Learning to Die and Let Die
‘Learning to die and let die’.
A hard and difficult subject to compromise, this one.
Four of my relatives are under treatment. Three for Dialysis – a 42 year old just had his first one, a 72 year old having it 3 times a week and a 76 year old practically every day and the fourth, 64 year old spinster, getting ready for chemo! And… a friend’s son, a dear youth of 21 died a few days ago without being diagnosed after 3 hard months of painful expensive treatment. These are what that prompts me to write this now, though this has been in my thoughts for a while.
I am not Aristotle, Democritus, or Marcus Aurelius. However, I definitely believe I have a right to present my concepts and theories. Accepting these are not obligatory on your part but I shall gladly accept your arguments if they can refute mine. You are welcome to contact. However, to understand this first you have to clean your mind of the ‘old’ concepts that has been ‘passed’ on to us and replace it with a new more liberal approach. The key element in understanding this concept that I am trying to explain here lies in understanding the relationship between God and Mother Nature, a powerful dimension of God lying unrecognized. If you understand it right the answers to the age-old philosophical questions “Why am I here?”, “What am I doing here?” and “Where am I going from here?” will become clear. A Hindu pundit I had discussed my thinking with – well versed in Bible also – smilingly had said, “Dilip, I understand, but your people won’t”.
Yesterday, one month after I set about writing this, all the while discussing with several people from different ‘walks of life’, two of our youths from our church, aged 32 and 35 who had been intimate friends since kindergarten, lost their lives together in a ghastly drowning accident, leaving everybody aghast with “the God’s inconceivable action” - except me. To me it was that way they were destined to release their souls. I kept silent because I know, God did not do this, somebody else did, even though He knew incidents like has to happen. “Why?” Many there asked but nobody had any definite answer. I didn’t tell them I was writing my answer in these pages.
Our heads of religions and others – all, advice us almost everyday on the art of living, learning to live and let live, but not this one – ‘learning to die and let die’. Instead, they try to make us aware of the hope of life AFTER death. That also is a great ‘must’, I agree, but not sufficient to prepare us to ‘learn to die and let die’ that which is becoming another ‘MUST’ these days, a very confusing decision to make. First, we have to learn to die before learning to live after dying. If we learn to die without fear then I think there is no need to learn to live without the fear of death or worry about the life after death. One will accommodate oneself in both these places quite comfortably. Two things needed, as common ‘musts’ here, in living and dying, are faith and using your time. Lack or not understanding these are the root problems.
Everybody knows this philosophy of faith and using of time, but I have this following one too. That is if you say that God is responsible for man’s life and death; I would disagree. True, God made man and woman in the beginning and of course, He is the Ultimate but life and death are NOT HIS departments I believe. This should explain the catastrophes, diseases, and the strange deaths occurring to man and this is why we should refrain from our lament, “Why God is doing this to us”. That is because Mother Nature is in control here, not God. God had handed those responsibilities to His other ‘incarnation’, Mother Nature, long time ago when He finished creating the world. [Mother Nature is not a different entity but the creating/maintaining/caring/destroying part of the Lord Himself – this is what we fail to comprehend because somebody from the past taught us that God is responsible for birth, life and death.] Moreover, He kept to Himself His superseding powers to use at times when He would feel His intervention is necessary to manifest Himself more. His reasons we cannot fathom. ‘Mother Nature’ is another profile of God. (My dear wife, like great number of others does not agree with my thinking. Genesis 9; of the Bible is her argument. Thus she maintains God gave earth to Man. Actually, in the above chapter God lets Noah ‘use everything’ on the earth. God did NOT MAKE MAN or NOAH THE CUSTODIAN OF EARTH.). Now she – Mamma Nature- decides who and what are to live and die. She does not decide how you live but definitely decide how you die. Since God vested those powers on her, it is not for us to question her wisdom or criteria that she uses to make her decisions because she is His dual personality. God would not interfere because that is the deal HE made with Mamma Nature that He would not interfere and she could do what ever she wants to keep the world going.