Our fear of our mortality is a pointer to our immortality
The fear of death is one of life’s most haunting fears. Intriguingly, this haunting fear can become illuminating if we turn the usual question raised by death on its head: instead of asking “Why do I have to die?” ask “Why do I want to live forever?”
This question is reasonable because we live in a world where nothing lasts forever – even massive skyscrapers and gigantic mountains that seem unshakeable are subject to destruction. This reasonable question baffles today’s prevalent belief system, materialism, which holds that we – our sense of identity and personality – are just products of matter. When the things around us and even the things that make our bodies are all destructible, then how did the matter that is me develop the longing for immortality?
That longing, Gita wisdom explains, comes from something beyond matter – the soul within, whose presence in the body is the cause of life and whose departure comprises death. The Bhagavad-gita (02.21) assures that when we realize the indestructible nature of the soul, we learn to see our present notion of death as an illusion – death happens to our external shell, never to us.
Due to illusion, we misidentify with our body and project on it the longings that are natural to the soul. That’s why though the body is unavoidably destructible, we still long for indestructible existence. And we shudder at the prospect of imminent bodily destruction, mistaking it to be destruction of our very self.
Thus our fear of mortality is a pointer to our immortality – because we are by our spiritual nature immortal, we fear the unnatural state of mortality that our bodily misidentification has imposed on us.
By practicing yoga, especially bhakti-yoga, as the Gita recommends, we can realize our spiritual immortality and transcend the fear of death.
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