The Culture that Denies Death

The biggest fear I think people have is the fear of death. In many ways we live in a culture that denies death. Everything around you is designed to keep death at bay. We glitz up our world and cover up the moribund reality that lies beneath all things. It’s like we think if we defend ourselves enough maybe we can defeat death. Of course we know secretly we can’t, so we also invite death in. Hence all the supposed terrors we spoke about in How safe do you feel? take on a very real and menacing threat. What if I’m attacked, what if I get sick, what if I end up broke - what if . . . what if . . . what if . . . the heart starts racing.

To cover up this fear we have created a culture of the body, a spurious physical immortality. Enter cosmetic surgery, the face lift, the tummy tuck; welcome to the Botox generation. Beauty is defined by the society that created it, and usually it’s about the shape you are; tall for the gentlemen, skinny for the ladies. This even extends to the things we own. What kind of gas guzzler do you drive? Size does matter you know! Now there’s nothing wrong with success, or looking good, but we place such an emphasis on the body it’s as if the spirit is merely an adjunct.

Here’s looking at you kid!

This new culture is channelled through a fairly aggressive promotion of all things juvenile. What is the furthest thing from death and decay? Youth of course. It is the perfect foil to death. Our society has become, of necessity, puerile. If we focus enough on being young and beautiful then surely we will never die.

Won’t we?

Even corpses are dressed up, embalmed and given a make-over so as to look like they’re merely sleeping. We use euphemisms like ‘passed over’ when talking about death. We extol the virtues of any septuagenarian who is still able to run a marathon and do fifty press-ups before
breakfast. Would he be just as worthy if he couldn’t?

I’ve seen the future . . . it is murder

All medical science is geared today to making us live longer. In the not too distant future you will be able to download all your thoughts and experiences into a computer to be retained in an acetylene solution. There you will spend eternity in a glass case believing that you’re still moving around, living out those experiences. Your great-great-great-great grand children can even come to visit you. Sounds morbid? Like something out of Stephen King even. But apparently you won’t be able to tell the difference between that and actual reality!

The interesting thing I find about this new ‘virtual reality’ is that it uncannily mirrors our present one, after all the experiences you’re having right now are taking place inside your brain and not in some out ‘there’. All movement is probably only an illusion too. All it does is take us further into the dream, creating a ‘permanent’ dream within a dream. Is there any chance of waking up from this state?

And suppose someone were to pull the plug? Horrified, are you?

Well, what if you are already in this state?

Would you know?

It’s the quality, not the quantity that counts

Previous generations grew old naturally, but not so any more. Before people were less afraid of death and more afraid of what came after it. That meant they traded living now in the hope of some putative ‘Hereafter’ (a very strange term if ever there was one). It kind of meant your life begun the moment you died. Their big fear was of a God always out to punish them. Today the fear of God is more unconscious, yet it is still present. In the past they accepted being ruled by an omnipotent being who had these weird and totally arbitrary set of rules; the thing to do was to stay on the right side of him. See God and the Myth we created of the Parent Today we pretend to be liberated from God, to be smarter than our ancestors, unshackled by the chains of superstition.

Is death the ultimate failure ?

Our culture has defined death as a failure, this is why it attempts to hide it and call it by another name and indulge in a celebration of brash youth. Come to think of it, it can’t do anything else, death is the inevitable and single end point of a body-centred ideology.

And this is true of religion as much as any atheistic philosophy. In some ways the christian is concerned with nothing but the body. His view of the afterlife is one where everyone will rise again on the 'last day' in the body they had in this life. Whether you like it or not you’re stuck with this thing! He believes in a hierarchical structure where everyone will have their proper place in heaven, maybe the clergy will get the best seats, and so on. His is a materialistic and fleshly heaven (while at the same time denying the flesh!) How curious.

I have an uncle in a nursing home and he worries there won’t be enough room for everybody in heaven (sad) considering the population of the world since the beginning of time. It is really pathetic that this trash has been taught in the name of Jesus and has become a form of suffering for so many people.

Now here’s the rub!

Funny thing is death doesn’t really exist, but by trying to push it away and cover it up we’re making it real. Death is really a kind of transition, a change from one state to another. There are hundreds of documented cases of people who died briefly and described feelings of supreme peacefulness, being totally loved and complete. Very often there was a guide or angel there to help them, and this guide would tell them they must return to earth because it wasn’t their time to move on yet. You see we chose to express life in a physical form, for whatever reason, maybe because there are things we have to learn. But life in the body should not be measured by the length of time you're in it. Your life here isn’t a punishment, neither is it permanent.

It’s not something you need to cling to because life isn’t something you can ever lose.

Don’t knock the body either!

Now there’s nothing wrong with the body. Let’s be perfectly clear on that one. In the past we also denied the body by calling it sinful, and this is what led to the present impasse, the idolization of it, if you like. ACIM tells us that the body is neither good nor bad, simply neutral. It is created by the mind and does the mind’s bidding. Therefore, you can recreate your body or create a new one any time you choose.

This takes us to the subject of reincarnation. A subject precariously received by the western mind, which either thinks, ‘I was Napoleon in my last life’ (why?) or, ‘I’ll be rich and famous the next time and living the life I really should be living now’. Well, no, you won’t! Not unless you live it now. Really there is no ‘next time’, just a continuous now where it may appear as if you take on a different form and have new experiences.

Be not afraid. Death is not the enemy

It is not true that death is a failure. But while we continue thinking that we will go on denying death, and conversely go on making it real. For the thing we suppress in life is what we manifest. And while we do this we will continue to crave the sublimation of youth or some other fantasy for it. Death is not something we should fear. Why?

Because love is stronger than death.

Don’t worry if you see bodies passing away. Like the seasons they’ll come round again. There is a reality beyond the body, beyond what our physical eyes can see and our hands can manipulate. And there are many ways of leaving the body besides through the portals of death.

Is it possible to take your body with you when you leave this earth? Many of the great yogis and enlightened masters appeared to have done precisely that, perhaps to teach us that it’s possible, I don’t know. Trust me they don’t use them where they are. Living in the mind of God, which is our true home, is to have no limits at all, therefore if you want you can still have your body, although you will hardly need it.

Love your body, take care of it, and when it is time gently let it go.

Return from fear to home page.

There is a voice that doesn’t use words - listen!


Reality is merely an illusion - albeit a persistent one.

Albert Einstein