To be a Taoist means many things to many people. To be a practitioner of Contemporary Taoism simply means to have realised that we are all minute parts of an indescribably large Whole (the Tao), and to choose therefore to 'Flow Like Water' and live in a spontaneous, natural manner. This blog is about: Personal Growth / Spiritual Development as guided by the principles of Eastern Philosophy, particularly modern philosophical Taoism; Developing constructive habits and achieving success with minimal effort; Meditation - Taoist, Zen or otherwise. See 'What In Lao Tzu's Name is a Contemporary Taoist?'

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Fear of Fear of Death

The Useless Tree: Curing His "Addiction to Life"

I was Googling for Taoist views on substance abuse and addictions and came across this Taoist blog. We certainly are addicted to life, and while it is easy to pay lip service to the irreverence that the collective Tzu recommend, I personally prefer simply not to think about it. (Please note that this is not by any means an attack on the above blogger's opinions - I am just free-associating.)

By this I don't mean not to think about death, or not to acknowledge my fear of death, but rather not to dwell on my fear of death as being a problem.

Fear of death is natural; dog's fear death. Cats do too, so why should humans be any different?*

I used to think that I had to work to overcome my fear of death. I thought that by meditating long enough and hard enough I would become like the idealised men of the traditional texts who laugh in face of their impending demise.

Poppycock! These men are the stuff of mere legend - you can meditate until you forget you even have a body - but the moment some knife wielding psycho come careering through your window and lunges at your throat - you will fear death.

Or perhaps it is not the death we fear, but the pain of the knife slitting our throats, the discomfort and agony of the cancer slowly eating away at our bodies, the madness and loss of composure that often comes before our deaths - sometimes for years.

I think it perfectly reasonable to feel fear in these situations.

However, I believe that it is unhealthy to obsess over death during life. So my point is: enjoy life in a natural way, without overt concern over one’s impending demise, but release the fear of the fear of death. When your time comes, depending on the situation (you may die peacefully in your sleep or in a slow way whereby you maintain your faculties and repose yourself for the event – I’m not saying that can’t happen) you will feel what it is natural to feel – and this may very well be terror. Why kid yourself?

I could type on for hours about this but it is a broad topic so I will return to it later, possibly to consider the related topics of (what I call) the Christianity Hangover (I’ll explain later) and addictions and/or abuse of substances (a chapter of my life that I am closing the book on right now – or at least turning the page).

*In writing this I am sort of contradicting my own words in the main TCT manifesto, but this is Taoism: embracing paradox.

Flow Like Water...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting. All my life I have had a positive opinion of death (returning to better things). It has taken me 30 years to be comfortable with living and actually feel that maybe I might not want to die. But I have grown to suspect that is just the body's instinct to not want to die. Perhaps I was a buddhist monk in my previous life?

3:53 am

Blogger Seamus "Moose" Anthony said...

maybe, but then maybe you were a freckle on the arm of Urgor the purple giant who resides suspended in the gas storms of Jupiter with only an old Yes lp by way of entertainment.

9:50 am


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