DEATH – Vivekananda Quotes

DEATH

This is a matter of considerable interest to me, as I cannot live for ever.

Here are some thoughts from Swami Vivekananda, a great commentator on Hinduism.

  • Be true unto death.
  • Birth is re-composition, death is de-composition.
  • Death comes to all forms of bodies in this and other lives.
  • Death is better than a vegetating ignorant life; it is better to die on the battle-field than to live a life of defeat.
  • Death is but a change.
  • Death is but a change of condition. We remain in the same universe, and are subject to the same laws as before. Those who have passed beyond and have attained high planes of development in beauty and wisdom are but the advance-guard of a universal army who are following after them.

 

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Deathly perspectives

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death.
Death is number two! Does that sound right?
This means to the average person, if you go
to a funeral, you’re better off in the
casket than doing the eulogy.
Jerry Seinfeld

Anderl Heckmair spent his life as a mountaineer and led the first successful ascent of the North Face of the Eiger in 1938. He was told by a fortune teller in the thirties that he would die an unnatural death. ‘Oh no!’ he exclaimed. ‘That means I’ll die in bed.’

At my age, I’m often asked if I’m frightened of death and my reply is always, I can’t remember being frightened of birth.
Peter Ustinov

The annoying thing about being an atheist is
that you’ll never have the satifaction of
saying to believers, ‘I told you so.’
Mark Steel

Immortality: a fate worse than death.
Edgar Shoaff

Comment: I am told that death is inevitable, but it can be late in arriving.

A fear of death

When I was the secretary of a social club for senior citizen retirees, I discovered to my great surprise that many, far too many, members were afraid to die – so they made clear. Why should that be so, I wondered. Did this fear have anything to do with their religion? I then discovered a few Hindus who, too, did everything they could to stay alive during old age. That fear is incomprehensible. Hinduism offers a recycling, a temporary stay in a Way Station, before re-birth: what is there to be afraid of? After all, each re-birth offers a chance of moral self-improvement.

Yet, in this modern nation of mine, if one is not careful, the Hippocratic Oath (now apparently extended in scope to disallow death) may result in my being confined to a life of non-existence while I remain alive. What sort of medical practitioner would prolong life for no good purpose?

Like many aged senior citizens in my community, I hold an Advanced Health Care Directive. This has been copied to the 2 local hospitals and to my GP. This is a legal document, signed in sound mind, which should prevent any unwarranted resuscitation or surgery of a patient. Otherwise the profit motive or a religious persuasion could intervene. Who or what decides what is unwarranted? Compassion for a fellow human being, while being observed by God!

Yet, a few years ago, the head of an industrial union of medicos in one of Australia’s states sought a federal Parliamentary right for medicos to over-ride an AHCD. That was denied. Recently, the CEO of a religious hospital in a capital city was quoted as saying that he was not in favour of AHCDs (that is how I read the news report). Fearing that my AHCD might be ignored were I to be despatched by ambulance to his hospital (because I live in a small village, with a nearby hospital of a limited specialist capability), I have written to my parliamentary representative to obtain official clarification as to the security of my legal right.

Should a Western non-sectarian democracy permit a legal right to be overturned by a religious preference?

An octogenarian’s whimsy

When one has gone past one’s (statistical) use-by date, one is entitled to ponder about such questions as: What happens when I die? Do I (as spirit) go anywhere at all? If I do not, what then happens to my spirit (surely I have one)? If I do go somewhere, will it be a permanent move? If so, will it be one of heavenly bliss? If so, what will that be like? (A stupid question really – heavenly bliss must surely be richer than ordinary bliss.) What then? How many souls or spirits can this place accommodate? Where is it anyway? Will I see the sun rise there, as I do now (if I wake up early enough, and look out of my window)? If all of us are going to enjoy heavenly bliss, what’s the point of Earthly suffering? Or, living a moral life? So, what (if any) is the point of Earthly existence?

Then, there is the other side of the coin, the unbuttered side of a slice of bread. What if we just live and die, like the insects, the birds which eat them, and the animals? I am not sure if the animals are as useful as the insects, because they only eat one another, or some of us. Yes, yes, I am aware of the pleasure we receive from looking at some of them, and even cuddling some of them.

If we humans are the highest form of animal life, especially if we are the chosen species, should there not be a reason for our existence, and our special position? If there is such a reason, does this mean (logically) that not all of us will qualify for heavenly bliss? At a moral level, we are significantly divergent from one another. Is this why so many of the elderly (sorry, senior citizens) whom I have met are afraid to die? Regrettably, that is true. Even some regular churchgoers say that they are not sure what death means for them! What a terrible situation for these people to be in.

As a metaphysical Hindu, I do believe that I will be going to a Way-station or R&R depot or a temporary place of learning, to be ready for the next inning of a very long game. It is only a belief, and thereby cannot be proven or disproven! Certain psychic experiences I had have strengthened this belief. However, I do not claim to know. As a speculative philosopher and fearless in my search, I am looking forward to whatever happens.