"Lets talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs."
"Oh Well, no matter what happens, there's always death."
"He that lives to forever, never fears dying."
"This is the glory of earth-born men and women,
not to cringe, never to yield, but standing,
take defeat implacable and defiant,
"the American farm-house funeral is surely, of all the observances with which civilized man mark the end of this earthly pilgrimage, the most pathetic. The rural life itself is a sad and sterile enough thing, with its unrelieved physical strain, its enervating and destructive diet, its mental barrenness, its sternly narrowed groove of toil and thought and companionship-but death at the farm brings a desolating gloom, a cruel sense of the hopelessness of existence, which one realizes nowhere else."
"My friend whom I loved so dear,
Who with me went through every danger,
The doom of mortals overtook him
Six days I wept for him and seven nights.
I did not surrender his body for burial
Until a maggot dropped from his nostril.
Then I was afraid that I too would die,
I grew fearful of death, and so wander the wild.
What became of my friend was too much to bear.
So on a far path I wander the wild.
How can I keep silent? How can I stay quiet?
My friend, whom I loved, has turned to clay.
Shall I not be like him, and also lie down.
Never to rise again, through all eternity?"
-Epic of Gilgamesh
"Timor mortis conturbat me-the thought of dying scares me to death!
-William Dunbar (1465-?1530)
"Go to the bathroom mirror, look yourself in the mirror and say, "You're dying." It's not easy."
-Dr. Nicholas Christakis
"It is a brave act of valour to contemn death; but where life is more terrible than death, it is then the truest valour to dare to live."
-Sir Thomas Browne
"One of the greatest blessings of virtue is the contempt of death....he who has learned how to die has unlearned how to serve...To be ready to die frees us from all bondage, and thralldom."
"He who would teach men to die would at the same time teach them to live."
"I tell you: one must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: ye have still chaos in you."
Friedrich Nietzsche "A little poison at last for a pleasant death"
"If Gottlieb is correct that the clock is the symbol of death, then we all carry on our wrists constant little "death reminders" our watches. We wear a watch with no conscious regard for the name we give it. yet it is well named, and regretfully so. Using it, we watch . We watch time, we are fixated on it. It can even be said that most of us are dominated by it. We do few things as well as we watch time. Once you think bout it, there seems to be something sinister going on. Constantly watching, always watching, it is we who are in the service of time-we, biological clocks ourselves with our internal rhythms and cycles, constantly witnessing our own death, continuing to watch, watch, watch."
Larry Dossey M.D.
Space, Time & Medicine
"The primary source of our fears, and of all evil and meanness afflicting the human spirit, has been acknowledged and publicly identified. It was death all the time, and nothing else."
"Often for fear of death men are seized by a hatred of life, forgetting that this fear is the fountain of all care."
-Lucretius Roman Poet 99-55 B.C
"Death is nothing more than a migration of the soul from this place to another."
"Do you see, oh my brothers and sisters, it is not chaos and death. it is form and union and plan. It is eternal life. it is happiness."
"What happens after death is so unspeakably glorious that our imaginations and our feelings do not suffice to form even an approximate conception of it."
-C.G. Jung (after his 1944 heart attack)
"Don't be afraid your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin."
"Everything is alive; what we call dead is an abstraction."
"Death is nothing to us: for that which is dissolved is without sensation; and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us."
"Last month, my friend Beth died. This week, Holly died. And someday....but I don't want to think about that. You don't either.
And yet every spiritual tradition advises the same: keep the though of death near. don't run from it. Embrace the knowledge of your own death early in life, and you will avoid many illusions. The ego grows bloated by the denial of death; the spirit grows strong and gentle living in its presence. (Notwithstanding the value of meditating on our death, I think the Sharper Image's "personal Life clock"-$99.95, with a ninety-day warranty-that "reminds you to live life to the fullest by displaying the time and actual hours, minutes, and seconds remaining in your statistical lifetime") goes too far in the right direction."
hymns to an Unknown God
"There is now a deep stirring in our consciousness as a culture about death. Thanatology is a respected area of study. "Death and dying" are popular subjects notionally among the laity but among medical professionals as well. in medical schools students are given lecture series on how to deal with dying patients by clergy and psychiatrists alike. "personal growth centers" have resident professionals who share their wisdom about death. Death education is a central theme of several journals that have only recently appeared. it has become culturally acceptable to scrutinize death as never before. Once considered only a priestly function, we now recognize that persons with diverse points of view can contribute to our collective knowledge about death.
But almost without exception these approaches merely pour new wine into old bottles, for they are stuck in a world view whose attitude toward time is archaic. No current thanatologic endeavor can yield fruitful results without accepting what is at the same time the most marvelous and astonishing discovery of our era: time is not a river."
Larry Dossey, M.D.
Space, Time & Medicine
"Then (in death) the soul undergoes an experience like that of those receiving initiation into the great Mysteries. Wherefore the correspondence of word to word and act to act in dying and being initiated. First of all, wanderings and painful tortuous ways, and certain uneasy and endless courses in the dark; then, before the end, all the frightful things, fears, terrors, sweat and stupor. After which a certain marvelous light confronts it, and pure places and meadows receive it, with voices and choral dances and the most august solemnities of sacred sounds and holy sights. Amid this the man, perfect now and initiated, becomes free and goes round, liberated and crowned, performing the rites; he consorts with holy and pure men, beholding here the uninitiated crowd of the living uncleansed and trodden under by himself in much mud and darkness, and through fear of death, persisting in their evil in disbelief of the bliss of yonder world."
from a fragment of Themistios (Plutarch?) which compares death with initiation
"No one should fear death. I know, because I have come face to face with death several times. it is really a pleasant experience. You seem to hear beautiful music and everything is mellow and sweet and serene-no struggle, no terror, just calmness and beauty. when death comes, you will find it to be one of the easiest and most blissful experiences you have ever had."
"The mystical techniques for achieving immortality are revealed only to those who have dissolved all ties to the gross worldly realm of duality, conflict, and dogma."
"It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth-and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up-that we will begin to live each day to the to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had."
"....Dying is a matter of slapstick and prat-falls. The ageing process is not gradual or gentle. it rushes up, pushes you over and runs off laughing. No one should grow old who isn't ready to appear ridiculous."
-John Mortimer The Summer of a Dormouse
"I do not want to die-no; I neither want to die nor do I want to want to die; I want to live for ever and ever and ever."
-Miguel de Unamuno Tragic Sense of Life
"Death is an imposition on the human race and no longer acceptable."
"Not to be everything and not be it forever is the same as not being at all. At least let me be altogether myself and be so forever....Whatever is not eternal is also not real....It is the frenzied love of life, the love that would have life be unending, which most often leads us to long for death. "If I am to altogether annihilated,' we say to ourselves. 'the world is finished for me, it is over."
-Miguel de Unamuno
"Rehearse death. To say this is to tell a person to rehearse his freedom. A person who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave."
-Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
"Life is so fragile, no more than a bubble blown to and fro by the wind. How astonishing to think that after an out-breath there will be an in-breath, or that we will awaken after a night's sleep."
"Mystery makes itself known when we begin to include death in our lives. it is as if a veil were lifted, allowing us to see clearly. death is the way it has always been, we have just refused to acknowledge it. when we are able to see things as they are, we begin to tap our intuitive sense of the mysterious, and joy and appreciation grow. This process builds upon itself as we discover all the ways we hide from life."
Lessons from the Dying
"Life is pleasant,. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome."
"It is one of the most remarkable things that in all of the biological sciences there is no clue as to the necessity of death. If you say we want to make perpetual motion, we have discovered enough laws as we studied physics to see that it is either absolutely impossible or else the laws are wrong. But there is nothing in biology yet found that indicates the inevitability of death. This suggests to me that it is not at all inevitable and that it is only a matter of time before the biologists discover what it is that is causing us the trouble and that this terrible universal disease or temporariness of the human's body will be cured."
"Immortality first! Everything else can wait."
"Why fear death? It is the most beautiful adventure in life."
"John Quincy Adams is well but the house in which he lives at the present time is becoming dilapidated. It's tottering on its foundations. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it. Its roof is pretty worn out. Its walls are much shattered and tremble with every wind. I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon. But he himself is quite well, quite well."
-John Quincy Adams
"Which will be the greater spectacle of our existence: life or death?"
"The perpetual work of your life is but to lay the foundation of death."
-Michel De Montaigne
"While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die."
-Leonardo Da Vinci
"Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing to do with it."
-W. Somerset Maugham
"There is no such thing as a natural death: nothing that happens to a man is ever natural, since his presence calls the world into question....All men must die but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation."
