“Tell me who your friends are,” the saying goes, “and I'll tell you who you are.” The company we keep serves as an indication of our inner character.
Similarly, we might say: Tell me what you think of dying and of death, and I'll tell you what you think of life." The way we regard the fact of man's mortality has far-reaching consequences on the way we look at life.
On the whole, Western society prefers to skirt the topic of death whenever possible. Although both death and taxes are considered inevitable, we discuss the latter far more than the former. Modern man prefers to avoid thinking about the end of his days. However, since our attitude to death is so pivotal to the way we choose to live our lives, we would do well to give some time and thought to the topic.
This essay proposes to present the reader with a new insight into man's mortality.
Most of us consider death as a major tragedy for the departed. The soul is separated from the body which housed it for so long and we imagine the pain at the separation from its life-long partner and seeing it stiff and lifeless.
If we consider only the laws of chemistry which affect the body, dying brings with it the beginning of total disintegration. The cadaver will be soon laid to rest in the earth, where it begins to decompose. We picture the soul suffering as a result, and we share its pain. We also assume that the soul can no longer see, hear, feel, or experience our world; the eyes of its body no longer see, and its ears cannot hear our sighs of pain.
However, all this is true only for the person who identified himself as a physical being only. The experience of the individual who, cultivated his soul during his lifetime, is far from tragedy. Rather than a painful separation, his passing is a moment of blessed release and relief. He looks forward to an existence beyond the here and now of the physical world.
A being which understands its essence not as a physical one, but rather as an intangible being, can easily identify with the new world when no longer encased in a body of flesh and blood. It feels comfortable in its new environment. Just as the body was in its element while living in the physical world we know, the soul feels at ease when it finds itself in a world which is purely spiritual.
With physical death, we come to realize that we were mistaken to identify ourselves as purely physical beings. After passing to a new, spiritual world, the soul enjoys a refreshing, pleasant experience in which physical death is no longer threatening or painful. On the contrary, the person's heart is full of joy, like that of someone who finally reaches home after a long separation from his loved ones.