Why did Prince Siddhartha, who was raised in a luxurious palace with all the pleasures of life, decide to renounce the world and become Buddha? The story goes that one day Siddhartha slipped beyond his palace gates with a guard and went to town. On his way he saw an old beggar, a group of lepers and a funeral procession. Ignorant to life’s realities till now, Siddhartha inquired his guard about what is it that he has seen. Guard told Siddhartha all the men he saw today, the condition they were in — misery, sickness and ultimately death, are the realities of life. It is death which actually moved Siddhartha so much, that he renounced the world and went out on the quest of enlightenment — something that is above mundane.
‘I can totally die for it.’ This must be one of the most common phrases we use to show that we admire something a lot. I myself must have uttered it trillion times. But when I think of death, actual death, it’s only shivers down my spine. In most of the cultures, it’s inauspicious to talk about death. Even a slight joke about it is not appreciated. At family gatherings, a mere mention of the word leads to silence.
However haunting death might be, it’s often misunderstood. Death is after all just a process — an inevitable process. All things that breathe have to eventually die. The sooner we’ll come to grips with the truth, the better it’ll be for us. But we often are so reluctant to accept this reality that we keep on going about our lives as we’ll exist forever. The best thing to do is to take a look at death from a different perspective. Because that will help us in understanding life. Here are the perspectives of some well-known historical figures.
1. All say, “How hard it is that we have to die”-a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live. ~Mark Twain
2. After the first death, there is no other. ~Dylan Thomas
3. Death is the veil which those who live call life; they sleep, and it is lifted. ~Shelley
4. For certain is death for the born, and certain is birth for the dead;
Therefore over the inevitable, thou shouldst not grief. ~Bhagavad-Gita
5. Death either destroys us or unmasks us. If it means liberation, better things await us when our burden is gone; if destruction, nothing at all awaits us, blessings and curses are abolished. ~Seneca
6. Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the sea; they live in one another still. ~William Penn
7. As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death. ~Leonardo da Vinci
Death, for sure, in some ways is like waiting for Godot. We don’t know what will lie ahead but we still wait. Live your life as much as you can. So that when you die there’s left nothing that you regret. And reading what others feel about death can help by giving you a fresh and positive outlook on not just death, but also life.