-Simone De Beauvoir
"Here lies a man who loved life from beginning to end, and he's sorry that the goddamn thing is over."
-Ray Bradbury (The Sacramento Bee asked Bradbury, who is 86, what he'd like as an epitaph)
"To die will be an awfully big adventure."
-J. M. Barrie
"There are, aren't there, only three things we can do about death: to desire it, to fear it, or to ignore it."
"Man dies when he wants, as he wants, of what he chooses."
Sir Walter Raleigh standing on the scaffold, about to die proclaimed, "This is a sharp medicine, but a sure remedy for all evils."
"Death is like an arrow that is already in flight, and your life lasts only until it reaches you."
"Death....It's the only thing we haven't succeeded in completely vulgarizing."
"Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment."
"To die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier"
"Never that which is shall die."
"Life has flown and left no trace.
My soul was in a fever-to go where?"
-Fet (Fet is a pseudonym for the Russian poet A.A. Shensin (1820-1892)
"When death comes to find you, may it find you alive."
"Our repugnance to death increases in proportion to our consciousness of having lived in vain."
'On the Love of Life' 1815
"The first sign of love to God is not to be afraid of death, and to be always waiting for it. For death unites the friend to his friend-the seeker to the object which he seeks."
"Inside and outside my body I see clear cold steams beside the flowers, and after I die, the corpse will find its way back to those and the soft air around them. Our soul-seeds come from the invisible , and here we are still growing. We fade and go to seed. We die. New seeds slip into the ground of the unseen, each to grow its own unique lineage beside the water. God provides this continuing."
-Bahauddin (The Father of Rumi)
The Drowned Book by Coleman Barks & John Moyne
"Everyone must have an aim, If you have not an aim, you are not a man. I will tell you a very simple aim, to die an honorable death. Everyone can take this aim without any philosophizing-not to die like a dog."
"Who knows but life be that which men call death, and death what men call life?"
"Like a fish that is thrown on dry land, taken from his home in the waters, the mind strives and struggles to get free from the power of Death."
The Dhammapada (3rd century
"A philosophical contempt of life is no guarantee of courage in the face of death."
"Higher thought originates as meditation upon death. Every religion, every scientific investigation, every philosophy, proceeds from it. Every great symbolism attaches its form-language to the cult of the dead, the forms of disposal of the dead, the adornment of the graves of the dead."
"A bearer of news of death appears to himself as very important. His feeling-even against all reason- makes him a messenger from the realm of the dead."
One-Way Street, 1925
"Every old man knows that he will die soon. But what does knowing mean in his case?....The truth of the matter is that the idea of death's coming closer is mistaken. Death is neither near nor far.....It is not correct to speak of a relationship with death: the fact is that the old man, like all other men, has a relationship with life and with nothing else."
-Simone De Beauvoir
"But you do not die of being sick, you die of being alive. Death kills you well enough without the help of illness. And illnesses have put off death for some, who have lived longer for thinking that they were on their way out and dying."
"For certain is death for the born
And certain is birth for the dead;
Therefore over the inevitable
Thou shouldst not grieve."
"Asking oneself what it means to die, what death is, is not a neurotic question: on the contrary, it shows that one is very healthy, sane and balanced, otherwise one wouldn't ask that question. It means that one is no longer frightened to find out. Obviously the body goes, the organism collapses through constant wear and tear. It can be made to last a little longer if one lives fairly sanely, without too much pressure, strain or excitement. Or the doctors and the scientists may invent a pill or something that will give you another forty or fifty years-although I do not see the point of living another fifty years in this trap. In asking what dying is, one must also ask what it means to actually live-if one can so live-without all that travail: that is, to end the way of living as we know it. Because that is what is going to happen when one dies: the end of everything. "
"If you do not know how to die, never mind. Nature will give you full and adequate instruction on the spot. She will do this job for you neatly; do not worry yourself with the thought."
Michel De Montaigne
"When death finally comes you will welcome it like an old friend, being aware of how dreamlike and impermanent the phenomenal world really is."
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
"Death is not a shadow, it is our guide."
"We die, and we do not die."
"When human organisms are declared dead, all the physical chemistry misidentified by scientists as constituting the prime ingredients of human life are as yet present, ergo, those who speak of 'the chemistry of life' are, unwittingly, self-misinforming. Life is not physical. Life is indestructible, immortal, eternal. Life is only weightlessly and omni-invisible present."
R. Buckminster Fuller
Tetrascroll: Goldilocks and the Three Bears: A Cosmic Fairy tale
"He who most resembles the dead is the most reluctant to die."
Jean de la Fontaine
"A free man thinks of nothing less that of death, and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life."
"Awareness of death is the very bedrock of the path. Until you have developed this awareness, all other practices are obstructed."
"Death is obscene, unmentionable, pornographic: if sex was nasty, death is a nasty mistake."
-Rollo May Love and Will
"Death is only an experience which you are meant to learn a great lesson: you cannot die."
"Come lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving.
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate death
Prais�d be the fathomless Universe.
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious.
And for love, sweet love-but praise! Praise! Praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death."
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom�D
"When death, the great reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity."
"I hate people who say they have no fear of death. They are liars, and fools, and hypocrites."
Thomas Wolfe (letter to his Mother 1943)
"In the depth of the anxiety of having to die is the anxiety of being eternally forgotten."
The Eternal Now
"Nothing is ever at rest-wood, iron, water, everything is alive, everything is raging, whirling, whizzing, day and night and night and day, nothing is dead, there is no such thing as death, everything is full of bristling life, tremendous life, even the bones of the crusader that perished before Jerusalem eight centuries ago."
-Mark Twain "Three Thousand Years Among the Microbes"
"Remember often the destroyer and cutter off of delights, which is death."
"Not one of you must wish for death, from any worldly affliction; but if there certainly is anyone wishing for death, he must say, "O Lord, keep me alive so long as life may be good for me, and cause me to die when it is better for me to do so."
Muhammed (Sayings of Muhammed)
"Death is a blessing to a Muslim. Remember and speak well of your dead, and refrain from speaking ill of them."
"Without being mindful of death, whatever Dharma practices you take up will be merely superficial."
The One Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa
"That day, in which you fear as being the end of all things, is the birthday of your eternity."
"If one wants to die peacefully, one must begin helping oneself long before one's time to die has come."
"You should strive for a readiness to die! Be certain and ready; when the time comes , you will have no fear and no regret."
"Death is the supreme festival on the road to freedom."
Miscellaneous Thoughts letters and papers from Prison
"Men are convinced of your arguments, your sincerity, and the seriousness of your efforts only by your death."
"To die is to leave off dying and do the thing once and for all."
"The confrontation with death-and the reprieve from it-makes everything look so precious, so sacred, so beautiful that I feel more strongly than ever the impulse to love it, to embrace it, and to let myself be overwhelmed by it. My river has never looked so beautiful.....Death, and its ever present possibility makes love, passionate love, more possible. I wonder if we could love passionately, if ecstasy would be possible at all, if we knew we'd never die."
-Abraham Maslow (from a letter written while recuperating from a heart attack)
"My heart had stopped.....Everything was just completely black....this void became the shape of a tunnel, and then before me was the most magnificent light: it's the Light in capital letters, and it's-very bluntly-the essence of God."
Otherworld Journeys: Accounts of Near-Death Experience in Medieval and Modern Times
"The Lord God�.said, �The man has become one of us, knowing good and evil; what if he now reaches out and takes fruit from the tree of life also, and eats it and lives forever? So the Lord God banished him from the garden of Eden to till the ground�.and he stationed the cherubim and a sword whirling and flashing to guard the way to the Tree of Life."
"Give up fearing death; it is at all times foolish to miss life�s pleasures for fear of death."
Disticha Moralia (200 A.D.)
"....my mind idly flitting from one thing to another, a sudden sense of ineffable well-being seemed to pervade me and to life me up for a breathless interval completely outside my mortal body. I felt no fright at all, merely surprise, and in my mind there burst the exultant thought: 'This is dying!' No thought of panic, of unfinished work, or loved ones left behind; just sheer and utter joy in the simple fact of death. Only it wasn't death-it was life, In that moment I lost all fear of cancer because I had faced death not with resignation but with eagerness."
-Edna Kaehle (Cancer patient. Denver 1946)
"When I am no more, practice a bit of spiritism in my honor. Call me and have me speak; remember how I love Life and the Living. Do not take this as a joke. I urge you to do as I ask; I implore you."
