I like remembering Death and Grief wisdom together and not being alone in this area.
In the past few days, a post has been prepared including extracts from my article titled "The Only Thing that Life Could Tell Clearly" published in HTHayat, in the instagram account of our Grief and Death Wisdom platform. Afterwards, I have decided to write this article getting inspired by a conversation between a follower of ours, Özlem Yasal, who is also a literature teacher. I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to her for her contribution.
Death is a phenomenon happening naturally, one whose time we cannot choose unless we decide to end our life. You see, the reflection of its state of existence in its own time to language, excludes it from action verbs. That is, it is not correct to consider it as an action according to grammer rules. In this context, act of dying is not a correct usage.
Still and all, though language reminds us of the naturalness of death gracefully,the collective repertory whispered to our ears in this era tells us quite the opposite. Death is a taboo. It is a topic avoided, not talked about, and the ones who talk about it are considered weird. We are living in an era when we resist even when our time has come and when we decline the naturalness the language offers us and borrow the words like struggling with death, fighting with disease instead. Not ageing, and thus, not dying are the slogans of the 21st century and these slogans are repeated aloud everywhere particularly in hospital corridors. We might consider the things that are repeated continuously as our normal. That is what mostly happens anyway. We experience the deprivation of the state of completely accepting life which death is also a part of in an order even the ones who are about to die refrain from saying they are dying.
Life has a foundation just like a building. The risk of early collapse of a building whose foundations are not solid is high. Similarly, the lack of rising main on which life rises poses a threat for us living in it. The deprivation I talk about is the denial of death though it is not only restricted to this. We try to build our personal lives we construct without the coloumn, the backbone of the structure. We live as if death did not exist.
In Buddhism, the pain we suffer while dying is mentioned, but this is not a physical pain. The pain which is meant is the trauma we experience because we leave all the things we know and our habits behind. In short, we do not want to leave our body, our beloved ones, and our habits; however, being obliged to do this causes an intolerably enormous level of suffering. In a related training, two practical suggestions were made for getting aware of and quitting our addictions. The first one was that we were asked to leave one thing we value every day and get aware of our feelings. In my own practice, for every personal item of mine, I realized how I am dependent on the story between the item and me,that is, my past, not the item itself. The second suggestion was an exercise they called unlimited generosity. We would again practice the leaving exercise, but it would be our minds clinging to the world, not our items. We were asked to feel mountains, seas, forests or oceans, that is, natural wonders bigger than we are, in our bodies pretending that we were in those places, and then, think that we leave all of these to the universe, the world, or a God if we believe in one. Thinking in a dimension not belonging to me and beyond my personal reality made me realize my state of being in the center of my small world and my dependence on this. Our trainer in the training said: “ Stay firm, observe and let it pass. Do not cling to what you realize.”
Why did I tell this? Buddist priest Yongey Mingyur admits in his book In Love with the World, written in 2019, that although he grew up in a house where death was discussed comfortably and he received an education in which the concept of temporariness was the main theme, he never thought that he would get ill and die, too.When he realized he was near death as a result of the progression of his disease, he started to do his practices putting his heart in it in order not to go through the pain indicated in Buddism. Death is highlighted in all ancient wisdoms or religions. Some exercises are suggested.The reason for this is that no matter how naturally and spontaneously death comes, the pain we will feel when it touches us (in the state I have mentioned above) is possible. Ancient wisdoms foresee this and invite us to work on this issue and contemplate, that is, make effort beforehand. Especially for the ones like us who live in this century, transfer death to hospitals viewing death more like a medical process, and in a period when social support is denied, and in brief, people trying not to die, dying is really a remarkable act.
Dying, especially in the era we live in, is an action verb.
Our eternal friend, language, makes a reminder to enable us to go through this period calmly. It invites us to have some wisdom in today’s world where all kinds of action verbs are transformed into a ratrace and to-do lists. It reminds us the only unchanging reality of life and says: “Death is not from action, but from being”.