Saturday, December 04, 2010

Fear of Death

(originally written 01/20/10)


Fear of Death
Thích Quang Ðu'c
Saigon,
June 11, 1963


Tao Te Ching
#74

If men are not afraid to die,
It is of no avail to threaten them with death.

If men live in constant fear of dying,
And if breaking the law means that a man will be killed,
Who will dare break the law?

There is always an official executioner.
If you try to take his place,
it is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood.
If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter,
you will only hurt your hand.
-Lao Tzu-


To not be afraid to die is a rarity in this world today. Yet, we are long acquainted with this notion in western thought -- since the days of Epicurus (341-270 BCE). "Death is nothing to us," said Epicurus. "I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind", is written on many ancient tombstones -- followers of the Epicurean philosophy. What happened to bring about in us such a fear of death? Oh yes, the notion of eternal heaven and eternal hell. As a more recent philosopher sung: "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky, imagine all the people, living for today." That was John Lennon, of course. We know the words, but how many know the feeling . . . and live it?

To be afraid to die is a terrible existence. One cannot live if one fears the experience -- and death is part of the experience. It did not hurt before we were born, and it will not hurt after we die. It only hurts while we are alive. Fearing death is actually fearing life -- it's one of those paradoxes that are, above all, True.

When one is afraid to die one will suffer any abomination, including letting evil people lead them. When one is afraid to die one will suffer atrocious laws, including putting innocent people to death. When one is afraid to die one will suffer any ignorance, including letting the world die around them. Governments control by fear. It wasn't supposed to be like that in these United States, but the Grand Experiment has failed. The country called America is simply another culture doomed to rot from the inside, like so many others, because the people fear the government. Why fear the government? Because the government can execute you for breaking one of its laws . . . and you never know what's going to be against the law tomorrow. So, if you fear death, you fear the executioner, and thus you fear the government who controls the executioner. If you do not fear death . . . the government has no hold on you, and the government is afraid of you. Hmm . . . could be why few people outside chefs have been taught of Epicurus. And it could be an Epicurean Underground that made the movie: "Who's Killing All The Great Chefs of Europe" (j/k)

The "official executioner" is Death, The Grim Reaper. So the last part is a warning to those governments which will try to control their people through fear of death -- they will only hurt their hand . . . rot from the inside and die. The death penalty is a symptom of a sick society.

2 comments:

Jane Sawicki ND said...

Ed thankyou for this, for your whole blog...what awesome insights and words to reflect on! :)

OnlyEd said...

Thank you, Jane. Your blog is a bold and vibrant exultation of life! Thank you for that, as well.