"Moussia" Maria Bashkirtseff
"We do not know whether it is good to live or to die. Therefore, we should not take delight in living nor should we tremble at the thought of death. We should be equiminded towards both. This is the ideal. It may be long before we reach it, and only a few of us can attain it. Even then, we must keep it constantly in view, and the more difficult it seems of attainment, the greater should be the effort we put forth."
"Live riotously. It is foolish to sit around waiting for the collector when the collector may be late. Baseball coach Yogi Berra taught us that "It�s not over till it�s over." And if The New Testament, Buddha, and the Koran are right. It may not be over even then. You�ll either be with your pals in paradise or you won�t feel a thing."
"Aha! I shall repeat it endlessly, the only misfortune is to be born!"
Madame Marie Du Deffand
"Death is simply a shedding of the physical body, like the butterfly coming out of a cocoon�It�s like putting away your winter coat when spring comes."
"It is no longer heroic to die. Death, on the contrary, has become an unnatural mistake-it is murder and it is now grotesquely ironic. Little Nell died through a failure of the Social Services."
"Your life feels different on you, once you greet death and understand your heart�s position."
"Death surprises us in the midst of our hopes."
Thomas Fuller M.D. (1732)
"I have got my leave. Bid me farewell, my brothers! I bow to you all and take my departure.
Here I give back the keys of my door-and I give up all claims to my house. I only ask for last kind words from you.
We were neighbors for long, but I received more than I could give. Now the day has dawned and the lamp that lit my dark corner is out. A summons has come and I am ready for the journey."
"Those who have the strength and the love to sit with a dying patient in the �silence that goes beyond words� will know this moment is neither frightening nor painful, but a peaceful cessation of the function of the body. Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of the million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever. To be a therapist to a dying patient makes us aware of our finiteness, our limited lifespan. Few of us live beyond our three score and ten years and yet in that brief time most of us create and live a unique biography and we are ourselves into the fabric of human history."
On Death and Dying
"Death is certain, let us forget it."
"Death is beautiful and poetic; it is absolutely different from life, it is the unknown and unexpected; it is full of possibilities and it is unlike anything that is known in life. For this alone it should be loved."
"We must learn how to die, how to die in the complete sense of the word. Fear of the end is the source of all loveless ness, and this fear arises only when love has already begun to fade."
"What is it to ordinary man to die, if once he can set his teeth to bear the merely animal fear? To give in-he has been doing that nine times out of ten all his life. To see the lower in him conquer the higher, his animal body turning into lower animals and these finally into the mineral-he had been letting this happen since he was born. To relinquish control-easy for him as slipping on a well-worn shoe."
(undated letter to Owen Barfield from C.S. Lewis)
There is no death. Only a change of worlds."
"The way to produce more life is to experience more death. Don�t let death be a once-in-a-lifetime thing! Experience each moment of your life as a death, for that is, in truth, what it is when you re-define death as simply the end of one experience and the beginning of another."
Neale Donald Walsch
Communion with God
"Death is anything but a failure. It is a critical chapter in human biography. For some, the last days are the crowning completion and the most precious jewels of an entire life."
Therese Schroeder-Sheker (founder, Chalice of Repose Project)
"Death is for many of us the gate of hell; but we are inside on the way out, not outside on the way in."
George Bernard Shaw
"We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance."
"If death is as horrible as is claimed, how is it that after the passage of a certain period of time we consider happy any being friend or enemy, who has ceased to live?"
The Trouble with being Born
"We are reluctant, of course, to treat birth as a scourge; has it not been inculcated as the sovereign good-have we not been told that the worst came at the end, not at the outset of our lives? Yet evil, the real evil is behind, not ahead of us. What escaped Jesus did not escape Buddha: "If three things did not appear in the world�.and ahead of old age and death he places the fact of birth, source of every infirmity, every disaster."
"Is it then so sad a thing to die?"
"It is as natural to die as to be born."
"Nothing can happen more beautiful than death."
"Death is not a foe, but an inevitable adventure."
"So death is the means by which dream matter changes back into the consciousness of God, releasing the soul with it for the next step in its progressive return journey to God. Thus death is a part of the process of salvation�.."
"I start with the premise that all human disease is genetic."
Paul Berg (Nobel Laureate)
"By design, the body should go on forever."
"These men, O Plato! Are perpetually bewailing the shortness of human life, and saying unkind things about Death�.."
"The savage so much considers death as part of his duties towards his community, that he not only refuses to be rescued, but when a woman who had to be immolated on her husband�s grave was rescued by Missionaries, and was taken to an island, she escaped in the night, crossed a broad sea-arm, swimming and rejoined her tribe, to die on the grave."
"Is not philosophy the study of death?"
"That which philosophers teach us should guide our views of death-never to be desired, never to be feared."
John Quincy Adams
Of all footprints
That of the elephant is supreme,
Of all mindfulness meditations
That on death is supreme.
"There is no place on earth where death cannot find us-even if we constantly twist our heads about in all directions as in a dubious and suspect land�.If there were any way of sheltering from death�s blows-I am not the man to recoil from it�.But it is madness to think that you can succeed�.
Men come and they go and they trot and they dance, and never a word about death. All well and good. Yet when death does come-to them, their wives, their children, their friends-catching them unawares and unprepared, then what storms of passion overwhelm them, what cries, what fury, what despair!�..
To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us. Let us adopt a way clean contrary to the common one: let us deprive death of its strangeness, let us frequent it, let us get used to it: let us have nothing more in mind than death�.We do not know where death awaits us; so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is necessary. For a man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave."
Michel de Montaigne
The Essays of Michel de Montaigne
As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence. I have formed during the last few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling! And I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity (you understand what I mean) of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness. I never lie down at night without reflecting that-young as I am-I may not live to see another day."
Mozart (a letter to his father, April 4,1787)
"If this is dying, I don�t think much of it."
"The mystics believe the ideal man shall walk himself to a "right death."
One Maxim (first century A.D. ) was repeated so often on tombstones that it was sometimes expressed only by initials: I was not;
I am not:
I do not care.
"Death on a grand scale does not bother us�.we can sit around a dinner table and discuss war, involving 60 million volatilized human deaths, as though we were talking about bad weather; we can watch abrupt bloody death every day, in color, on films and television, without blinking back a tear. It is when the numbers of dead are very small, and very close, that we begin to think in scurrying circles. At the very center of the problem is the naked cold deadness of one�s own self, the only reality in nature of which we can have absolute certainty, and it is unmentionable, unthinkable."
Dr. Lewis Thomas
The Lives of the Cell
"I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning."
"Why cheat ourselves with words so vague as life and Death!"
Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-73)
"Yes: death is Terrifying. Do not belittle it. Do not try to reduce this. Do not project your puny ideas upon it. But use death�s awareness as you would a fuel or a lamp: as a secret guide who will lead into the unknown and mysterious caverns of your self so that you can bring forth what you truly are. Your creativity needs your awareness of death for its energy, just as your muscles need long and painful workouts. Cherish your awareness of death as a gift from the universe. If you did not have this way of seeing the infinite significance of each moment, would anything have the power to get you out there to live your life?"
The Universe is a Green Dragon
"We sometimes congratulate ourselves at the moment of waking from a troubled dream; it may be so at the moment of death."
"Not in the sky, not in the midst of the sea, not even in the clefts of the mountains is there a spot in the whole world where, if a man abide there, death could not overtake him."
"I am going to the great perhaps."
"Death with friends is a feast."
"At present, death and mourning are treated with much the same prudery as the sexual impulses were a century ago�..Today it would seem to be believed, quite sincerely, that sensible, rational men and women can keep their mourning under complete control by strength of Will and Character, so that it need be given no public expression, and indulged, if at all, in private, as furtively as if it were an analogue of masturbation."
Death ,grief and Mourning
"�.In the course of the twentieth century an absolutely new type of dying has made an appearance in some of the most industrialized, urbanized, and technologically advanced areas of the Western World-and this is probably only the first stage.
Two characteristics are obvious to the most casual observer. First is its novelty, of course, its contrariness to everything that preceded it, of which it is the reverse image, the negative. Except for the death of statesmen, society has banished death. In the towns, there is no way of knowing that something has happened: the old black and silver hearse has become an ordinary gray limousine, indistinguishable from the flow of traffic. Society no longer observes a pause, the disappearance of an individual no longer affects its continuity. Everything in town goes on as if nobody died anymore�."
The Hour of Our Death
"�.Compare Tolstoi�s phrase, written in the 1880s, "This lie that degraded the formidable and solemn act of his death," with the last words of Pere F. de Daenville to Pere Ribes in 1973 when he was lying in an intensive-care unit with tubes all over his body: "They are cheating me out of my own death!" How close they seem, although they are almost a century apart."
