Death is a finality shared by all things that have life. People view death with fear, or as an escape from worldly suffering or a natural process of renewal of life.
Different religions and cultures have different takes on spiritual enlightenment, but ultimately the meaning of enlightenment is to understand the purpose of our existence, ending with the death.
According to the author of ‘On Death and Dying’, Elizabeth Kubler Ross, death is nothing but a peaceful cessation of the functioning of the body.
A spiritually enlightened person does not fear death but views in different ways based on the philosophy of his/her life.
1. Death helps us realize our mortality
Remembering our death helps one realize the futility of material possessions and bonds. The followers of Buddha are encouraged to dwell on their death to understand the impermanence of life. Once one realizes that life isn’t going to last forever, it keeps one from greed from worldly pleasures. People who fear death try to hide it by immersing themselves in everyday happiness from material objects. People who realize the inevitability of death feel free to focus on spiritual enlightenment. They are often bold enough to go forth and live their dreams because they understand that they have limited time on Earth.
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2. Death is not something to be afraid of
Epicurus stated, “Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.” There is no use in spending our lives fearing death because once we die, we will not experience the pain of death. After we cease to exist, so does our pain and suffering. If one is free from the fear of death, they can live a satisfied and tranquil life. Spiritually enlightened people therefore strive to overcome the fear of death and perceive it as an end to worldly suffering instead.
3. Death is just deep sleep
The way we end every day is with peaceful rest. Similar to that, we end our lives with a longer extension of sleep called death. Overtime we realize that just like a fruitful day brings peaceful rest, likewise a life well spent grants an unperturbed death. Our senses stop functioning every time we sleep; death is just a more permanent version of the same idea.
4. Life is a Trial
According to some philosophies of life after death, our present existence is a preparation for the permanent afterlife. Death, in many religions, is considered to be a passage through which one can be unified with the creator. The acceptance of life after death allows for the acceptance that God is ultimately just and the injustice that happens is as a test for the afterlife.
5. Death is a new beginning
People who believe in rebirth rejoice in death because it is not a disaster and an end, but a beginning through rebirth. Hinduism entails the belief that a man’s destiny is in his own hands and how he chooses to spend his life is responsible for how he will be born in the next life. One can get freedom from this cycle of rebirth by attaining spiritual enlightenment or Moksha. Death therefore is more of a freedom from suffering than a calamity.
6. Death is an assurance of life
Death keeps us humble, when it reminds us despite all our progress that as mortals we are ultimately helpless and vulnerable. Spiritually enlightened people hold up death as strength, when there are parts of life that are uncontrollable. In the rapidly changing world, wise people see death as an unchanging certainty and constant factor of the Universe. People who fear death will fail to live life to its fullest, because death will come knocking at our door eventually.
This incredible artwork was made by Guangjian Huang