In an essay of self-reflection and spiritual analysis, Abhishek Sareen discusses how we perceive death, how that affects the way we live our lives and what could be done differently.
I have been planning to read books on death, however it’s better to dwell on one’s own thoughts before I make someone else’s thoughts my own. We dread death because we think we may not have achieved or experienced enough. No matter what all we get in life, there will always be something that we would wish we’d done more or differently.
We are in a generation where ideas like “one life” and YOLO (You only live once) are being propagated. These ideas preach that we should be experiencing life as much as possible. These concepts are being propagated more by marketers so that we consume more materialistic experiences. In a way it’s very easy to sell this concept, as we believe death is the end, and we better consume as much as possible.
Hinduism and Buddhism preach the concept of rebirth. We know this, but very few of us believe in it. According to Buddhism, a human life should not be treated as a book, but just as page in a book. Hinduism says your life’s Karma is carried forward to your next birth.
What they are truly preaching is you don’t need to consume and how to experience everything in one life. There’s always a next one. We don’t need to be desperate or sad if you have not done anything noteworthy. It’s okay to be average or below average.
Death is Inevitable: But is it Everlasting?
Death is something that will eventually come to us. It may come tomorrow, in the next hour or it may stretch till our nineties. We often hear quotes like, “Live life like it’s the first day of rest of your life”, or “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”. However, such ideas just make one feel insecure that they haven’t done or experienced enough in life. How can one feel content or happy if such ideas are being preached?
Death is inevitable, but all living beings have an inner desire to live forever. All our actions are intended towards it, and that’s the reason we chase glory, have kids, try become famous or at least imprint our ideas in other people’s memories so that we can live in their thoughts, which is the next best thing to being immortal. This idea of achieving immortality is so deeply embedded within our subconscious that all our actions are governed by it.
Yes, death also brings about separation with your loved ones, but somehow we don’t appreciate this fact when they are close to us. Only when we realize we closer to our end, do we realize their importance. The point I am trying to make is that one needs to be conscious that death will eventually come to us, but we should not be desperate about the limited time we have in our hands. It would be easier if we could visualize that our end is inevitable and what we have experienced so far has been just a small phase of it. It’s up to us to feel whether the experience was good, bad, or satisfactory.
In today’s highly information overloaded society, we seek social affirmation to rate our life experience, and this is the cause of consumerism. So one needs to be their own judge. Tell yourself, “It’s my life, and it’s just a small blip, and I will be back again on this stage in a new costume.”
Hell and Heaven
The concept of going to hell or heaven after death is one of the most propagated ideas in most popular religions in the world. Some go there early, some go in their mid-life and some late. It’s our deeds and god’s judgment that decide who goes where. That’s the only way of keeping the social fabric of our society in check.
Death is inevitable, one needs to embrace it with open arms. However, it’s easier said than done. If we would have been so casual about death, we wouldn’t have thrived on this planet like we do.
The closest that I have felt to death was when I did a bungee jump. That eight second free fall was the scariest moment of my life, but it made me consciously reflect that my life will end one day, so better start accepting the fact.
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Abhishek Sareen is a marketing professional with over 16 years of experience. He started his career as a management consultant and currently works in international business. He has set up businesses like Track & Trail, BrooksBicycles.com and created consumer brands like Montra, Machcity and Roadeo. He’s is a passionate cyclist and participated in several endurance competitive events like MTB Himalaya. His interests are in behavioral psychology, economics and chess. He is a graduate in Computer Science and an MBA in Marketing. He completed his executive education from IIM-A in 2016 focusing on business strategy.