The Hour of Our Death
"Despite our new freedoms, death is still an awkward subject for discussion. Every day we display further evidence of our discomfort with it and of our continuing uncertainty about the relationship of life and death."
The Romeo Error
"If a man doesn�t ponder death and impermanence deep in his heart
He may be both clever and learned
But is like an idiot
Concerning the purpose of life."
The Turquoise Bee
The Sixth Dalai Lama
"Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep."
"Termination of activity, cessation from movement and opinion, and in sense their death, is no evil. Turn thy thoughts now to the consideration of thy life, thy life as a child, as a youth, thy manhood, thy old age, for in these also every change was a death. Is this anything to fear? Turn thy thoughts now to thy life under thy grandfather, then to thy life under thy mother, then to thy life under thy father; and as thou findest many other differences and changes and terminations, as thyself: Is this anything to fear? In like manner, then, neither are the termination and cessation and change of thy whole life a thing to be afraid of."
"Death rides a fast camel."
"The rugged old Norsemen spoke of death as Heimgang-"home-going." So the snow-flowers go home when they melt and flow to the sea, and the rock-ferns, after unrolling their fronds to the light and beautifying the rocks, roll them up close again in the autumn and blend with the soil. Myriads of rejoicing living creatures, daily, hourly, perhaps every moment sink into death�s arms, dust to dust, spirit to spirit-waited on, watched over, noticed only by their Maker, each arriving at its own Heaven-dealt destiny. All the merry dwellers of the trees and streams, and the myriad swarms of the air, called into life by the sunbeam of a summer morning, go home through death, wings folded perhaps in the last red rays of sunset of the day they were first tried. Trees towering in the sky, braving storms of centuries, flowers turning faces to the light for a single day or hour, having enjoyed their share of life�s feast-all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love. Yet all are our brothers and they enjoy life as we do, share Heaven�s blessings with us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and return into eternity. "Our lives are rounded with a sleep."
Estimated Risks for an American over a 50 year period
Risk of death from botulism 1 in 2,000,000
Fireworks 1 in 1,000,000
Tornadoes 1 in 50,000
Airplane crashes 1 in 20,000
Asteroid impact 1 in 6,000
Electrocution 1 in 5,000
Firearms accident 1 in 2,000
Auto accident 1 in a 1,000
Homicide 1 in 300
(Source Tom Gehrels, ed, Hazards due to Comets and Asteroids (Tucson: U of AZ 1994)
"The weariest and most loathed worldly life that age, ache, penury, and imprisonment can lay on nature, is a paradise to what we fear of death."
"You�ve got to approach your dying the way you live your life-with curiosity, with hope, with fascination, with courage and with the help of your friends."
"How you die is the most important thing you ever do. I�ve been waiting for this for years."
"I sat for about an hour with several other people that afternoon and watched Leary as he slept. occasionally he woke, smiled, took sips on the ice that the nurse gave him, and once or twice tried to say something. At one point, he opened his eyes wide and said: "Flash!"
Later, around 9:00 p.lm., I made another visit to his bedroom. The only illumination in the room was a string of Christmas lights, on the wall above Leary's bed. Zach sat close, holding his stepfather's hand. Tim opened his eyes briefly at one point, looked at Zach, smiled and said softly, "Beautiful."
It was the last thing Timothy Leary said."
"There is no group, however primitive at the one extreme or civilized at the other, which left freely to itself and within its means does not dispose of the bodies of its members with ceremony."
Funeral Customs the World Over
"�.A tremendous amount of research has been done on the fear of death and dying, and most of this seems to assume that everybody is naturally afraid of death, but skimming through the vast literature on psychological responses to death, I am impressed by one fact. This fear is manifest only in adults and older children, and then only when they have time to think about it. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that such fear is a natural and inevitable part of our dying behavior. On the contrary, in cultures where death is dealt with more openly and seen as a part of the living process, there is no fear of dying."
The Romeo Error
"�I am becoming convinced that it no longer makes biological sense even to try to discriminate between life and death at any level."
"Do you see O my brothers and sisters? It is not chaos or death-it is form, union, plan-it is eternal life-it is happiness."
"Be not fond of the dull, smoke-colored light from hell."
Tibetan Book of the Dead
One in All,
All in one-
If only this is realized,
No more worry about not being perfect!
-Third Patriarch of Zen
"We must all become familiar with the thought of death if we want to grow into really good people."
"Death, that great puzzle, is no longer a mystery�.It is the most wonderful, joyous, sensitive, journey home."
"And I know I am deathless, I know this orbit of mine cannot
be swept by a
I know I shall not pass like a child�s
Curlacue cut with a
Burnt stick at night."
"I swear I think there is nothing but
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the
Nebulous float is for it, and the cohering
Is for it,
And all preparation is for it�..and identity
Is for it�..
And life and death are for it."
"Even if you�ve lived your life like a complete slob, you can die with terrific style. I call it "Designer Dying," and it involves two basic principles by which I�ve lived my life; think for yourself and question authority."
"Belief in only one life-the Western belief-leads to a strained, tense, hectic outlook. Time presses, and our single, never-to-be-repeated youth runs through our fingers like pearls dropped irremediably into an abyss. Loves and hates swell to the size of irremovable mountains. Virtue adorns the soul like a flashing sword and sin weighs it down like a lump of granite. Everything is unique, final, immense. Finally death presents itself, not as a stage in a journey, but as the end, an event of outstanding, terrifying importance."
"Death is unnatural�.Theoretically, man is quite immortal. His body tissue replaces themselves. He is a self-repairing machine. And yet he gets old and dies, and the reasons for this are still a mystery."
Dr. Linus Pauling
"Clearly, the freezer is more attractive than the grave, even if one has doubts about the future capabilities of science. With bad luck some people will simply remain dead, as they would have in the grave, but with good luck the manifest destiny of science will be realized and the resuscitatees will drink the wine of centuries unborn. The likely prize is so enormous that even slender odds would be worth embracing."
Robert C.W. Ettingei
The Prospect of Immortality
"Gilgamesh, I shall reveal a secret thing. It is a mystery of the gods I am telling you. There is a plant that grows under the water, it has a prickle like a thorn, like a rose; it will wound your hands but if you succeed in taking it, then your hands will hold that which restores his lost youth to a man."
Epic of Gilgamesh (3100 B.C.)
"Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God."
Baha u� Llah
"Death seems to provide the minds of the Anglo-Saxon race with a greater fund of innocent amusement than any other single subject�.the tale must be about dead bodies or very wicked people, preferably both, before the tired business man can feel really happy."
Dorothy L. Sayers
"Here and there and everywhere I came across the dead-long-gone, just gone, young, old, hardly started, ripe departed. Christian and Jew, Muslim and Mormon, saints and sinners, losers and winners, outlaws and in-laws, black and white and red all over, rich and poor, top dogs and fat cats, big shots and small fry, the once healthy and wealthy and wise and foolish and poor, the dead in all their rich variety, scattered about the earth in capital cities, small towns, remote corners, crowded burial grounds, empty fields, lying in the earth remembered, forgotten, adored, ignored, commemorated, nameless, all, all claimed by the great democracy of death."
The Cemetery Book
"Death is here and death is there,
Death is busy everywhere,
All around, within, beneath,
Above is death-and we are death
"Is death the last sleep? No, it is the last final awakening."
"The dead don�t die. They look on and help."
"It seems that the more advances we are making in science, the more death is feared and its actuality denied."
Return from Death
"We would think that our great emancipation, our knowledge of science and of man, had given us better ways and means to prepare ourselves and our families for this inevitable happening. Instead the days are gone when a man was allowed to die in peace and dignity in his own home."
On Death and Dying
"And nothing so bespeaks the current helplessness of our spirit, our intellectual disarray, as the loss of a clear and calm attitude towards death. The greater his well-being, the deeper the chilling fear of death cuts into the soul of modern man. This mass fear, a fear the ancients did not know, was born of our insatiable, loud and bustling life. Man has lost the sense of himself as a limited point in the universe, albeit one possessed of free will. He began to deem himself the center of his surroundings, adapting not himself to the world but the world to himself. And then, of course, the thought of death becomes unbearable: it is the extinction of the entire universe at a stroke."
The Russian Question
"Death therefore is nothing to us nor does it concern us a scrap�.."
Lucretius (99-55 B.C.)
"When a man dies, he does not just die of the disease he has: he dies of his whole life."
"A man�s dying is more the survivors� affair than his own."
The Magic Mountain (1924)
"Anxiety is the result of the perception of the truth of one�s condition. What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms. This is the terror; to have emerged from Nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression-and with all this yet to die."
