So what’s wrong with dying? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? If you ask most of the world if they are afraid of dying, most will say absolutely and then want to quickly move on to a different subject. I have been doing a lot of research as of late on death and dying and near death experiences (NDEs). I suppose, this is a natural curiosity when one is just months away from the big seven-O.
According to the experts, death anxiety is completely normal. Research tells us a profound fear of death escalates in people in their mid twenties and also in middle age. I was surprised to discover that death anxiety in older adulthood is almost non-existent. These are the statistics I found but will this help any of us feel more comfortable about our own inevitable deaths? For me, this was not enough so I have been digging deeper in to the subject.
Years ago, I read a very profound book written by Betty Eadie1 called “Embraced by the Light”. This groundbreaking account of her life-after-death experience was definitely a source of comfort, inspiration and solace to me. I am sure that most people that have had the opportunity, and in some ways the courage, to read a book about death, have had the same experience. Betty not only had an NDE, she actually was pronounced dead and taken to the morgue to be placed alongside of others that had passed.
I have to say however, as I was reading her account of her death story, I was my normal, doubting-Thomas self. Many questions were flying through my head like where’s the proof that any of what I was reading was true? How could it be proven that what Betty experienced as indescribable peace and beauty actually happened? How could I know, if her description of this amazing experience was not just some hallucination in her mind that to her felt very real? And then, the proof of the validity of her story was there.
When Betty came back to her body and before there was any opportunity to talk to anyone about where her family had been, what they did after she died, and even the minute details of what they were wearing, she was able to provide all of these details to the doctors and surrounding people. This combined with the fact that her cancerous tumors dissolved with no medical explanation as to why was enough for me. I knew then, that her story was not just some made-up fictitious account of illusions in her mind.
Eckhart Tolle2 tells a story about what it would be like to live forever and it’s very humorous but also gives one pause for thought. I know I won’t get the numbers right because I don’t remember them exactly, but the story goes something like this.
Two extremely old men were sitting on a bench together discussing life. One of the older gentleman in a very aged voice, turns to the other and says, ” I am 2,325 years old. How old are you?” The other in a very gravelly, almost imperceptible voice, replied, “I am 2,450 years old.” Then laughter erupted from the audience as Eckhart then makes the comment, “Now, that would be hell on earth.” I have often had thoughts similar to this myself.
Who in their right mind would want to live forever even if one could have an immortal life in a young and fit body? Eventually, I believe one would run out of new things to do, feel and experience and then what? Hit rewind and do it all again? Doesn’t sound exciting to me and I know my life would not be what it is, if there wasn’t the knowing that everything and everyone in life is temporary. Knowing that there is an end to this life, definitely makes it all the more precious. It keeps allowing me to experience the different flavours in my life, the yin and yang so to speak. Would beauty still be beauty if we didn’t have the opposite of it to compare it to? Imagine for a moment, if all of us experienced success at everything we put our hands to. Do you think it would feel as fulfilling and rewarding if we never got to feel and experience failure as well?
Take a look at this video which further explains what I am trying to say here. It is because of the fact that we are aware that death is a given, that we can experience so much joy in life.
The Beauty of Death – How to Think About Your Mortality (from Pursuit of Wonder)
So the same with life. There is no way that it could come close to being what it is, if there wasn’t that knowing in the back of our minds that eventually, we will also get to experience death. I don’t think that most of us would have any fear or resistance to death if we could be sure that it was going to be a better experience than we are having as human beings.
So again, I have done my research and I have to say, that when it is my turn, I am almost looking forward to death. There are innumerable accounts of people that have gone to the other side and come back to us to share their stories. In almost every case, the stories are full of indescribable love and beauty and people wanted to stay where they were. But then these people share almost in every case, the same story and that is that they chose to come back to help the rest of us not to be afraid. To help the rest of us to learn how to love ourselves more and how to in turn, make this life an even better experience for others as well as ourselves.
In one case, I found a video called “Stroke of Insight“. It’s about a Neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte Taylor3 who had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: “One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened – as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding – she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.”
In the midst of having this stroke, she realized that she could no longer define the boundaries of her body – she could not define where she began and where she ended because the atoms and molecules of her body blended with the atoms and molecules of the wall she was leaning against. She was immediately captivated by the magnificence of the energy around her. She relates how she felt enormous and expansive and she felt at one with all of the energy. That was how beautiful it was there and she felt a sense of peacefulness. She said that she lost 37 years of emotional baggage – she describes it as nothing less than euphoria! She goes on to further explain that we all have it in our power to make the choice to live in oneness with everything that is. See below for the rest of her mind-blowing experience (pardon the pun).
And since Jill Bolte Taylor is a Neuroanatomist, let’s take a few minutes and look at another brain scientist’s story about his NDE.
In this intimate and powerful re-examination of his best-selling book “Proof of Heaven,” Dr. Eben Alexander4 looks at the two and a half years of his life that he spent in trying to reconcile his rich spiritual experience with contemporary physics and cosmology. He is convinced that his remarkable near-death journey was totally consistent with the leading edges of scientific understanding.
