“How morbid!” some of you may be thinking. Actually, it’s not. It’s just the other polarity of Birth – in between there is Life.
Most people think that one only has thoughts of death when they have a close brush with it either through an accident or an extreme illness. Some have death as a mental and emotional companion when they lose someone close to them. There are others who believe thoughts of death never really occupy your mind until you become elderly because that’s when you can sense Death approaching.
While all these may be true, for me, Death has occupied my mind since I was about 13 for no other reason than a wondering of what it feels like to die or be dead. Strange, huh? Maybe for most, but when it comes to “things that go bump in the night” (and Death is just one of those things to me), I have spent most of my life wondering and pondering about them.
When I was in the 8th grade, it all began with some discussion in science class. My mind started to wonder what it was like to be dead. The next thing I knew, I was somewhere out among the stars in the darkness of outer space. Just as quickly, I came back, startled, wondering if the teacher or anyone else had noticed my “absence.” Fortunately, no one had, but this continued throughout my life. If I let my thoughts go to that place of wondering what death was like, I was gone – out of my body I presume – flying among the stars.
What is death, really? The dictionary says it’s, “The permanent cessation of all vital functions in an animal or plant.” Okay, but what does it feel like to die? Many have come to accept that “death” for humans is death of the physical body. A belief in the soul has caused us to believe that we move on to some other place, called by many names depending on your spiritual beliefs. There’s even a saying that pops up a lot on social media that “We are spiritual beings having a physical experience.” That pretty much states that for many of us, death is not the end of our existence.
Okay, then why do so many of us fear Death? It’s the Great Unknown and we fear the unknown in any form. We came from somewhere, into this existence, but we don’t remember anything about what came before we arrived here. Obviously, it’s where we’ll be returning, but because we don’t remember it, we fear what that might mean. How “human” of us.
Some say we experience death a little every time we go to sleep and yet none of us are staying awake for fear of that experience. Perhaps that’s because we know, from our own experience, and the experience of our parents who taught us, we will wake up to this same life after just a short rest.
Those who have studied and practiced astral projection – the conscious or unconscious projection of the astral body to other places and times – have stated that the only difference between astral projection and death is the silver cord that connects us to our physical body. When we astrally project, and some of us do this unconsciously during sleep, there is a silver cord connecting us that allows us to return to our bodies. Sometimes when we believe we are dreaming, we are actually projecting and we begin to dream we are falling, waking up with a start. That’s the silver cord snapping us back into our bodies. In death, that cord is severed and no return to the physical body we occupied is possible.
If this is a taste of Death, then I have died thousands of times, both through sleeping and projecting. Yet, that fear still remains. Why is that? Perhaps it’s the permanence of it all. It’s one thing to experience Death in a small amount, knowing that you’ll return to the body and life you’ve grown so accustomed to, and another to know that there will come a day when you will leave and not be able to return – at least not in this lifetime.
If you hold a belief in reincarnation, being reborn into another life, then there really should be no fear of death. They say the reason we don’t remember anything prior to this lifetime is so that we can have a “fresh” start in this incarnation. In a way, it’s a shame we can’t remember (at least not for sure), it might help make some of the fear of the “unknown” disappear. It might become no more scary than moving to another city and starting over there. So we are left with our fear instead.
There was an episode of “The Twilight Zone”, when it was still in black and white, called “Nothing in the Dark” with a very young Robert Redford playing Death. The story was of an old woman who was the last tenant in her building and they were going to tear the building down. She was sure that the man who came to the door was Death and she wouldn’t let him in. (He was the demolition boss.) She wouldn’t go outside for anything or anyone, sure that Death was going to get her. When a young man was shot just outside her door, pleading for her help, she finally opened the door and took him in, surprised that she hadn’t died. As the story progresses, she does discover that he’s Death and is surprised. He offers her his hand, telling her that her real fear was not of death but of the unknown. She asks when the journey begins and he tells her it already has, as he points to the bed where her physical body lies.
The moral of this story? Death is a transition. We open the door (or veil), that exists between this world and the next, and step through it. Although no one is sure, it seems no more different that opening the door to your house and stepping outside, closing the door behind you. We need not fear it.