"The ceaseless labour of your life is to build the house of death."
"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in sunset."
(last words of Crowfoot�a Blackfoot warrior(1890)
"You have to learn to do everything, even to die."
"Why do people lavish decoration on this set of bones, destined to disappear without a trace."
Zen Master Ikkyu
"Down, down, down into the darkness of
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the wiley,
I know, But I do not approve. And I am
Edna St. Vincent Millay
"We come out of the dark and go into the dark again, and in between lie the experiences of our life. But the beginning and end, birth and death, we do not experience; they have no subjective character, they fall entirely in the category of objective events, and that�s that."
"This world is but a thoroughfare full of woe,
And we but pilgrims passing to and fro
Death is an end of every worldly sore."
The Knight�s Tale
"If I could drop dead right now, I�d be the happiest man alive!
"Death in itself is nothing;
but we fear
To be we know not what,
We know not where."
"�.I did time in fourteen prisons. I know what "visiting hours" means. It means you don�t have autonomy over your body or your interpersonal relations because you�re in the joint!
Then, at the tender moment of ascendance, rather than letting you pass on harmoniously into blissful, transcendent illumination, they go into hysterics trying to keep you alive for a few more days of suffering. Imagine approaching a psychedelic experience powerful beyond your imagining, one that might last for eternity-or at the very least seem to-and there�s a bunch of people around you shouting and somebody pounding on your chest! Talk about punk rock."
Design for Dying
"Instead of treating the last act in your life in terms of fear, weakness, and helplessness, think of it as a triumphant graduation."
"�.We always tend to regard death as unpleasant, but if we consider that even today people can still make a virtue out of dying for God, for the capitalistic fatherland, and for the fatherland�s conglomerates, then we have to conclude that there are more stupid deaths to die than a death for lack of love. If it made sense for people to die for love in the past and in operas they still do-then it makes just as much sense for people to die today for the opposite reason; that is, for lack of love. I feel there are worse reasons for dying."
"A person seldom falls sick but the bystanders are animated with a faint hope that he will die."
"You die a little with each of your friends."
Guns, Gold, and Caravans
"Each of us comes into life with fists closed, set for aggressiveness and acquisition. But when we abandon life our hands our open; there is nothing on earth that we need, nothing the soul can take with it."
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
"This death is for many men a dreadful phantom; and yet it is no more than our deliverance from the bonds of matter."
"My body felt light, almost weightless, as when I was a child and could run and ski and jump with abandon, skimming over the earth, covering great distances through meadows and field unaware of time or of anything except glorious freedom. There was joy in me, flowing though me, dancing in me aching for expression, demanding release. Why-the thought came floatingly � had I been so serious so much of the time? What had so many people been bothered about? But then the joy rushed in to overflow the question.
Light was drawing me irresistibly, dazzling light, effulgent light of a quality I had had hints of before. The light was up ahead, still in the distance. But even here it bathed the glen through which I was running in shimmering splendor. The grass was dotted with flowers-I spotted buttercups and the orchid of fairy frong and the vermilion of fire pinks and mountain blues like patches of sky fallen into the grass-all of such intense coloration that they were not like flowers at all: They were explosions of colour. I did not understand and longed to pause to examine the flowers more closely, but I could not stop for that now. The light�I must get to the light!
Then I came to some sort of Barrier. Not a wall because I could see through it. Not glass because when I put my hand out my hand felt nothing. But I was stopped there nonetheless. Some sort of decision seemed to be required of me. I could go on or I could stay on this side of the barrier: The alternative was mine, I had been stopped in my joyous dash to make certain that I would pause to consider my choice.
Over there was the light�green wood, flower stained grass. The air was crystal. It was as if some sun of suns was glinting off prisms, shattering the light�s rays, deflecting them, reflecting them so dazzlingly that I had to put my hand up to shield my eyes. BATHED IN ITS LUSTER, THE LEAVES ON THE TREES THE BLOSSOMS ON THE BOUGHS, THE BLADES OF GRASS DID NOT SEEM TO BE LIGHTED FROM THE OUTSIDE. RATHER THE LIGHT APPEARED TO COME FROM THE INSIDE OF EACH OBJECT, FROM ITS HEART, FROM ITS VERY NATURE, SO THAT EACH LEAF, EACH PETAL STOOD APART FROM ALL OTHERS, LIVING DYNAMIC FORCE SOMEHOW POISED IN MOTION, ENERGY IN BALANCE.
Something had been stripped from my eyes. I was seeing in a manner I had never seen before. Unbelievingly my eyes fastened on the colour, the vivid pulsating colours, the riotous intensified colours, drinking them in, feasting on them. All my life I had cherished colours and light, but never had there been such colours or such light, never in all the world. I remembered something I had known long ago: For now we see through a glass darkly: but then face to face�"
Catherine Anne Marshall
"During my death experience I no longer was limited by the body�s sense receptors. I could observe directly pure forms of energy without conversation. And I began to understand what Christ meant by �I and my Father are one�. I could see energies, forms, and interlocking fields of the most beautiful colours and sounds, greater than the finest of the most beautiful colours and sounds, greater than the finest music played by masters. I could understand how it was that no one ever had been able to describe it with words. This experience will never be written�it doesn�t exist as words."
Eugene A. Albright
(describing his death experience in Fate magazine)
"In our post-Christian era death has recovered its old terrors, becoming unmentionable, as sex has become ever more mentionable. Private parts are public, but death is the twentieth century�s dirty little secret. What is more, the fantasy is sustained that as science had facilitated fornication without procreation, in due course it will facilitate life without death, and enable the process of extending our life span to go on and on for ever, so that it never does come to an end. This was Christian Barnard�s heart-transplant operations, which caused so much excitement at the time, seemed to hold out the hope of replacing our parts as they wore out, and thus of keeping us on the road indefinitely, like old vintage cars, New hearts, kidneys, genitals, brain boxes even, installed as and when required, the requisite spare parts being taken from the newly dead, or maybe from mental defectives and other afflicted persons who might be said for one reason or another to be making no good use of them. The resultant immortal beings would have no occasion to be raised from the dead as Lazarus was. Nor would Jesus� wonderful words about being the resurrection and the life have any significance. For them, there was no dying, and therefore no rising from the dead. Nor will those who dream of living without dying be attracted by, or even comprehend, the notion of dying in order to live."
Three Silent things:
The falling snow�The hour
Before the dawn�the mouth of one
"Anyone who grasps life completely has no fear of dying. The fear of death is merely the result of an unfulfilled life. It is a symptom of betrayal."
"A civilization that denies death ends by denying life."
The Labyrinth of Solitude
"Of course you don�t die, nobody dies, death doesn�t exist, you only reach a new level of vision, a new realm of consciousness, a new unknown world. Just as you don�t know where you came from, so you don�t know where you�re going. But there is something there, before and after, I firmly believe"
"Why, amico mio, you know as well as I, that death is life, just as our daily momentarily dying body is none the less alive, and ever recruiting new forces of existence. Without death, which is our church-yardy crape-like word for Change, for growth, there could be no prolongation for that which we call life. Never say of me that I am dead."
"It is useless to exclude death from our images, our words, our ideas, because death will obliterate all of us, beginning with those who ignore it or pretend to ignore it."
"Fear makes us turn our back on death, and by refusing to contemplate it we shut ourselves off from life, which is a totality that includes it."
"Death is a mirror which reflects the vain gesticulations of the living. The whole motley confusion of acts, omissions, regrets and hopes which is the life each one of us find in death, not meaning or an explanation, but an end. Death defines life; a death depicts a line in immutable forms, we do not change except to disappear. Our deaths illuminate our lives. If our deaths lack meaning, our lives also lacked it. Therefore we are apt to say, when somebody has died a violent death, "He got what he was looking for." Each of us dies the death he is looking for, the death he has made for himself. A Christian death or a dog�s death are ways of saying that reflect ways of living. If death betrays us and we die badly, everyone laments the fact because we should have died as we have lived. Death, like life, is not transferable. If we do not die as we have lived, it is because the life we lived was not really ours: it did not belong to us, just as the bad death that kills us does not belong to us. Tell me how you die and I will tell you who you are."
The Labyrinth of Solitude
"The love of Life and the fear of Death are two famous phrases that grow harder to understand the more we think about them."
Robert Louis Stevenson
"And yet, to one bent by age death will come as a release; I feel this quite strongly now that I have grown old myself and have come to regard death like an old debt, at long last to be discharged. Still, instinctively one does everything possible to delay this last fulfillment. Thus is the game which nature plays with us, we may ourselves smile that we are like that, but we cannot free ourselves of the instinct to which we are all subject."
