by Laleema Kuthiala
February 19, 2015
"The fear of death
follows from the fear of life.
A man who lives fully is
prepared to die at any time."
Heroes seldom die; they rise above adversity and conquer death
itself to inspire, thrill and invigorate us.
On screen and off it, through trial and triumph,
heroes portray the loftiest of human ambitions - immortality. Heroes
live forever, and ironically we have death to thank for that! For as
a reference point, it is death that validates our hero's endeavors,
death that lends meaning to his/her life, and death that
crystallizes a hero in human memory.
Our own lives are not all that different.
Personally and interpersonally, this final milestone plays a major
part in shaping our attitudes and response to the world around us -
here and now. Whether you realize it or not, the act of dying and
how we move through it, mirrors the deepest essence of our social
and cultural contexts.
The final rites and our 'final judgment' echo the
ideals we yearn to uphold through our time here on Earth.
And thus our death is about a lot more than release
and goodbyes; through concept and ritual it embodies an index to
measure our entire life against.
What History & Tradition
Maasai tribes of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania for
instance, believe that we are all temporal beings, and that a
warrior lives on through the family he leaves behind.
Social constructs are therefore visibly elaborate
while death is unassuming and modest.
The Maasai body is ordinarily discarded for predators
to consume with no elaborate attempts to purify or preserve it,
echoing the wisdom of the surrounding wild and landscape.
Yet further north stand the grandest testaments to belief in the
afterlife; for the ancient Egyptians both - life and death - were
oriented towards a singular moment - judgment in
the Halls of Maat.
Unlike the Maasai who find immortality here on Earth, the ancient
Egyptians found their moment of heroic triumph on the other side of
On the Egyptian landscape thus, tombs stand much
higher than any home or hearth.
Further still, in other traditions death is viewed not just as a
singular event at the tail end of our lives, but as an integral
aspect of the journey itself. Two sides to the same coin, life and
death are celebrated as the polarities that our experiences play out
between. The ancient Greeks honored this continuous cycle of life
and death in the myth of Persephone, bowing to the seasons as a
movement between the two.
Pagan traditions - old and new - see this eternal
balance in every moment - drawn out between masculine and feminine
To the Pagan mind both - life and death - are always
in co-existence, and therefore rebirth is the natural order of
things; immortality here is not a lofty ambition, but an inherent
character of the organic.
Scour through pretty much any context and way of life, and its
relationship with death and immortality offers keen insight into its
way of being. Whether it presents the kernel of immortality within
life or beyond it, every system seems to offer a chance at
continuity long after we have breathed our last.
Is our continuity then, a simple human fantasy or
indeed a universal truth that reverberates across space and time?
The Power In First-Hand
As a rule of thumb, I feel we all learn best from first-hand
Words and visions inspire, but it is active
engagement that gives shape to our ideas, beliefs and Truth. When it
comes to questions of life, death and the possibilities beyond it,
the answers once again lie in our every day - in the ordinary and
the extraordinary it presents.
My every day brought me a steady stream of apparitions, psychic
visions and encounters with the unseen - voluntary and involuntary.
As a professional intuitive and medium, I could
relate one account after another, and argue the evidence it
presents. But moving through my every day, I have also come to
realize that whether or not one believes or experiences the
afterlife, the wisdom on offer is eternally and universally
Why? Because death isn't just some distant
possibility; it is an equal reality in every breath and every
moment, in everyday life.
No, the exceptionally chatty spirit of my deceased granny did not
come and whisper secrets into my ear, nor did I discover them
through a fateful flash of Zeus' thunderbolt.
These insights are held in even the most mundane that
plays out right before us; touching the unseen just offered me an
opportunity to pause, observe and reflect.
Here is a little of what I discovered:
Death requisites humility
We fear death because we cannot work out how
to control it; our mind and ego are at a loss when trying to
factor death into our grand ambitions and deftly laid out
But this is precisely why we must revere it,
weaving an awareness of it into every action and intention.
You see, it is the grand mysteries that put our infinite
dreams into context, and as a definite unpredictable, death
is the grandest of them all!
Understanding our quest for continuity and
how it can be achieved this side of death or the other,
allows us to invest our time more wisely.
Every moment we are reborn
Every moment holds within it the dual
possibilities of both life and death; it is our choice which
we focus on and experience.
Just like a seed that must die to birth a
plant, we too are constantly evolving - part of us dies as
another aspect takes birth. You could experience this at a
metaphoric level as you reinvent yourself, or physically
witness it as your body births new cells and discards the
Do not turn away from dying; no experience is
complete or decision is truly informed without it.
Death is a frank advisor
The trickiest part of integrating a
relationship with death and immortality, into our way of
being, is the reality check it brings.
Facing up to the possibility of an ending -
to our dearest endeavors or to our self - calls for courage
and bare honesty. Looking into the face of death we glimpse
not just the risk and pain at stake, but our deepest fears
But this is the moment of the hero, for on
the other side of it lies the triumph and immortality we so
deeply yearn for.
If you really want some frank insight,
consider all you seek dying and you shall not only learn
much from it, but also find the motivation to choose and
To truly live you must first truly die
Do not fight death ungraciously - not all is
lost in endings.
Nature and energy moves in cycles, and what
was once lost is sure to be discovered again with new vigor
and joy. We tend to spend so much of our time holding on to
what is, resisting the Reaper's onslaught, that we slow down
the rhythms and pace of our own lives.
There is glory in standing up to death, yes;
but if you move through it, do so in grace, knowing that
continuity is at the core of creation.
Look closely and you will uncover the wisdom of
death in all life, and the promise of life in all deaths.
"Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently
detached so he is capable of abandoning himself to anything.
Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he
can't deny himself anything.
A man of that sort, however, does not crave, for
he has acquired a silent lust for life and for all things of
Don Juan Matus,
A Separate Reality