Transcendence: Death

Thanatology is the study of death and of dying. Death and dying are intimately connected to transition, transformation, and transcendence. I first spoke about death as being one of the Triune Mysteries (the other two are creation and life). Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a leader in the field of thanatology and stated that, “in our unconscious death is never possible in regards to ourselves. It is inconceivable for our unconscious to imagine an actual ending of our life here on earth.” (1978) I know we humans are cursed with the knowledge that we will die. Yet, paradoxically at the personal level I argue that having a solipsistic view of the Self will not allow the Self to die. You may die, but I won’t die!  We can imagine the death of others, but not our own death. Viorst felt, “we are scared of annihilation and non-being. We are scared of the unknown.” (1986) Our modern world has a real necrophobia and a real anxiety related to death. Kubler-Ross pointed out that, “we make the dead look as if they were asleep.” (1978) Western societies have especially developed an illusive culture fantasizing a life that goes on forever. Ironic, even those God-fearing individuals I have known over the years have an irrational fear (maybe phobia) and a fixation about death. I have never met even one person who is in a rush to die. Even those super-religious addicts who say they are bound for Heaven want to take their time to get there. Most of man-made religions initial beginnings come from this fear of death. Our fear of odious death appears to be related to: 1.) the process of dying (I fear having a painful death), 2.) my nonexistence (eradication of the Self), 3.) the loss of loved ones (people we will see no more), 4.) the fear of the unknown, and 5.) the fear of punishment (this must be a scary proposition for those believing in an avenging Hell).


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