COMPREHENSION OF DEATH AND IMMORTALITY 7
Comprehensionof Death and Immortality
Comprehensionof Death and Immortality
Central Themes of Death and Culture
Themovie “Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality” refers to adocumentary that carries out an investigation of the connection orlink between the fear of mortality and the subconscious influencespertaining to the same. Indeed, this film sees anxiety regardingdeath as a likely cause of a large number of human behaviors on acultural, spiritual and psychological level. It primarily aims atexploring the relationship between humans and with death, and drawsheavy influence from the perceptions of cultural and socialpsychologists.
Fromthis film and other literary works, it is evident that one of thecentral features of death is the fright from death and the persistentquest of human beings to protect themselves from ideas pertaining todeath. Indeed, Earnest Becker, in his book called “The Denial ofDeath” underlines the notion that one of the key or fundamentalforces in the collective and individual human behavior revolvesaround the necessity of protecting themselves against the continuousconscious awareness pertaining to the fact that they ate mortalcreatures that have the common destiny of death (Becker,2011).Indeed, Becker notes that vast amounts of collective (political andcultural) and individual (psychic) energy is always dedicated towardsthe construction of monuments, as well as actions that prove onphysical and, particularly symbolic, levels that human beings arealways undertaking the vital pageant of action on a cosmos that haseternal and considerable meaning to them. Further, every culturalgroup or society is structured in an effort to sustain this belief’splausibility (Becker,2011).Ernest states that in instances where a person or a group of peoplebegin doubting this belief pertaining to themselves, rational actionwould start breaking down to discernible depression patterns andmanic frenzy. In propagating this theory, the movie underlined thefact that subtle reminders pertaining to one’s mortality onsubconscious levels motivates individuals to demonstrate biasedtendencies including the gravitation to individuals that they see ashaving similar cultures, as well as possessing negative judgments andattitudes to those that they see as dissimilar to them.
Similarsentiments are propagated by Firestone and Catlett in their book“BeyondDeath Anxiety: AchievingLife-Affirming Death Awareness”,who opine that this anxiety and the many defenses that people putkeep them from attaining personal fulfillment. Indeed, this anxietyhas varied destructive consequences such as depression, introversion,as well as withdrawal from life (Firestone&Catlett, 2009). In essence, they opine that individuals must take up techniques thatallow them to cope directly with the fears and anxieties, techniquesthat would, essentially, would result in enhanced freedom,satisfaction and an increase in the appreciation for the gift of life(Firestone&Catlett, 2009).
Undertaking and the Comprehension of Death
ThomasLynch’s book “Undertaking” primarily explores the business, aswell as the philosophical opinions of a funeral director. The bookcauses the readers to undertake serious thinking of death and themanner in which particular cultures deal with the dead bodies in away that incorporates humanistic decorum and deliberation.
Oneof the most vivid chapters pertaining in the book is the first onetitled “The Undertaking”, which explores human being’s concernwith the remains of members of their species. The book, however,makes quite some fundamental points.
First,Lynch holds the expressive belief that what happens to anindividual’s body after his or her death is inconsequential orimmaterial to him or her. Indeed, funerals are of no importance tothe dead as they are already beyond the earthly concerns. Lynchpersistently reiterates that the “dead do not care” about thethings that are done or not done to them. However, this does not meanthat funerals are not important (Lynch,1997).Indeed, Lunch underlines in a convincing manner that funerals and theaccompanying ceremonies provide an opportunity to the living lovedones of the deceased to accept and come to terms with the collectivefact or entirety of death.
Oneof the most interesting thing is the concept of death as postulatedby Lynch. He particularly draws on the concept of the body partsafter death. During the preparation of the body, it is common forindividuals to be washed, have their hair made and eyes and mouthclosed and nails cut. This setting of features, however perfect,would never make them look the way they were when the individual wasalive and capable of smiling, focusing, opening and closing,signaling and passing particular message (Lynch,1997).Death, therefore, implies that the varied features of the individualsunderline the fact that they would not be doing these activities everagain. On the same note, everything that the dead possess at thattime would have only by the faith of the living. Lynch notes that themeaning of an individual’s life, as well as any memories pertainingto him or her would belong to the living as is the case with theirfunerals. Death means that the person has ceased to be what he or shewas in the past and become an idea of himself or herself, past tenseand a lasting fixture pertaining to the third person that he or shewill always be. Death would only be comprehended by the fact that theindividual would not be in places where he or she previously used tofrequent or even do the things that he or she used to do when alive(Lynch,1997).This would imply that individuals may, in fact, die on their lovedones long before they actually lose their lives or breath their lastif they cease to play the roles that defined their lives or were partof their lives.
Buddhism and the Concept of Life after Death
Theconcept of life after death is one of the most fundamental aspects ofany religion. Indeed, it is always expected that any worthy religionwould explain what happens to individuals once they die. This is thecase for Buddhism. Buddhists believe that all people will eventuallypass away as a component of the natural process that involves birth,growth into old age and death. This means that individuals mustalways have in mind the temporary nature of life.
Buddhists,however, do not believe that life ends with death. Instead, theyopine that death merely marks the end of the body that people have inthis life, while their spirit or soul remains and look, via the needfor attachment, a new body, as well as a new life to which it canattach itself. Of particular note, however, is the belief thatBuddhism propagates regarding the choice of boy to which a spiritattaches itself after its death or end of one life. Indeed, Buddhistsnote that the places where individuals would be born are a functionof the past, as well as the accumulation of negative and positiveactions. They opine that the resultant or subsequent karma (cause andeffect) is a function of an individual’s actions in the past life.This element of being born and reborn in a new state is referred toas reincarnation. An individual may be born into one of the sixrealms including hell, animal, hungry ghost, asura, human beings oreven heaven depending on his or her actions in the previous life. Ofparticular note is the fact that these states or realms are in anascending order, and the increasing purity or righteousness of theactions of an individual would make him or her viable for the nextrealm. However, none of these places or realms are permanent and anindividual would not remain at a particular realm indefinitely.Nevertheless, Buddhists opine that individuals are persistentlyreborn in this world until they attain freedom or liberation fromsamsara. Samsara, in which case, refers to the persistent process ofbirth and death, as well as rebirth. An individual would be free fromsamsara in instances where he or she gets to or reaches nirvana. Thisnirvana underlines a state of mine where individuals eliminate alldesires that promote selfish attitudes like hatred and greed, as wellas the idea that every thin in life remains the same. Holding ontothese aspects would only be testament to the fact that an individualis still within the samsaric cycle.
Becker,E. (2011). Thedenial of death.London: Souvenir Press.
Firestone,R., & Catlett, J. (2009). Beyonddeath anxiety: Achieving life-affirming death awareness.New York: Springer Pub. Co.
Lynch,T. (1997). Theundertaking: Life studies from the dismal trade.New York: W.W. Norton.