Life and death are two parts of a whole, two parts of our existence, mutually compatible. One cannot exist without the other; both to be honoured, respected and valued.
We spend so much time fearing death that we do not take the opportunity to live. Death is not to be feared, it is the continuance of life. A mere blink of the eye, a step out into the unknown maybe, but a step forwards into a realm we cannot imagine, but a world surrounded by love and those who love us. We should not fear death, but embrace it when the time comes.
Likewise, we should not long for death; it will come when the time is right. Just as we must embrace death then we must also embrace life. We have chosen to come here for a reason. We have chosen to experience the physical joys of life, to luxuriate in the wonders of our five physical senses. To feel the water rippling over our feet as we paddle in the sea; to smell the unique and beautiful scent of a perfect rose in the early morning; to hear music that touches our soul and brings tears to our eyes; to taste the most luscious of fruit as we bite into it and juice runs down our chins; to watch in wonder and awe at the rising and setting of the sun with all its myriad of colours.
We are also here to learn and for spiritual development. If our physical lives were eternal then we would have no impetus to face our challenges and to make the most of them. We must therefore take every opportunity to connect with the world, with our friends, family and wider community, and also with nature. Do not waste time on fret and worry. Life is too short for that. Embrace it with joy and share that joy with everyone and everything around you. This is your personal responsibility. This is your opportunity for progress of your soul.
Do not give of yourself so much that you become a burden to others. If you have not looked after yourself properly, then you are not capable of fully helping others. Instead, in giving help, you may then lean on others for support yourself. You are just transferring the burden and not addressing it. You need to seek to heal yourself first so that the help that you give others is a joy and not a chore. Your joy will be infectious and will heal those whom you help and will give you even more strength to continue to provide that help and support to the person and others. This is because joy is based on love and love is boundless and will multiply if given the chance. So do not help people because it is your duty, help them because you are filled with love.
Your first personal responsibility is to look after your own, physical, emotional and spiritual well-bring. As they say, get your own house in order before you can help others. Let go of your worries. Face each challenge like a new day. Accept that, for whatever reason, you have chosen to experience these challenges in your life and by dealing with them you will achieve spiritual growth. The greatest learning comes from the most difficult of tasks. You may consider that you are suffering, but try to view this suffering as learning instead. There are hard lessons to be learnt, but through them you will become a stronger, more rounded and compassionate soul.
Nothing in this world lasts for ever, everything is temporary. Your struggles of today will become a memory of tomorrow. Many struggles you create in your own mind by overthinking what may or not happen; worrying about things that never materialise. Tomorrow, or in a week, a month, or a year, you will have forgotten the majority of these worries. You will remember the difficult times, but you will have fond memories of specific events and even moments of laughter that occurred at the darkest of times. It is these fond memories and humorous moments that you should hang on to. Don’t dwell on the difficult times, you have survived them and you are still here. All of this is part of a much greater plan than you can imagine.
Most importantly just enjoy the good times. Do not let them be overshadowed by worry. Each day take a few moments to look around you. Walk out and experience whenever you can the joys of nature. All the world is there to see, if you open your eyes wide enough. Do not be afraid of letting go, if only for a moment, to experience the wonder of the world and let it seep into your soul and provide upliftment. Be grateful for what you have. Every day think of at least three things for which you are grateful. They do not have to be big things, but just take a moment to be thankful and either say out loud or in your head – thank you for each of these things. When you get the opportunity: sing, dance, laugh, shout with joy, smile, hug, kiss and most of all love. Love everything and everyone. They are all a part of you – even your grumpy next door neighbour. Love him for his grumpiness. Laugh at yourself for this. Be happy! It’s ok to be happy – you are allowed. It’s your personal responsibility to find happiness as from happiness comes strength.
With strength you will be in a fit state to help others. You will have that joy that you can share with them and bring upliftment without becoming worn down by their worries and problems. You will have built yourself a spiritual armour of joy and love. Of course, there will be days when your armour feels a bit flimsy and weak. That is a signal to recharge your batteries and to take a break. If we had such strong spiritual armour that we could withstand anything, we would not need to be on this path of spiritual development. So accept that you are still learning but it is an amazing opportunity to experience life.
As death approaches, do not fear it. Do not fill your life with attempts to avoid death as it is impossible. As Benjamin Franklin said “nothing can be said to be certain but death and taxes”. There is nothing more miserable than a life trailing in and out of the doctor’s surgery or the hospital trying lots of different medications, all with awful side effects, to try to delay the inevitable. Death is not to be feared as Kahlil Gibran says in “The Prophet”:
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Make the last years of your life happy and joyous ones. Explore all those things that you have not had the opportunity to uncover before. Spend time attending to your own mind and spirit. Meditate. Relax. Enjoy the fruits of your labour. Spread your wisdom. Look kindly on others mistakes. Don’t interfere (too much) as everyone has their own lessons to learn. See death as a friend waiting around a corner with hand outstretched, filled with love and light, ready to take your hand when the moment comes for you to breathe one last breath, a deep sigh and then slip gently away into your new spiritual life. A rebirth filled with awe and wonder, love and light, beyond all your imaginings.
So honour and respect your life and your death. Fear neither. Live your life to the full. Accept the challenges it presents as opportunities to learn. Find joy and happiness so that you can spread it to others. Accept that in time death will come and be ready to welcome it like an old friend.