On Death

  1.          It is not death that one should fear.
    One should fear never beginning to live.                ~Marcus Aurelius

  2.          In this world
    nothing can be said to be certain,
    except death and taxes.                                      ~Benjamin Franklin

  3.         When the day's work is ended,
    night brings the blessings of sleep.
    So too, death is the ending of a larger day
    and, in the night that follows,
    every person finds rest until, of one's own volition,
    one returns to fresh endeavor and to labors anew.
    So has it been with this our friend,
    so will it be for all of us.                                        ~Buddhist funeral service

  4.       Death is never far away in one's eighth decade of life, and going quickly isn't that bad.
    The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson said it gently:
    "God's finger touched him and he slept." No heavy pain, no long goodbyes.
                                                                                 ~Alfred Tennyson

  5.         To anyone who listened to us, we are prepared to maintain
    that death is the necessary outcome of life.
    In reality, however, we show an unmistakable tendency
    to put death to one side, to eliminate it from life.
    The complement to this cultural and conventional attitude towards death
    is provided by our complete collapse
    when death has struck down someone whom we love.       ~Freud, Sigmund

  6.         Death on a grand scale does not bother us.
    We can sit around a dinner table and discuss war,
    involving sixty million volatilized human deaths,
    as though we were talking about bad weather;
    we can watch abrupt bloody death every day,
    in color, on films and television, without blinking back a tear.
    It is when the numbers of dead are very small, and very close,
    that we begin to think in scurrying circles.
    At the very center of the problem
    is the pending naked coldness of one's own self,
    the only reality in nature of which we can have absolute certainty,
    and it is unmentionable, unthinkable.                                                   ~Thomas, Lewis

  7.       Death is not just a matter of fact, 
    like what doctors are trained to feel;
    it is a matter of Fate, intimately connected with life.

    Normally, in a patientís final hours, doctors close the curtain around the bed and disappear, 
    leaving family members alone with their dying relative. But one doctor, trying to console an elderly woman whose husband is dying, 
    stayed with her by the side of the bed. As she holds her husbandís hand, he tells her what the strange sights and sounds on the monitors are saying, 
    and what her husband is experiencing as life ebbs away. That scene of compassion and communication, in the midst of high-tech beepings and buzzings, 
    shows what doctors can do when nothing can be done.

  8.         To wish to see the dearest ones as long as possible in the flesh 
    is a selfish desire and it comes out of weakness or want of faith 
    in the survival of the soul after dissolution of the body...
    The more I observe and study things, the more convinced I become
    that sorrow over separation and death is perhaps the greatest delusion.
    To realize that it is a delusion is to become free.
    There is no death, no separation of the real substance.
    And yet the tragedy of it is that although we love friends 
    for the substance we recognize in them,
    we deplore the destruction of the insubstantial 
    that covers the substance, for the time being.             ~Mahatma Gandhi

  9.         Everyone who is being overtaken by death asks for more time,
    while everyone who still has time makes excuses for procrastination!          ~Hadrat Ali

  10.         No man is an island, entirely of himself;
    every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less,
    as well as if a promontory were,
    as well as if a manor of thy friends
    or of thine own were.
    Any man's death diminishes me,
    because I am involved in mankind;
    and therefore, 
    never send to know
    for whom the bell tolls; --
    it tolls for thee.                                  John Donne         

In his 'Meditations' John Donne wrote further:

  1. Tribulation is Treasure in the nature of it, 
    but it is not current money in the use of it, 
    except we get nearer and nearer our home - Heaven, by it. 
    Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, 
    and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, 
    and be of no use to him; 
    but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, 
    digs out, and applies that gold to me; 
    if by this consideration of another's danger, 
    I take my own into contemplation, and so secure my self, 
    by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

    Now, this Bell tolling softly for another, 
    said to me, Thou must die

  2.         Premature death may come as a result of sickness;
    but, like birth, death as such is not a sickness at all.
    It is the natural and necessary end of human life,
    as natural as leaves falling in the autumn.
    Physicians should therefore,
    explore the possibility of treating death and its pangs
    as they have treated labor and its 'pains'.
    Death is, after all, a great event.
    So long as it is not imminent,
    we cling to ourselves and our lives
    in chronic anxiety pushed into the back of the mind.
    But when the time comes
    when clinging is no longer of the least avail,
    the circumstances are ideal for letting go of oneself completely.
    When this happens,
    the individual is released from his ego-prison.
    In the normal course of events this is the golden opportunity
    for awakening into the knowledge
    that one's actual self is the Self which plays the universe,
    an occasion for great rejoicing.                                     ~Alan B. Watts

  3.       How does one find out about this strange thing that we all have to meet one day or another? 
    Can you die psychologically today, die to everything that you have known? For instance: 
    to die to your pleasure, to your attachment, your dependence, to end it without arguing, without rationalizing, 
    without trying to find ways and means of avoiding it. Do you know what it means to die, not physically, 
    but psychologically, inwardly? Which means to put an end to that which has continuity; to put an end to your ambition, 
    because thatís whatís going to happen when you die, isnít it? You canít carry it over and sit next to God! 

  4.       When you actually die, you have to end so many things without any argument. You canít say to death: 
    "Let me finish my job, let me finish my book, all the things I have not done, let me heal the hurts which I have given others" 
    ó you have no time. So can you find out how to live a life now, today, in which there is always an ending to everything that you began? 
    Not in your office of course, but inwardly to end all the knowledge that you have gathered ó knowledge being your experiences, 
    your memories, your hurts, the comparative way of living, comparing yourself always with somebody else. To end all that every day, 
    so that the next day your mind is fresh and young. Such a mind can never be hurt, and that is innocence.
    One has to find out for oneself what it means to die; then there is no fear, therefore every day is a new day 
    ó and I really mean this, one can do this ó so that your mind and your eyes see life as something totally new. 
    That is eternity. That is the quality of the mind that has come upon this timeless state, because it has known 
    what it means to die every day to everything it has collected during the day.                                          ~J Krishnamurti

  5.      There's no cure for birth and death
    save to enjoy the interval.                          ~George Santayana

  6.     This is the turning of life's wheel--one of those constants that unites all of us as the fragile yet surprisingly strong human beings that we are. 
    The one thing that connects us--presidents, celebrities, waitresses, office workers, homeless people --is our mortality. 
    It's the winding down of years, the inevitability we can't get away from, no matter what we do, or how much money we have, 
    or how famous we might be. It's a parent getting older, changing before our eyes, slipping and falling, slipping away from us in other ways, 
    leaving us to wonder how the years could have gone by so fast, how we could have been so reckless with time, with words, with our hearts. 
    ~ Patti Davis, daughter of President Reagan

  7.      Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
    Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
    Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
    The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

    For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
    Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
    No children run to lisp their sire's return,
    Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share

    Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
    Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
    Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
    The short and simple annals of the Poor.

    The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
    And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
    Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:-
    The paths of glory lead but to the grave.