[That is why many time our prayers remain unanswered. Having problem believing in Mother Nature? It is easy. Just believe that the first of God’s multi-personality He ‘embedded’ in Mother Nature at the commencement of the creation (just like He was to do later through Jesus Christ), in the hope that man would see HIM in the earth and creation. But the problem started when man began to see ‘God’ in the sun, sand, stones, fire, trees, birds, and then not content with that started making gods of his own imagination.. Asherah poles, Bal, golden calf..! etc. The ‘stumped’ God might have smiled and said “stupid man” and stupid me, I should have known”. All through the Old Testament period, He tried from the Heavens to reveal Himself through miracles’. Still, people did not believe. Exasperated and disappointed, He said to Himself “Now I will have to go back again and reveal myself before their own eyes. These stupid people seem to believe only what they see”. See..? That is why, HE CAME BACK AS JESUS CHRIST. So, if you believe in Jesus Christ you will have to believe in Mother Nature also as being His first dimension on earth. Yes. You will have to love nature before you start loving Jesus Christ. The Hindu Pundit understood this. They see their Gods in nature. We don’t, where as we also should see our God the creator and His son Jesus Christ in nature too. ie. outside the letters of the Bible. The Pundit knew this and that is why he said, “I understand, your people won’t”.] Moreover, sad to say this ‘keeping the world going’ is giving her a hard time because of man’s ‘selfish behavior’. It is the attitude of man (no matter who and what else dies or how expensive the cost is, he and his should live)-, to live in this world itself, which is against the law of nature that needs changing. What is there on the other side of the Pearly Gates across the Jasper Sea is a reality that man’s mind is reluctant to accept and he does not want to go over or he does not want to let go. He prefers to cling to his selfishness (on pretext that he should do what ever and go to any extent to keep himself and his own alive) and to the present reality that HE IS DEEPLY IN LOVE WITH.
And so…. he forgets that Mamma Nature who brought his soul into this world and gave it his ‘physic’ or ‘case’ here in the first place has another responsibility – taking his soul out of this world too and handing it back over to God.
[Not directly connected to this subject, but not misappropriate to mention here, is, life and soul. Many people consider this as one. No. They are different. ‘Life’ needs a body to exist where as ‘soul’ does not. Soul is an identity when life is not. A person going into serious coma usually means he has lost his ‘consciousness’ or ‘identity’. In very most cases, the ‘soul’ has already left the body. That person then ceases to be a human identity any more and what remains is only ‘life’. Moreover, when we die our souls maintains our image to stand the trial. ie. Dilip will attend as Dilip and Bishop Oommen will be Bishop Ommen and not like universal ‘smiley emoticons’ as some people believes that soul has no image. The scripture confirms this that ‘at the day of His coming the rest of us who are alive shall be caught up as we are…’ That is another task of Mother Nature. She gives the soul an image inside the womb before it is born. Science is still burning its brains on the 25grams each person loose when this ‘life’ dies!]
God gave another duty too to Mother Nature. He entrusts souls to Mamma Nature, to pass them through earth for ‘purification’ from which He would select His celestial crowd. (The Hindu Pundit also had said that the soul is corrupt before ‘it’ is born. Yes, I remembered Adam sinned because the ‘sin’ was already in his soul, only it took a little while for it to ‘perform’ the first one of its character. The Psalmist in sang in psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”) These souls pass through the world where they get the chance to understand Lord the Creator and only those who accept the Lord as the God gets into Heaven. When God found out that man is not at all capable of resisting or winning over sin, He came again into this world as His own son Lord Jesus and gave the simple option “Believe in me”. You cannot believe in Him without believing in nature or say you will have to love Mother Nature first before loving Jesus because she was God’s first incarnation to the world. It is up to the recipient of the soul to understand and accept this truth. God now is busy continuing His work with His permanent place of abode where only such saved souls in their earthly image exist – The Heaven. Mother Nature provides more ‘souls’ for His celestial kingdom when He needs them. She goes around and picks souls at random, purified or not. When you are ‘picked’, you just go, whether you are ready or not. Therefore, you had better be ready though. She has many ways of collecting those (souls) as per God’s ‘requirement’ …. cyclones, droughts, floods, tsunamis, catastrophes, wars… along with diseases and other. In earlier times if there were only a handful of known diseases, now there are countless and strange ones too. The faster man finds cure for one, Mamma Nature comes up with another! She has to do her duty. This is what we have to understand and learn – to succumb to Mother Nature. Accept our deaths in whatever form it comes to take us. Even saints died terrible deaths. Herod slaughtered innocent children across his whole country. That is why we should not mourn the deaths of our children. None of us can keep on living here all the time; your mode of death is irrelevant. Ghastly deaths are NOT punishments of God. [In this context, I have to condemn capital punishment and cloning. Only Mother Nature has authority on birth and death.]