(excerpt from a letter shortly before he died)
"Son of man, can these bones live?"
"Fear no more the heat o� the sun
nor the furious winter�s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done
Home art gone and te�en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust."
Dirge from Cymbeline
"When I left home with my wife last March 23 to go for a ten minute jog, I did not know that I would be gone for two weeks. My trip was the one that all of us must make eventually, from which only a rare few return. In my case a series of events occurred so extraordinarily timed to allow my eventual survival that words like �luck� or �coincidence� no longer seem applicable.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning. We had jogged and were driving back home to Mamaroneck, N.Y., along the Boston Post Road. It was 10:52 a.m. I had just stopped at a red light, opposite a gas station. My long, strange trip was about to start, and I must now use my wife�s words to describe what happened for the next few minutes:
�Victor turned to me and said, �Oh Lucy, I�� Then, as swiftly as the expiration of a breath, he seemed simply to settle down in his seat with all his weight. His head remained erect, his eyes opened wide, like someone utterly astonished. I knew instantly he could no longer hear or see me.
�I pulled on the emergency brake, pleading with him to hang on, shouting for help. The light changed and traffic moved around my car. No one noticed me. My husband�s color had now turned gray-green; his mouth hung open, but his eyes continued seemingly to view an astounding scene. I frantically tried to pull him to the other seat so I could drive him to the hospital. Then my cries for help attracted Frank Colangelo, proprietor of the gas station, who telephoned the police.�
When Seconds Count. It was now 10:55-three minutes had elapsed since my heart arrest. A first-aid manual reads, �When breathing and heartbeat stop and are not artificially started, death is inevitable. Therefore, artificial resuscitation must be started immediately. Seconds count.� Time was running out. In another 60 seconds my brain cells could start to die.
Now came the first of the coincidences: Before police headquarters could radio the emergency cal, Officer James Donnellan, cruising along the Boston Post Road, arrived at the intersection where our car seemed stalled. Checking me for pulse and respiration, and finding neither, he pulled me from the car with the help of Mr. Colangelo, and immediately started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
In the meantime, the police alert had reached Officer Michael Sena, who chanced to be cruising just half a mile from the scene. He reached me in less than half a minute. From his car Sena yanked an oxygen tank and an apparatus with a mask which is used to force air into the lungs. Within seconds he had the mask over my face. Donnellan continued with heart massage. Sena later told me, �I was sure we were just going through the motions. I would have bet my job that you were gone.�
Police headquarters also alerted the emergency rescue squad via a high-pitched radio signal on the small alert boxes all squad members carry on their belts. When his warning signal went off, Tom McCann, volunteer firemen and trained emergency medical technician, was conducting a fire inspection. He looked up and saw Officers Donnellan and Sena working on a �body� less than 50 yards away. McCann made the right connection and raced over, arriving just ten seconds after his alarm sounded.
"I tried the carotid pulse-you had no pulse,� McCann later said. �There was no breathing. Your eyes were open, and your pupils were dilated-a bad sign!� Dilated pupils indicate that blood is not reaching the brain. It can mean that death has occurred.
It was 10:56. McCann, who weighs 270 pounds, began to give me a no-nonsense heart massage.
Perfect Timing. The strange coincidence continued. The emergency squad warning beeper went off of the exact moment when Peter Brehmer, Ronald Capasso, Chip Rigano, and Richard and Paul Torpey were meeting at the firehouse to change shifts. A moment later and they would have left. The ambulance was right there. Everybody piled in. Manned by five trained first-aid technicians, the ambulance arrived three minutes later. It was 10:59.
When I was being moved into the ambulance, United Hospital in Port Chester, six miles distant, was radioed. The hospital called a �Code 99� over its loudspeaker system, signaling all available personnel into the Emergency Room. Here, an ideal combination of specialists was available; when I arrived, two internists, two surgeons, two technicians from the cardiology department, two respiratory therapists and four nurses were waiting. Dr. Harold Roth later said: �The patient at that point was dead by available standards. There was no measurable pulse, he was not breathing, and he appeared to have no vital signs whatever.�
11:10 a.m. A cardiac monitor was attached; a tube supplying pure oxygen was placed in my windpipe; intravenous injections were started. An electric-shock apparatus was then attached to my chest.
11:14. The first electric shock was powerful enough to lift my body inches off the operating table. But there was no result; my heart still showed no activity.
11:15 A second electric shock was powerful enough to lift my body inches off the operating table. But there was no result; my heart still showed no activity.
11:17. A third electric shock was applied�a final try. Twenty-three minutes had elapsed since my heart had stopped. Now, excitement exploded around the operating table as an irregular heart rhythm suddenly showed on the monitor. To everyone�s amazement, I sat bolt upright and started to get off the table. I had to be restrained.
�There�And Back.� Sometime later I was aware that my eyes were open. But I was still part of another world. It seemed that by chance I had been given this human body and it was difficult to wear. Dr. Roth later related: �I came to see you in the Coronary Care Unit. You were perfectly conscious. I asked how you felt, and your response was: �I feel like I�ve been there and come I�ve come back.� It was true: �you were there and now you were back.�
A hard time followed. I could not connect with the world around me. Was I really here now, or was it an illusion? Was that other condition of being I had just experienced the reality, or was that the illusion? I would lie there and observe my body with suspicion and amazement. It seemed to be doing things of its own volition and I was a visitor within. How strange to see my hand reach out for something. Eating, drinking, watching people had a dream-like, slow-motion quality as if seen through a veil.
Life to death-what else can one call it?�Was easy. There was no time for fear, pain or thought. There was no chance �to see my whole life before me� as others have related. The last impression I can recall lasted a brief instant. I was moving at high speed toward a net of great luminosity. Te strands and knots where the luminous lines intersected were vibrating with a tremendous cold energy. The grid appeared as a barrier that would prevent further travel. I did not want to move through the grid. For a brief moment my speed appeared to slow down. Then I was in the grid. The instant I made contact with it, the vibrant luminosity increased to a blinding intensity which drained, absorbed and transformed me at the same time. There was no pain. The sensation was neither pleasant nor unpleasant but completely consuming. The nature of everything had changed. Words only vaguely approximate the experience from this instant on.
The grid was like a transformer, an energy converter transporting me through form and into formlessness, beyond time and space. Now I was not in a place, nor even in a dimension, but rather in a condition of being. This new �I� was not the I which I new, but rather a distilled essence of it, yet something vaguely familiar, something I had always known buried under a superstructure of personal fears, hopes, wants and needs. This �I� had no connection to ego. It was final, unchangeable, indivisible, indestructible pure spirit.
During those first few days I was two people. My absentmindedness and strange detachment gave the doctors pause. Perhaps the brain had been damaged after all. Their concern is reflected in hospital records: �Retrograde amnesia and difficulty with subsequent current events was recognized�The neurologist felt prognosis was rather guarded regarding future good judgment�"
On the sixth day there was a sudden change. When I woke up, the world around me no longer seemed so peculiar. Something in me had decided to complete the return trip. From that day on, recovery was rapid. Eight days later I was discharged from the hospital.
Questions. Now family, friends and strangers began to ask what �death was like.� Could I remember what had happened during those 23 minutes when heart and breathing stopped? I found that the experience could not easily be communicated.
Later, feeling and thinking my way back into the experience, I discovered why I could not make it a simple recital of events: when I left my body I also left all sensory human tools behind with which we perceive the world we take for real. But I found that I now know certain things about my place in this our world and my relationship to that other reality. My knowing was not through my brain but with another part of me, which I cannot explain.
Transcendence. For me, the moment of transition from death. While completely unique and individual as a finger print, �I� was, at the same time, part of some infinite, harmonious and ordered whole. I had been there before.
The condition �I� was in was pervaded by a sense of great stillness and deep quiet. Yet there was also a sense of something momentous about to be revealed, a further change. But there is nothing further to tell except of my sudden return to the operating table.
I would like to repeat that these experiences outside the dimensions of our known reality did not �happen� as if I were on some sort of a voyage I could recollect. Rather, I discovered them afterward, rooted in my consciousness as a kind of unquestionable knowing. Being of a somewhat skeptical turn of mind, I am willing to grant the possibility that this is a leftover of some subtle form of brain damage. I know, however, that since my return from that other condition of being, many of my attitudes toward our world have changed and continue to change, almost by themselves. A recurrent nostalgia remains for that other reality, that condition of indescribable stillness and quiet where the �I� is part of a harmonious whole. The memory softens the old drives for possession, approval, and success.
