Monday, 26 April 2010

Shrinks, theologians, the devil and the death clock

Most consider death to be a morbid thought. Yet, death is an inevitable fact of life. Everything must die. Humans, animals, plants, even inanimate objects like planes, trains and automobiles perish sometime.

Death may be a precursor to a new beginning. Dead plants fertilize the soil for more crops. Creatures that died thousands of years ago are today's fossil fuels. For humans, the monotheistic religions certainly propagate some form of afterlife.
At least the monotheistic religious traditions attempt to instil a fear of God, often through anxieties over death.
While it is impossible to verify any claims about a human soul's post death condition, one can certainly opine about the philosophy of death. One does not need to be noted Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to have opinions on death and dying!
Theologians and hedonists argue that humans must live to the fullest. However, their viewpoints are diametrically opposed in methods to achieve the same objective. 
Theologians suggest a full life must be devoted to God by indulging in a faith based regime which purports to keep us away from evil behaviour. Hedonists tend to see life as an equation in which 'pleasure minus pain equal happiness.'
Both philosophies have one idea in common: we live each day as if it is our final day on this earth. And, that is why an individual's philosophy of death provides qualitative insights into character.
Will someone go out partying during their last night on earth or will they seek penance and repentance in prayer out of fear? Perhaps just eat the proverbial last meal and then a restful night of sleep to enter the afterlife?
The permutations are as endless as personalities on the planet.
I only hope that when it's my turn I am not filled with fear. I can't hide my history from my own self. For my acts of omission and commission, I am accountable to at least myself. The rest may not be irrelevant but should take care of itself.
If my conscience is clean I can have that last night of restful sleep, uninterrupted by demons and wizards. No valium capsules necessary.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross sounds eerily close to Muslim theologian Al-Ghazzali when she said, "It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth - and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had."

The sceptics may wish to visit the Death Clock to check their estimated time of departure. Additionally, as the Irish toast goes:
May you have love and raiment
And a soft pillow for your head
And may you spend forty years in heaven
Before the devil knows you're dead.

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