Be aware of your mortality. It is not so depressing as it is made out to be. In fact, being aware of the fact that one day you are going to die will make you concentrate on the more important things in your life and to adjust your priorities.
I was looking at my cluttered desk yesterday. I could not throw anything away. Every piece of paper, every bill every letter seemed important. I was also aware that one day I will go out through that front door and never come back again. That day could be today, tomorrow or in twenty years’ time. This did not make me feel morbid. This made me walk away from that desk with a sense of freedom and ease. The philosophy of the consumer society is not constructed to allow us to devote a thought to our own lease of time in this world. The consumer society tells us that while you are here, you are to consume, and consume greedily with both arms out, as much as you can grab and then spend your time guarding and caring for those possessions. Nothing in the agenda about how I should arrange my time and life so as to achieve peace towards the end of my life. Even retirement is shrouded in large financial deals and insurances with brochures showing beaches in paradise islands, just to tempt us. Not that any of us mere mortals can afford to live on those islands.
I come from a society where my ancestors prayed every day for the peace of their souls; for their end to be peaceful and pain free. They did good deeds not because they were wearing a red nose but they fervently believed that good deeds would make them a better person and the karma of having a store of good deeds would allow them to hope for peace in their present life and their after life. Now, we have negated this whole argument by scoffing at the after life. But who knows? Self appointed opportunistic ‘scientists’ and ‘philosophers’ declare there is no god and therefore there is no after life. It does not necessarily go that way. Even if it did how would they know? The after life happens in a separate universe from this one. There are whole mysteries in the known universe which we don’t know. Then how about the unknown universes we don’t know even exist? In the words of the greatest philosopher of the 21st century Mr. Ronald Rumsfeld, ‘there are unknown unknowns’. He was also rather arrogant. Here is the clip of him declaring his theses.
But I digress. The aim of this post is to make you aware that one day you are going to walk away from the mess around you. So don’t expend too much of your energy running round in circles mending flood defenses. I have the story of a poor bereft man in Gaza surveying the ruins of his demolished home in which he had lost his wife and two of his children. He said, with the great philosophy of the long suffering Arabs, “If I cannot fix this, my sons will fix it. If they cannot do it, my grandsons will fix it, God willing”.
My house, for instance, is a hundred and thirty four years old. I have been only here for the last thirty four years. In time the house will pass to someone else who will also guard it for his short life span and so on. I have books which are over 200 years old. Someone has looked after them before me and kept them in good condition. I have lovingly cared for them in my life. Who knows what happens in this godless and visionless world after me. And should I care what happens to them?
I am aware I am mentioning god in this post. I am not a fanatical believer but I keep my options open. I am not arrogant enough to look into the darkness and declare the non-existence of god. But we do make anyone who owns to having any spiritual feeling into a religious fanatic, a maniac. That makes us feel good about our state in our material world. As long as we can scramble to be near the top of the pile we can be virtuous in the knowledge that we have made it; that there is no other test awaiting us in the hereafter. We can then sigh and wait for the nursing home. Having lost our god and having no belief in anything of a spiritual nature all we have is a world which is in a spiral of decline and we scramble faster and faster to grab for ourselves some of the spoils before it all goes down the pan.
Being aware of mortality does not mean that we have to believe in god or the afterlife. It does mean however that our time in this world is limited. Being aware of this, should we not be putting that time to better use than running around in circles doing the same repetitive things some of which are perfectly useless. Should we not infuse the time we have to acts which will make us better human beings, acts which will make us more spiritual, more harmonious with the world around us.
Also, believe me if you are aware of your mortality it is easier to let go and achieve a sense of freedom. It is like being in a difficult marriage where you know there is a cut off date when you can walk away free. Your time with your partner then becomes bearable and even pleasurable. I get that feeling when I have booked a long holiday. I let go of all my chores. The garden grows into a forest and spiders gleefully invade the corners of my home. I just don’t care. I watch it all with indifference. I will be away and everything can fester till I get back.
And I am a better person to my friends and my family. I have no chores frowing my brows. Try it sometime! You are worth it!