Postscript: I have just returned from a pleasant, slow, mile-and-a-half jog. I am sitting in our garden writing. Overhead a huge dogwood moves gently in a mild southerly breeze. Two small children, holding hands, walk down the street absorbed in their own world. I am glad I am here and now. But I know that this marvelous place of sun and wind, flowers, children and lovers, this murderous place of evil, ugliness and pain, is only one of many realities through which I must travel to distant and unknown destinations. For the time being I belong to the other world and it belongs to me.
"I Died at 10:52 A.M."
Victor D. Solow
From The Readers Digest
"About six weeks before I left Madura for good, the great change in my life took place. It was quite sudden. I was sitting alone in a room on the first floor of my uncle's house. I was rarely sick, and on that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but I was seized by a sudden, violent fear of death. There was nothing in my state of health to account for it, and I didn't try to account for it or to find out whether there was any reason for the fear. I just felt "I am going to die" and began thinking what to do about it. It didn't occur to me to consult a doctor or my elders or friends; I felt that I had to solve the problem myself, there and then.
The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inward and I said to myself mentally, without actually speaking the words, "Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying? This body is dying." And I at once dramatized the occurrence of death. I lay down with my limbs stretched out stiff as though rigor mortis had set in and imitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the inquiry. I held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no sound could escape, so that neither the word "I" nor any other word could be uttered. "Well then, " I said to myself, " this body is dead. It will be carried stiff to the burning ground and there burnt and reduced to ashes. But with the death of this body am I dead? Is this body I? It is silent and inert, but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of the 'I' within me, apart from it. So I am Spirit transcending the body. The body dies, but the Spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit." All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truth; I perceived it directly, almost without thought-process. "I" was something very real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with my body was centered on that "I." From that moment onward the "I" or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death had vanished at once and forever. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on. Other thoughts might come and go like the various notes of music, but the "I" continued like the monotone sruti note that underlies and blends with all the other notes. Whether the body was engaged in talking, reading, or anything else, I was still centered on "I" . Previous to that crisis I had no clear perception of my Self and was not consciously attracted to it. I felt no perceptible or direct interest in it, much less any inclination to dwell permanently in it."
Books: Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge, by Arthur Osborne Weiser
"Picture a number of men in chains, and all condemned to death; each day some are strangled in the sight of the rest; those who remain see their own condition in that of these their fellows, looking at one another with sorrow and without hope each awaiting his turn. This is the picture of the condition of man."
"Death didn�t scare her. It was an episode in her life. If you live right, death is a joke to you as far as fear is concerned."
"Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?"
"Fingering though a anthology of poetry, I found it more difficult to find poems that mourned the coming of death than poems that welcomed it. Walt Whitman�s carol, for example: �Come, lovely and soothing death�� seems to represent centuries of poetic feeling."
Dying & Creating
"Friend, behold our graves that fill the space. What of the graves from the time of �AD?�
Tread gently for I do not think the earth�s crust is anything but the remains of men.
Unworthy it would be of us to slight our forbears, separated by distant time though we may be. Perhaps the self-same grave has become a grave many a time, laughing at the crowding of opposites.
And the buried upon the buried in the long run of the ages.
Abu al-�Ala� al-Ma�arri (d. 1057) Poet from northern Syria
"Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains
Like the sea."
"But the real job is, and that�s why I need your help, to tell people that death does not exist. It is very important that mankind knows that, because we are at the beginning of a very difficult time. Not only for this country, for the whole planet Earth. Because of our own destructiveness. Because of the nuclear weapons. Because of our greediness and materialism. Because we are piggish in terms of ecology, because we have destroyed so many, many natural resources, and because we have lost all genuine spirituality. I�m exaggerating, but not too much. The only thing that will bring about the change into a new age is that the Earth is shaken, that we are shaken, and we�re going to be shaken. We have already seen the beginning of it.
You have to know not to be afraid of that. Only if you keep a very, very open channel, and open mind, and have no fear, will great insight and revelations come to you. They can happen to all of you in this room. You do not have to take a guru, you do not have to go to India, you don�t even have to take a T.M. Course. You don�t have to do anything except learn to get in touch with your own inner self, and learn not to be afraid. And one to not be afraid is to know that death does not exist, that everything in this life has a positive purpose. Get rid of all your negativity and begin to view life as a challenge, a testing ground of your own inner resources and strength.
(From a letter written to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross by a woman who had already "died")
"As a doctor I am convinced that it is hygienic to discover in death a goal towards which one can strive."
"Whoever rightly understands and celebrates death at the same time magnifies life."
"Take the word �death� out of your vocabulary and the great works of literature become meaningless; take that awareness away and the cathedrals collapse, the pyramids vanish into the sand, the great organs become silent."
"Life would be no good without death."
(a saying of the Kasai of East Africa)
"If the vital spark in a grain of wheat can pass unchanged through countless deaths and resurrections, surely the spirit of man will be able to defy the grave."
"Death, by its very uncertainty, teaches us to use the present hour."
"Drawn in a hurdle, in his shirt, with a placard on his shoulders inscribed "Atheist and Blasphemer of the Name of God", he went to his death with a high heart, rejoicing, as he cried in Italian, to die like a philosopher. A Catholic historian, who was present, says he hardily declared that "Jesus facing death sweated with fear: I die undaunted". But before burning him they tore out his tongue by the roots; and the Christian historian is humorous over the victim's long cry of agony.
Vanini was burnt alive on the day of his sentence (Feb 9, 1611) I quote the following account from J.M. Robertson . A Short History of Freethought Ancient and Modern (London: Watts, 1915, P.291:
"How death came into the world, and what comes after Death, have always been the grand subjects of religious and philosophical dispute. Death will always remain upon the Earth, according to Christian dogma, until the Day of Doom"
The White Goddess
"Man has created death."
"What wouldst thou be found doing when overtaken by Death! If I might choose, I would be found doing some deed of true humanity, of wide import, beneficent and noble. But if I may no be found engaged in aught so lofty, let me hope at least for this-what none may hinder, what is surely in my power-that I may be found raising up in myself that which had fallen; learning to deal more wisely with the things of sense; working out my own tranquility, and thus rendering that which is its due to every relation of life....
If Death surprise me thus employed it is enough if I can stretch forth my had to God and say, 'The faculties which I received at Thy hands for apprehending this, Thine Administration, I have not neglected. As far as in me lay, I have done Thee no dishonour. Behold how I have used the senses, the primary conceptions in which Thou gavest me. Have I ever laid anything in Thy charge? Have I ever murmured at aught that came to pass, or wished it otherwise? Have I in anything transgressed the relations of life? For that Thou didst beget me, I thank Thee for that Thou hast given; for the time during which I have used the things that were Thine, if suffices me. Take them back and place them wherever Thou wilt! They were all Thine, and Thou gavest them me.' If man depart thus minded, is it not enough? What life is fairer or more noble, what end happier than this?
-Epictetus, First Century A.D.
"Eventually your skull is empty, and the surgeon�s hand rests deep in your brainstem. Though you have not lost consciousness, or even your train of thought, your mind has been removed from the brain and transferred to a machine. In a final, disorienting step the surgeon lifts out his hand. Your suddenly abandoned body goes into spasms and dies. For a moment you experience only quiet and dark. Then, once again, you can open your eyes. Your perspective has shifted. The computer simulation has been disconnected from the cable leading to the surgeon�s hand and reconnected to a shiny new body of the style, color, and material of your choice. Your Metamorphosis is complete."
"Cryonics is becoming big business. There are several American cryonics firms-Alcor, Cryocare and Cryo Span, among others-and they have dozens of patients suspended in liquid nitrogen, awaiting future medical treatment. These patients paid amounts ranging from $25,000 to $120,000 to be suspended. In the last decade cryonics (not "cryogenics," which is a popular misnomer) has moved from the quack zone into a lucrative corporate enterprise.
Cryopreservation may eventually be on a par with life insurance and wills. It was K. Eric Drexler�s book, Engines of Creation, that elevated cryonics into scientific feasibility. Progress in cryonics is quickening: human embryos are routinely frozen, and a mammalian heart has been frozen in liquid nitrogen and then revived. If it becomes demonstrable that a future technology could reverse freezing damage, the cryonics industry will reap enormous profits as baby boomers, the legion of denial, sign up en masse.
"�the universal fact of death remained a relatively tabooed subject in Western culture and had, therefore, all the power of a repressed content, seeking a channel of expression."
Journal of Human Relations 1966
"(Lewis was grieving the death of his wife: ) It is hard to have patience with people who say "There is no death" or "Death doesn't matter." There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn't matter. I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?"
