or not. At least in our souls we are all philosophers.
We live in the material world not only in order to receive pleasure and take everything from life. The Lord, of course, does not mind people enjoying life, and gave them everything they need for this. But the Lord also gave each of us a certain life task that corresponds to our strengths and abilities. We are born in this world for a reason. Our task is to do something that is part of the Lord's Plan, to fulfill our purpose.
More specifically, during our stay on the earthly plane, we need to develop the highest abilities - the ability to Love and Believe. We also have to go through energetic cleansing - to cleanse our Soul from the dirt that has been accumulated over the period of our entire existence, to work out karmic problems with other people, that is, to become better and cleaner.
First, we need to find out our purpose, and then fulfill it. This is also said in the parable of Jesus Christ about talents, where the master at the end of the centuries asks the slaves how they used the time and talents given to them (Gospel of Matthew 25: 14-30):
… For He will act like a man who, going to a foreign country, called his servants and entrusted them with his property:
And to one he gave 5 talents, to another 2, to the third 1, each according to his strength; and immediately departed.
The one who received 5 talents went, put them into business and acquired another 5 talents;
in the same way, he who received two talents acquired other two;
The one who received 1 talent went and buried it in the ground and hid the silver of his master.
After a long time, the master of those slaves returned and demanded an account from them.
And, coming up, the one who had received 5 talents brought other 5 talents and said: "Lord" 5 talents you gave me; behold, I have acquired 5 other talents with them."
His master said to him: “Well, good and faithful slave! In small things you were faithful, I will put you over many; enter into the joy of your master."
Also, the one who had received 2 talents came up and said: “Master! You gave me two talents; behold, I have acquired two other talents with them."
His master said to him: “Well, good and faithful slave! In small things you were faithful, I will put you over many; enter into the joy of your master."
And the one who received 1 talent came up and said: “Master! I knew you, that you are a cruel man, you reap where you did not sow, and gather where you did not scatter, and fearing, I went and hid your talent in the earth; here's yours."
His master answered him: “Wicked and lazy slave! You knew that I reap where I did not sow, and reap where I did not scatter; therefore you had to give my silver to the merchants, and when I came, I would receive mine at a profit; So, take the talent from him and give to him who has 10 talents, for to everyone who has it will be given and will increase, but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away; but cast out the worthless servant into the outer darkness: there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. " Having said this, he cried out: He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Now you yourself can come to a conclusion, why are we still afraid of death? The conclusion is simple. In the depths of our subconscious, a specific task is formed - the fulfillment of a specific purpose. If we have not yet fulfilled this mission, have not fulfilled our program of being in the physical world, this will bother us at the subconscious level. And this anxiety, penetrating the level of consciousness, will evoke specific fears in us.
That is, on the one hand, this fear reminds us of an unfulfilled destination. On the other hand, such fear, expressed in the instinct of self-preservation, makes us take care of our lives. And vice versa. People whose earthly life has been spent in constant labor and for the benefit of others often feel that they have fulfilled their destiny. When the time comes to die, they have no fear of death.
Perhaps the Hegumen of Mount Sinai spoke about this in the "Ladder"?
"The fear of death is a property of human nature … and the thrill of the memory of a mortal is a sign of unrepentant sins …"
Also, one of the Orthodox saints wrote:
“It would be strange if at this time there were no fear of the unknown future, there would be no fear of God. The fear of God will be, it is beneficial and necessary. It helps to cleanse the soul preparing to leave the body."
Individuals may develop exactly the opposite attitude towards death. People who live according to the principle "after us - even a flood." Why think about death at all, if you can enjoy well already in this life? Someday I will die. And so what? We will all die sooner or later. Why think bad? Let's enjoy life now without thinking about the consequences.
There is another extreme. In 1980, Archimandrite Seraphim Rose published a book in English "The Soul After Death". He wrote that the testimonies of people who have experienced the temporary death of the body often paint a wrong and dangerous picture. There is too much light in it. One gets the impression that one should not be afraid of death. Death is, rather, a pleasant experience, and after death nothing bad threatens the soul. God does not blame anyone and surrounds everyone with love. Repentance and even thoughts about it are superfluous.
Father Seraphim wrote:
“Today's world is spoiled and does not want to hear about the reality of the spirit and responsibility for sins. It is much nicer to think that God is not very strict and that we are safe under a loving God who will not demand an answer. Better to feel that salvation is assured. In our age, we expect something pleasant and often see what we expect. But the reality is different. The hour of death is a time of devilish temptation. The destiny of a person in eternity depends mainly on how she herself looks at her death and how she prepares for it”.
In principle, it is not bad when we do not dwell on our future, because everything is in the hands of the Lord. You need to live here and now. Live and be aware of every minute of your existence. If these are pleasant moments, then we should share our joy with others. If these are sad moments, then this can push us to understand the meaning of life.
However, in any case, no matter how we relate to our earthly life, our purpose remains. Whether we take from life all or more of this life and give to other people - this purpose does not disappear anywhere. Accordingly, the task becomes a little more complicated - all the time we must remember our purpose and we must use every minute to fulfill it. And this, you must admit, does not fit with the principles "After us - even a flood" and "Take everything from life."
Many people may object to us: “We are happy and satisfied with life now. We have everything - a good job, a good family, successful children and grandchildren. Why should we think about some mythical future”? We do not deny that there are many really wonderful, kind and sympathetic people on Earth who, by their qualities, deserve such a happy life.
However, there is another option. It was in their past earthly life that these people were kind and sympathetic. And they were able to develop a certain Spiritual potential. And in this life, they do not gain this potential, but simply waste it. In fact, everything is good with them in this life. But the potential is rapidly dwindling. And in later life they may have to start all over again.
Of course, you can not believe in all this. And this is a separate topic for conversation. Therefore, we invite the reader to simply think about this question. In principle, all people have almost equal opportunities. A person is born, goes first to kindergarten, then to school. And here people's paths diverge. Some go to college, others go to the army, some go to work, some have a family, etc. That is, everyone follows their own path: someone is growing, someone is falling, someone is happy, and someone is not. That is, everyone seems to have the same opportunities after leaving school, and as a result, in 5-10 years the gap between people can be simply huge.
There may be objections: "It's not only about the possibilities, but also about the abilities." And this is what we suggested thinking about. Where did a person get his abilities and capabilities? Why is someone born a genius, while someone is not even able to finish school? Why is one person born into a wealthy family, while someone is born sick or into a family with one parent? Why was such an injustice inherent in the first place?
Who is running this? Lord or man himself?
You may ask: "It turns out that a person needs the fear of death?" But you yourself can already answer this question. Needed, but only as an instinct for self-preservation. And nothing more. To get rid of the fear of death, in fact, not much is needed - only knowledge. Knowing why we are on Earth and knowing that this earthly life is only part of one big life of ours.
O. Kazatsky, M. Yeritsyan