Spirituality and death are not light topics often spoken of, particularly in Australia. Deeper questions on life, death, spirituality and meaning are often left untouched outside the circles of philosophy, religion and very close family and friends. Yet they lurk in the shadowy recesses of our minds, buried beneath the busy-ness and the whirlwind of daily life, emerging only when prompted and typically buried soon after.
Death seems to be the one thing that is a certainty, yet it manages to shock us. It is as if we know that it will eventually happen, but don’t believe it when it does, as it forces us to confront our own mortality, our own frailty.
It is fact. You are going to die. A moving piece written on the NYT puts it well.
we don’t have a choice. You are older at this moment than you’ve ever been before, and it’s the youngest you’re ever going to get. The mortality rate is holding at a scandalous 100 percent. Pretending death can be indefinitely evaded with hot yoga or a gluten-free diet or antioxidants or just by refusing to look is craven denial.
Yet, that is what society does. We deny it to ourselves. We imagine that somehow, we will not fall prey to this fatal condition called life. And yet, we do. Inevitably.
And inevitably, we become simply another organism that has lived on this earth, and life moves on. No matter what role we played on this earth – king, pauper, mother, villain – the planet keeps spinning, and eventually, save for a few, even the memory is forgotten.
Paraphrasing from R.Roberts, Islam (for me) is the wonderful belief that this life is not our whole story.
The fundamental belief in Islam, and indeed in many other religions, is that this life is merely a stage in the lives of our soul – that the time on this earth will be judged after we pass on, as we continue into the next life.
This is why death is something we are not taught to fear, but to prepare for. That doesn’t always make it easier to deal with, but somehow easier accept, and it provides answers to questions no one living can definitely respond to.
I’ve grown into my religion and spirituality as I have aged. It is a process, just like any thing else, and with this growth has come the realisation that belief in the afterlife changes the perspective and the attitude taken to life as a whole.
For example, people often ask about the difficulty in forgoing things in this world – alcohol, pork and promiscuity are the ones I get asked about the most – and find it difficult to comprehend why anyone would voluntarily put themselves through extra difficulty. Once you understand that these actions are providing “brownie points” for a level of the game you haven’t reached yet, it begins to make some more sense.
If I have a medical problem, I’ll go to the experts – the doctors. If I have a question on life, spirituality and what’s next, I live by what the experts in that industry say – the industry of spirituality if you will, is religion.
I don’t always understand the answers I am given, but I have faith. After all, we follow doctor’s orders don’t we?
Here are a two beautiful links that prompted me to write this piece.