In the first article in the series we have explored the perspective that each and every fear that we have can be ultimately traced to a fear of death, and that it is caused by our conditioning from our upbringing and our societal norms and expectations. In this article I'd like to delve deeper into the psyche so that we can explore ways of overcoming our conditioning and our fear of death.
Fear of Loosing 'Who We Are'
This is a very simplified model of a random person within society. Yet taking a closer look, we can clearly see the things we may identify with in our lives, how there can be smaller identities within them, and how they can be connected. We can also see that there are two types of identity:
All of these identities have been built up through a desire to know who we are. So, the question is who are we in all of this? Does being a Nurse, a Tennis player, a parent and a lover define who I am? Or are they simply outer scenarios in which we can express our characteristics: love, playfulness, caring, creativity. Are even these characteristics a definition of who we are? What happens when I don't feel playful or caring? Am I not me then?
It is not easy to let let go of identity, but seeing that you are identified and that the object, person or situation of identity doesn't actually define you is the first and most powerful step.
A Neuro-scientific viewpoint
Check out these two articles by Olivia Goldhill. They show us how the Buddhist perspective of ever-changing self can be linked to Neuroscientific research and that our personalities change over the course of our lives. What is interesting about this second study is that most of the research out there suggests that personality is fairly stable. However, they have all been conducted up to middle age, and this study went all the way from ages 14-77. It suggest that the bigger changes in personality begin to happen after middle age. Of course this is the period in our lives when we will have to say goodbye to many of the people, objects and situations that we have identified with. It shows how losing these things can affect who we are. We may become different people as the things that we hold dear get ripped away from us.
"People use the language of death and grief and loss whether they're talking about failing a class, breaking up with somebody, getting a scary diagnosis or burying a loved one"
- Jeanine Staples
How does embracing death all fit into this? Well, you see death is just a concept. Yes, we have our final deaths, there's no avoiding that, but we can embrace the concept of death by embracing every little death that we die along the way. In this way we don't cling, we don't become misers and we drink in the fullness, the richness of the moment, whatever that may be. Even during times of great pain or misery, there is an underlying peace, like an easiness because you are simply going with the flow.
In the 3rd article in the series 'Overcoming Fear by Embracing Death' we will look at the two opposing flows of unity and uniqueness and how these can either lead to attachment and clinging or to great inner peace and magical manifestations.
My name is Richard. I love to write, and here you can find my general musings, observations and articles. Enjoy!
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