“Fear of death is caused by fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain
What is Thanatophobia – Fear Of Death?
At any time, death is everywhere in the world. Sooner or later, everything dies, and I don’t mean just the living beings. Yesterday died, today a new day is born. Every morning we wake up is like we are born again. Death was never our enemy. Our true enemy is not accepting that everything flows. We have imagined death as the end of our existence. But what if, it is, in fact, a door to a new beginning? We find this belief in ancient texts of many peoples. Therefore, we should be happy when we get in front of this door. If we knew how to live, the idea of death wouldn’t frighten us anymore.
“Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.” – Eckhart Tolle
Fear of death (thanatophobia) is rooted in the fear of the unknown and is part of the human condition that wants to understand the world in which it lives. Religious people, who are given a few points by the Bible, fear they will go to Hell. Of course, that is a nonsense born of ignorance. There are many religions in the world that base their power and control on the naivety of people. That is why the “fear of God” is a more commonly used theme in the speeches of priests than the “love of God”. They know that there is nothing more paralyzing than fear and they speculate it to the maximum, in their own interests.
„The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there’s no risk of accident for someone who’s dead.” – Albert Einstein
There are also people who consult with the stars, to learn when they die. These people are living with the specter of death in their mind, instead of thinking about what they could do for themselves in order to be happier while being alive. I would call those charlatans’ horoscopes who call themselves astrologers, “horror-scopes.”
“Long before you were born into this world, God, in His great generosity, put milk in your mother’s breasts. Who knows, He might create it again after you die, so be optimistic!” – Rabindranath Tagore.
In the modern world, there is a new manifestation, which psychiatrists call “panic attack”. Those who have experienced it describe it as an intense fear of death. Even though they are not suffering from any disease, they cannot think of anything else, having the sensation of imminent death. Physical symptoms include uncontrollable tremors, sweating, palpitations. Trapped in their daily activity, stressed and obsessed to overcome limits, people forget about themselves. Worries and anxiety replace relaxation and introspection and the balance of body and mind is lost.
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man…. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Fear devastates us, both mentally and physically. When talking about the fear of death, I tell those who fear it: always make beautiful plans for the future – near or distant. Mentally, you extend your life. We have all recently learned that thought creates reality so that we might lengthen our life physically as well when thinking this way. I say it’s worth trying this statement for ourselves.
There is nothing wrong to get sick and die. What gave you the idea that you have to live forever? If everyone lived forever, we would overcrowd. A man who dies is honorable in a way because he makes room for others. The idea that all lives should be saved cannot function. And even if our death could be delayed indefinitely, at some point we will realize that this is not the way we want to survive. Otherwise, why would we have children? Because, in fact, we survive through them. It’s as if we would pass on a torch so that we don’t have to carry it all the time. There comes a time when you can drop it and say: Now you take it!
For nature, it’s a lot more entertaining to continue the process of life through new individuals, than same ones, all the time. For every time a child is born, life is renewed. And everyone remembers how fascinating even the most common life experience is for children. They see everything as something wonderful. They see in a way that has nothing to do with survival and profit.
When we come to see everything in terms of survival and profit, the surrounding world ceases to be magical. And once we no longer see the magic around us, we no longer fulfill the nature’s game of being aware of itself. Thus, we are pointless. So we die. And someone else is born, one who will see nature from a completely different perspective. So, nature’s game of being aware of itself is worth playing.
Therefore, it’s not natural to want to prolong our life forever. But we live in a culture where we are inoculated with the idea that dying is a terrible thing. It’s a disease which affects our society. And we see this in the way in which death is hidden under the carpet. It’s one of the major problems in hospitals, where the family complots with the doctor to hide the grandmother the fact that she is dying.
The grandmother suspects, but probably she doesn’t want to know for sure. And the family tells her something like: in a few weeks you will get better and we’ll do this and that. They speak this way because they have a strange belief that it’s important to give her hope. And so grandmother is left to die alone, unprepared and led to believe that chances of dying are minimal. Thus, she is deprived of the spiritual experience of death.
„Nothing is more creative than death since it has the whole secret of life. It means that the past must be abandoned, that the unknown cannot be avoided, that ‘I’ cannot continue, and that nothing can be ultimately fixed. When a man knows this, he lives for the first time in his life. By holding his breath, he loses it. By letting go he finds it.” – Alan Watts.