Perspectives on Death

"Happiness needs unhappiness.

Joy goes hand in hand with sorrow.

It is thanks to the shadow that we exist.

We must not dream of an absurd abstraction.

We must guard the bond that links us blood to earth.

We are a great mixture.

We are more than we believe."

Henri Barbusse

In the case of sickness (physical, mental, or social) or other such needs for regeneration or restoration, symbolic burial can be the equivalent of baptismal regeneration and its appeal to rebirth symbolisms.

Breaches in the moral, ethic, or social order can be mended in the earth.

"... a Scandinavian belief a witch can be saved from eternal damnation if she is buried alive, seed is sown over her and the resulting crop harvested." - Mircea Eliade

Initiation rites among many indigenous tribes include some sort of burial from whence a "new man" emerges.

Why Covid-19 Is a “Strange Pandemic”

Mictlantecuhtli, Hades, Pluto, Thanatos, Mot

Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death

(Don't Fear) The Reaper

"In the Civil War the United States, North and South, reaped what many participants described as a "harvest of death."

Death transformed the American nation.

Citizen soldiers snatched from the midst of life generated obligations for a nation defining its purposes and polity through military struggle.

A war about 'union, citizenship, freedom, and human dignity' required that the government attend to the needs of those who had died in its service.

Execution of these newly recognized responsibilities would prove an important vehicle for the expansion of federal power.

Americans had to identify - find, invent, create - the means and mechanisms to manage more than half a million dead: their deaths, their bodies, their loss.

The work of death was Civil War America's most fundamental and most demanding undertaking. "- Drew Gilpin Faust

Chinese charater for death

welcome to life

Odds of Dying

25 Most Common Causes of Death

0 woe, woe,

People are born and die,

we also shall be dead pretty soon,

let us act as if we were dead already.

Ezra Pound


Euthanasia Program

Suicide is the New Murder in America

Japan Engineers Design Robotic Bear to aid in Assisted Suicide

Obamacare Architect Ezekiel Emanuel: 75 An Ideal Age To Die

Counterpoint: Too Young to Die Brant S. Mittler, MD, JD,
thinks Ezekiel Emanuel is a dangerous man.

You might be working yourself to death


Shokpona - worship icon of smallpox

"We are born with the seed of our own death.

From the moment of birth, we are approaching this inevitable demise.

Then we must also contemplate that the time of our death is uncertain.

Death, striking unannounced, does not wait for us to tidy up our lives.

At the time of our death, friends and family, the precious possessions we have so meticulously collected throughout our lives, are of no value.

Not even this precious body, the vehicle of this lifetime, is of any use.

Avoid extensive preoccupation with the concerns of present life.

Begin to provide the groundwork for a compassionate understanding of how others find it difficult to let go of self-centered concerns." - Tenzin Gyatso

What is the truth?

"I asked my grandfather once if he could tell me what truth was.

"I don't think I've lived long enough to know that," he said, "all I know is that without truth Iktomi, the Trickster, would be the most powerful being."

Having lived more than half a century, I think I'm just beginning to gain some insight into my grandfather's reply.

Truth is often difficult to distinguish.

Truth can be a gift or a burden; it can be kind or cruel.

Truth frequently eludes our grasp and we find it difficult to describe.

Truth can at times hide so well that we can't find it to save ourselves, or it disguises itself so skillfully that we walk all over it without knowing.

In the next instance it becomes plain as day, whether we want it to or not.

In the end we learn we can't live without truth.

"Truth is the marker along the roads we travel in life," my grandfather said.

The Red Road, the good or straight way, has many markers.

If you choose the Black Road, there is only the illusion of truth.

We can be influenced by truth or by illusion.

Two chieftains met on a plain while their two armies waited.

"I have ten thousand warriors, skilled with weapons and seasoned by battle. Victory will be mine," said the first chieftain. "What do you have?"

"Only the truth," replied the second chieftain. "This war has decimated my people so I face you now with an army of children.

This truth will either destroy you or glorify you."

The first chieftain returned to camp, where his army stood ready for battle.

He ordered his army to put aside their weapons while he went into seclusion to ponder the truth his enemy had spoken.

With the new dawn he sent his chief aide with gifts of food and an offer of peace to the army of children.

The chieftain then returned to his homeland and stood to be judged before his countrymen, fully expecting to be dishonored for his weakness.

Instead the people fell down on their knees praising his good sense.

deciding the future

Sometimes truth is like the wind.

Truth is also like sunrise and sunset.

We see the sun come up over the eastern horizon in the morning and then disappear behind the western horizon in the evening.

From the perspective of our existence on a spinning sphere, the sun appears to "rise" and "set."

In reality the sun does neither.

Reality is what is, first and foremost, to be reckoned with on Earth.

Lakota know four seasons cycle in precisely the same order year after year.

Reality is lakes freeze in winter and thaw in the spring.

All living things die, that change is inevitable.

Truth is the result of the trials and errors of life.

"Without evil, goodness would be harder to recognize."

"The first casualty of war is truth."

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Some lessons rise out of the illusions we have acquired.

"Good will always prevail over evil."

Some truth is subjective and subject to change with new understanding.

"Man was not intended to fly."

If there is a universal human weakness it is that we want static answers.

Truth consists of two parts.

That which is given and that which is accepted.

We Lakota have heard Iktomi sing several times.

Fort Laramie Treaty Council of 1851

As thousands upon thousands of white emigrants made their way along the Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon and passed through Lakota territory, the US peace commissioners told us, "They are only passing through and need only as much room as the width of their wagon wheels."

The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

Establishment of the Great Sioux Reservation - the entire western half of the current state of South Dakota - for "as long as the sun shall rise, as long as the rivers shall flow, as long as the grasses shall grow."

We are survivors.

We took on the worst our "conquerors" could throw and are still standing.

The cognitive illusion is that we are part of the past - something to be studied, analyzed, measured, dissected, and ultimately judged.

The truth is we are still a viable culture with traditions, customs, and values.

death in perspective

The idea of death is avoided and most feared by American society.

Death, an American taboo, is the standard against which all is measured.

References to death are made in hushed and apprehensive tones.

Visit a cemetery and confirm the general state of denial about death.

Funeral directors sell coffins to "protect your loved one for ages to come."

Stone or cement crypts and mausoleums are used for the same reason.

Logically, we are at least apprehensive about anything we don't know.

People fear death when they fail to understand the reality of consciousness.

The truth about death is simple. It will happen.

Nothing is more inevitable, no matter how vigorously we deny it or fight it.

We can fight to live, but we will always lose the fight against death.

A profound and reassuring truth about death is that it is a part of life.

Life begins with birth and ends with death.

Death is the great equalizer connecting all living beings.

Iktomi, on the other hand, presents illusion as truth, and always will.

Beware of Iktomi."

adapted from Joseph M. Marshall, Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance

Mark Twain

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