"Death is an inevitable part of life. We begin to die as soon as we are born. We can choose to ignore this unpleasant fact, busying ourselves with the tasks of present day life—focusing on making money, succeeding in our career or profession, distracting ourselves with entertainments like films, video games, pop music, and TV—until death inevitably come to us. Or we can face our our inevitable fate and prepare ourselves for it now in our present life.
With the decline of conventional religion and of religious values during the last three hundred years in the West and with the triumph of materialistic science and its marvelous technology, people have tended to push the existential fact of death out of their daily consciousness, as if they would live forever. Increasingly, old people and the dying are hidden from view—ware-housing them in old people’s retirement homes or in sanitized hospital wards.
Yes, violence and death are relentless depicted in films, on TV, and in video games, but these events no longer feel real and we have become desensitized to them. They are more like events depicted in cartoons. They do not touch us at the existential level. We repress the thought of our own mortality, that death will come to us personally, until it is too late, whether death from accident or from a terminal illness. Yet, the inevitability of our own death is real and actual and ever-present. No amount of wishful thinking or distraction with entertainments will make it go away. In denying to ourselves that we will eventually die, we deny part of ourselves, our shadow side. Death’s inevitability is ever a part of our life here and now and it will follow us as relentlessly as the shadow follows the body. Our modern secular society and scientific rationalistic culture does not prepare us for death. We have lost touch with the ars moriendi, the art of dying.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead"
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