When Buddha was on his death bed he noticed his young disciple Anan was weeping.
‘Why are you weeping, Anan?’ he asked.
‘Because the light of the world is about to be extinguished and we will be in darkness.’
The Buddha summoned up all his remaining energy and spoke what were to be his final words on earth:
‘Anan, Anan, be a light unto yourself.’
Death is a natural part of life- something we must all face. Of course, this doesn’t make it easier. But, if we don’t learn to face our fear and conquer it, we are destined to let it hang over our heads, showing up when we least expect it.
And since death will follow us wherever we go, isn’t it better to meet our fears now rather than later?
Thich Nhat Hanh has an amazing visualization in this video that breaks down the question of death in very simplistic terms:
Imagine a white puffy cloud in the sky. Later on, when it starts to rain, you don’t necessarily see the same cloud. It’s not there. But the real truth is that the cloud is in the rain. It’s impossible for a cloud to die. It can become rain, snow, ice, or a multitude of forms…but a cloud cannot be nothing.
This is analogous to death; when we die, we are simply shifting states of being. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everything ends…it just means there is a new reality to partake in.
There is a continuation for everything.
When you can remove the notion that there is such a thing as the “end” of life or anything else in the world, then you will understand what it means to accept death and move beyond the fear of it.
Life is an up and down roller coaster…it’s up to us to find stability among the craziness.