Man’s ‘fear of death’ or ‘love for life’ causes more agony to himself and others. Moreover, it would be worthwhile now to remember two pieces of advices my late father gave, “Don’t love anything too much, son” and “You are born to loose everything.” Mamma Nature is destined to win. You make her job hard she will make life even harder for you. She is very passionate and considerate but not that much forgiving. Do not fight her but build your/our faith.
Now about the second reason that needs attention, Time, the use, and stoical acceptance of our allotted time. Mother Nature had borne you into this world sealed in a capsule of time. When she opens your capsule here, you come out bound to a certain measure of time as your backpack. There is no escape from it. Even Jesus obeyed this ‘order of Time’. He had to live within it. He wept in it, did wonders, healed the sick, and did what ever He had to do. His life also was predetermined and He gracefully allowed Mother Nature to be the executioner. He knew He could not change it (not that He was powerless) but prayed if possible, it be changed and finally succumbed to it. He did not have to die at the age of 33. He could have lived here a four score and, hundred years or more! He had the power to do it. Instead, He succumbed to God’s (Mother Nature’s) will showing us it does not matter how much time you get to live in this world but what matters is how you lived and accepted what you are given. One day ‘rightly lived’ is more than enough.
What I am saying is that we have to learn to identify ‘that time’ that points out “Your time is coming up” or “Your time is up”. Time works hand in glove with Mother Nature. You cannot fight them. Again, I am not saying that we should deny medical treatment to anybody or to those who need it. No. We should treat them. Jesus used clay (as an example to this) on the blind man and asked him to wash in the pool of Siloam. However, we should learn to control the extent of the treatment, especially when you ‘know’ somewhere in your heart that the treatment would be ‘fruitless’. I know this is where you and I might disagree. You will ask, “How are we to know?” All I can say is that ‘it is in your conscience’. Knowing and accepting this, is the key factor. The dialysis cases I mentioned in the beginning did not start yesterday. It took them years to reach this stage! And the spinster has no other encumbrances that require her presence here now. To me indulging in this kind of expenditure is a grave sin. If only they used at least half of that money to treat some other financially helpless people who definitely has the chance of 100% cure for their illnesses, could lead more active life and who probably will die for lack of money! I know the counter argument these people have against my opinion, the excuse – the old belief – that I mentioned in the beginning – “(on pretext that he should do what ever and go to any extent to keep himself and his, alive)“ or “Jesus healed the sick”. Yes. I agree. Jesus healed. Nevertheless, Jesus did not heal the sick or resurrect His friend Lazarus to prolong their lives in this world. He did it to show that He had power over all those things. These days there are instances of many people accepting the reality to ‘fruitless treatment’ and ‘controlled’ their treatments or decided against it. Those are good signs that the old belief is changing. A vet doc of our church who realized he was a victim of cancer did not panic or ‘worry’ his family. Instead, he opted other ways to subdue his pain. Only during his last days did his family come to know about his illness. This is not an isolated case. There are many others. We have to make ourselves aware of the ‘fruitlessness’ of the money spent, the after effects of which will come not in the immediate future but will take its toll even after decades. Such an incident took place in our family when my cousin’s (married to my brother in law) daughter died of leukemia at the age of ten in 1996. The after effect of the blow emerged only in 2006 was devastating and its effect still lingers on.