And my last story I want to share with you is a very impressive account of another NDE. Doctors had given Anita Moorjani5 just hours to live when she arrived at the hospital in a coma on the morning of February 2, 2006. Unable to move as a result of the cancer that had ravaged her body for almost 4 years, Anita entered another dimension, where she experienced a great clarity and understanding of her life and purpose here on earth. She was given a choice of whether to return to life or not, and chose to return when she realized that “heaven” is a state and not a place. This subsequently resulted in a remarkable and complete recovery of her health. Watch for yourself and you too will see that according to her experience, there is nothing to be afraid of and when we discover this, anyone of us can live from a place of pure joy.
Eckhart Tolle says, “Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.” The important thing is, all is well. Nothing real dies which is to say ultimately, there is no such thing as death – there only seems to be. According to the book A Course in Miracles, “Nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God“.
In all honesty, it has been my experience, that I can find proof for anything I want to find proof for. So if I was a negative kind of person, I could google and google and find seeming proof that death is a scary thing and that we are going to burn in hell and that we might as well shoot ourselves right now and get it over with. And for sure, this would be a very different kind of article.
But why would I want to prove that any of these things are true for myself or anyone else? And what purpose would that serve in helping me to better enjoy each moment of my existence here and now? Unless any of us actually enjoy suffering, all that really matters is discovering for ourselves, that we do have the power to stop our seemingly endless suffering. I am in charge of what I believe in and no one else. It has been my experience, that when I am asleep, and believe in the chaotic thoughts running through my head, I actually am creating my own suffering. When the end comes, we will deal with it just like we deal with all of our experiences we have in our daily lives. And being afraid of it or worrying about it, does nothing to relieve ourselves of any anxiety about it. You are still here and you have made it this far. So always look for the good in life and you will find it. And yes, look for the good in death and you will find it too!
Dr. Wayne Dyer6 said, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” I do my best to always look at the positive and as a result, other positive things show themselves to me – it’s a win, win.
My primary goal here in writing about the subject of death, is to do my ultimate to help dispel any fear that you may have about what comes at the end of life. It also helps me, to continue my life absent of as much fear as I would have otherwise. Writing about it, reminds me that I have nothing to fear and God knows that I am not the only one that can benefit from reminders of this. Just writing out what is running around in my head helps me to see more clearly and sort out what is actually true for me. It gives me the opportunity to explore what I am unknowingly believing that may be causing me pain. I am then better able to see and understand that I am probably believing in things that I haven’t actually even explored.
This I have said it before and it keeps coming back to me so it bares repeating: I have found that in every case, if my main objective in pursuing anything, or accomplishing anything in life starts out to be helping others, it always without fail, ultimately ends up helping me to be a more loving and wiser being.
No man knows whether death may not even turn out to be the greatest blessing for a human being; and yet people fear it as if they knew for certain that it is the greatest evil.
By becoming aware of our mortality, we intensify our experience of every aspect of life writes author Robert Green8.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to connect with you and also at the same time, improve my own life experience. We can choose to not make death a dreadful thing and we can choose to live a meaningful life and live our lives to their fullest. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Just stay in this miraculous moment of existence – truth be known, it is the best and only place to enjoy our journey to what comes next.
Onward and upward…
- Betty Eadie is a prominent American author of several books on near-death experiences. Her best-known book is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling book Embraced by the Light, describing her near-death experience. It was followed by The Awakening Heart, which was also a best-seller.
- Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and best-selling author. He is a German-born resident of Canada best known as the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. In 2008, The New York Times called Tolle “the most popular spiritual author in the United States”.
- Jill Bolte Taylor (born May 4, 1959) is an American neuroanatomist, author, and inspirational public speaker. Taylor had a stroke — a blood vessel had erupted on the left side of her brain. She had been able to witness her own brain begin to shut down.
- Eben Alexander III (born December 11, 1953) is an American neurosurgeon and author. Alexander is also the author of the 2014 book The Map of Heaven which builds on the claims in his previous book, and coauthor of the 2017 book Living in a Mindful Universe which describes his personal journey since 2008.
- Anita Moorjani (born Anita Shamdasani) (born 16 March 1959) is author of the New York Times bestseller Dying to be Me. After her cancer diagnosis in 2002, Moorjani was taken to a hospital in 2006 where she lay in a coma for 30 hours, during which Moorjani claims to have undergone a Near Death Experience (NDE).
- Dr. Wayne Dyer was an internationally renowned author and speaker in the fields of self-development and spiritual growth. Over the four decades of his career, he wrote more than 40 books, including 21 New York Times bestsellers. He created many audio and video programs, and appeared on thousands of television and radio shows.
- Socrates (469-399 B.C.) was a classical Greek philosopher who is credited with laying the fundamentals of modern Western philosophy. He is known for creating Socratic irony and the Socratic method (elenchus). He has had a profound influence on Western philosophy, along with his students Plato and Aristole.
- Robert Greene is an American author known for his books on strategy, power, and seduction. He has written six international bestsellers: The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, Mastery, and The Laws of Human Nature.