""In our own time the French writer, Simone de Beauvoir, has in her novel Tous les homes sont mortels once more attempted to explore this theme. The twentieth-century writer can no longer rely on the devil and his pact in order to explain the pain and the hurt of him who cannot die. Rather this pain, this despair, is now recognized as the intrinsic and inevitable component of the fate of a person doomed to live forever. The hero in de Beauvoir�s book is a man who loses, as the centuries pass by, all capacity to see, to taste, to laugh, to cry, to search, to be surprised-all experiences that, as I shall try to show later on, are essential to the process of creation. Instead, everything becomes for him flat, dull, monotonous; and he becomes a �no-person�, neither mean nor generous, neither brave nor cowardly, neither good nor bad. For if time stretches indefinitely then there can be no measure and no meaning. For then there is only: Always the same past, the same experience, the same reasonable thought, the same boredom. A thousand years, ten thousand years. I can never take leave of myself."
Dying & Creating (Society of Analytical Psychology)
Oh man, whose foot is caught in the trap of fame and
How long will you be taken up with the desires of
This restless world?
Think of the day when the spring of your life will
And your tulip-coloured face will turn to autumn
How long will unheeding sleep yet obscure understanding�s eye?
Are you not warned by the fate that befell the King-that lion of war-
That royal master-cavalier of this fortunate realm,
For whose swift-wheeling steed the world�s field was
Too much confined?
The Hungarian infidels bowed their heads before his
The men of Europe admired the temper of his sabre.
Graciously, like a rose petal he laid his face to the
The Treasurer of the Ages placed him, like a jewel,
Into his treasure chest�..
(A panegyric to Sulayman the Magnificent by Baki (1526-1600)
"If the dead are not raised, Let us Eat and Drink
For tomorrow we Die."
(1 Corinthians 15;32)
"There is only one way to get ready for immortality, and that is to love this life and live it as bravely and faithfully, and cheerfully as we can."
Henry Van Dyke
"Faith in the afterlife makes people kinder and happier in earthly life."
"I lost almost all my fear of death, which had always terrified me. Now it seems to me a very easy thing for a servant of God that in a single moment the soul should find itself freed from this prison and at rest. This moment in which God raises and transports the soul to show it things of such a sublime excellence seems to me like that in which the soul leaves the body."
"Then ,beyond question, the soul is immortal and imperishable, and our souls will truly exist in another world."
"The manner in which people die reflects more than any other fact the value of a society."
"The dead outnumber the living, in a ratio that could be as high as 20 to 1,credible estimates of the number of people who have ever lived on the earth run from 70 billion to over 100 billion�.the dead will always outnumber the living�.
"It must indeed be granted that with my death my world comes to an end; for in this context "my world" is just a rhetorical way of referring to me or my life. It may also be granted that the end of my life or my world is, in a manner of speaking, the end of everything or the end of the world. It is the end of everything if the "manner of speaking" amounts to the qualification that it is the end of everything for me or in my experience... If I die, if my world comes to an end, it does not follow that the world comes to an end-at least not unless solipsism is true, and solipsism here means my solipsism, not anybody else's. In fact, to judge by what happened after the death of others, each of us has extremely good grounds for supposing that after his world comes to an end, the world will go on."
Paul Edwards Editor-in-chief of The Encyclopedia of Philosophy
"Because we die our death in this life, because we are continually taking leave, continually disappointed, ceaselessly piercing through realities into their nothingness, continually narrowing the possibilities of free choice through our actual decisions and actual life....we die throughout life, and what we call death is really the end of death, the death of death."
"As long as you do not know
How to die and come to life again,
You are but a sorry traveler
On this dark earth."
"Let it be beautiful
When I sing the last song.
Let it be day.
I would stand upon my two feet, singing.
I would look upward with my eyes, singing.
I would have the winds to envelope my body.
I would have the sun to shine upon my body.
Let it be beautiful
When Thou wouldst slay me, O Shining One.
Let it be day when i sing the last song."
(a Cry dance & Last song....American-Indian.....translated by Hartley burr alexander)
"I lay in this unknown state of unconsciousness for about an hour or an hour and a half, and then as a man rises from sleep, I got up and laughed to myself, saying, "I just died, but now I'm alive again." I got up feeling very much at peace, very happy and very full of love. I realized that I had experienced death when I saw the unmanifest divine radiance as bright as millions of suns. I had been very frightened, but from this experience I now understood death, I realized that death is nothing but this condition. Once I had seen the sphere of unmanifest light, I lost all fear. This is the state of liberation from individual existence. Since then my courage has increased a great deal, and I no longer know any fear. I am not afraid of anything. I never think about what is going to happen. I never worry about what somebody will do. The place of fear within me has been destroyed. I have gained total fearlessness."
Play of Consciousness: a spiritual Autobiography
"I came into this world and everyone was laughing as I was crying. I leave the world and everyone is crying and I am laughing."
"Death is like a rumble of distant thunder at a picnic."
EACH YEAR WE BURY
827,000 gallons of embalming fluid, which includes formaldehyde
180,544,000 pounds of steel, in caskets
5,400,000 pounds of copper and bronze, in caskets
30 million board feet of hardwoods, including tropical woods, in caskets.
28,000,000 pounds of steel in vaults
(compiled by Mary Woodsen, vice President of the Pre-Posthumous Society of Ithaca, New York, )
Alternatively.....A Swedish company, Promessa, will freeze-dry your body in liquid nitrogen, pulverize it with high frequency vibrations, and seal the resulting powder in a cornstarch coffin. They claim this "ecological burial" will decompose in 6 to 12 months.
"OH WOW,OH,WOW,OH WOW!!
Read" Coming to Rest: A guide to Caring for Our Own Dead" By Richard Spiegel
Book: "A Social History of Dying" by Alan Kellehear
Book: "Famous Last Words: Fond Farewells, Deathbed diatribes, and Exclamations Upon Expiration." compiled by Ray Robinson
Book: "Last Laughs" by Kathleen E. Miller
Book: "Deaths of Man" by Edwin S. Shneidman
Book: "The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
Book: "Death and Western Thought" by Jacques Chron
Book: "The Mourner's Dance: What We Do When People Die" by Katherine Ashenburg
Book: "Twentieth Century Book of the Dead" by Gil Elliot
Book: "What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life" by David Kuhl
Book: "As I Lay Dying: Meditations Upon Returning" by Richard John Neuhaus
Book: "Death: The Final Stage of Growth: by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Book: "The Wheel of Life: A memoir of Living and dying" by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Book: "To Live Until We Say Goodbye" by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Book: "The Facts of Death: A Complete Guide for Being Prepared" by Michael A. Simpson
Book: "Death: The Trip of A Lifetime" by Greg Palmer
Book: "Tibetan Book of the Dead: Or the After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, according to Lama Kazi Dawa-Sandup's English Rendering" Compiled and Edited by W.Y. Evans-Wentz
Book: "Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death" by Lisa Takeuchi Cullin
Book: Dealing Creatively with Death: A manual of Death Education and Simple Burial" by Ernest Morgan
Book: "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach
Book: "The Mourner's Dance: What We Do When People Die" by Katherine Ashenburg
Book: "Let me Die" by Lloyd Cole
Book: "Book Of Dead Philosophers" by Simon Critchley
Book: "Last Rights: The Struggle Over the Right to Die" by Sue Woodman
Book: The Quest For Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Aging" by S.J. Olshansky & B.A. Carnes
Book: "Near-Death Experience and Christian Hope: The Albert Cardinal Meyer Lectures" by Carol Zaleski
Build A casket�will send a do-it-yourself kit($499) for construction of a no-frills casket. www.buildacasket.com
Virtual Memorial Garden provides free perpetual memorials catless.ncl.ac.uk/vmg
Direct casket guarantees its products, delivers with 24 hours www.directcasket.com
Book: "The Affordable Funeral: Going in Style, Not in Debt"
Book: "The Spare Room" By Helen Garner
By Dr. R.E. Markin
National Hospice Organization www.nho.org
"And so long as you haven�t experienced
this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest
on the dark earth."
Book: "The Denial of Death" by Ernest Becker
Book: "Images of Afterlife: Beliefs from Antiquity to Modern Times" by Geddes MacGregor
Book: "Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in the Religions of the West" by Alan F. Segal
Book: "Dealing Creatively with Death" by Ernest Morgan
Book: "On Our Way: The Final Passage Through Life and Death" by Robert Kastenbaum
Book: "The Hour of our Death" by Philippe Aries
Book: "Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System" by Stephan P. Kierman
Book: "The Buried Soul: How Humans Invented Death" by Timothy Taylor
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