Succumb to faith and time – succumb to Mother Nature,
Confidently, happily, proudly.
I know, this is easier said than done, but high time we started it…
…and learn to sing this song:
“This world is not my home; I’m just a passing through;
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me, at Heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world any more.”
Epilogue: I was present at the house of my friend whose son had died and was waiting for the body of the deceased youth brought home. There were prayers, condolences and singing from people from different ‘walks of life’. The preachers made eloquent speeches about the Christian Hope; the glorious life after the inevitable death, which they said, we should welcome whole-heartedly. They said that “we should not grieve about the parting of our dear ones” because “life in this world is troublesome and of sufferings”; that “the life in Heaven with Jesus is what we should cherish”; “that is where this dear one is going” and since “we are the children of God no need to fear death”.. etc etc,.. The choir and the other singers sang songs with lyrics along the same lines. One thing that seemed very monotonous to me was that the singers kept on choosing ‘Nearer my God to Thee’, ‘Jesus, lover of my soul ’,‘ Safe in the arms of Jesus’, and ‘When the roll is called’ repeatedly as if no other songs existed in the song books. Nothing wrong with that because the themes of these songs are very powerful and proclaiming the longing to be with the God or about the confidence that “I will be there in Heaven.” Good. Good optimism. I liked it. However, I was wondering how many of these present participants, with the exception of one or two like me would embrace death if it came in the form of a grave illness! They would conveniently forget these preaching and songs. Everybody want to postpone death or death of their dear ones even when they know that life here would not be smooth like before again. Nobody wants to go. They prefer to live here even with the handicaps that the treatment brings. Then, is it not meaningless to preach if we cannot accept Mother Nature’s call at our doorstep? Would life be happy when we see the sword of death, visibly hanging over our handicapped body every moment of the day? What about the happiness they preach that they claim they will have with the Lord? What about the eagerness they all bellow that they want being with the Lord? If they are not willing to show it in their lives here why preach? Why sing? If you cannot hear the sweet, confident voice of The Lord when it whispers to you “Come home” how can you say you are saved! Where is your faith?
I sadly closed my eyes and renewed the silent promise I had made few years back to myself:
“I will…. Lord, ….help me, Help me remember and give me the courage. ”
Annexure: Hospitals play a great role here. A great many of them have turned out to be just profit oriented business institutions. Now days they very often administer unnecessary treatment when they have not even made any definite diagnosis! I am not questioning the ‘medical ethics’ here, but when i see it used to ‘hospital advantage’ or as ‘guess work’ (they will never admit it), most of us can only watch helplessly. Patients and their relatives already in utmost agony or in dilemma of the situation they got pulled in, suddenly are forced to agree to any sort of treatment and become scapegoats. It is here that the hospitals, especially the Christian managed ones, should come up and advise the patients and relatives to rely on their ‘faith’. And after giving or advising adequate ‘soft treatments’, ask them to take the patient home so they can enjoy for the remaining of his/her life the peace and tranquility of their homes, the love and comfort of their family and friends, enhance the faith and feel the presence of God and angels waiting near to escort him/her ‘home’ and embrace death. Also, provide opportunity for the family and friends to give their dear one some more happy times and their best goodbye.
Yes. That is what I would prefer – sit in my own house and see our own dawn breaking into our own house listening to the busy morning chats of our own ‘yard birds’; watch the day getting busy through our own window, listen to the lies, laments, laughter, follies of our own family members and neighbors and be merry and watch the birds perching again on their own trees in our own yard, away sun setting into the dusk, giving way to the twinkling stars to take over the night so they can beckon from the Heavens “Come, come”,…. Then forget the pains…, close my eyes and be….
…. ready for a new happy dawn I long for…..that I have not seen….