Life-Death Dichotomy


  • The Purpose of Death
  • The Meaninglessness of Death
  • Death Culture


The Purpose of Death

1. Death improves others' life.

Death is part of life cycle; it's a change that life needs from time to time, to improve:

  • Death frees life, by the space the dead give to the living.
  • Death protects life. Without amputating some body parts, and replacing, isolating or sacrificing some society members, there is always a danger the rest has to face. Not only the bad is sacrificed, but also the good sometimes, for a better life, like those who die at the front for those at the rear: martyrs, soldiers, guards, firefighters, etc.
  • It diversifies life making it more enjoyably colorful, adding new horizons to discover that wouldn't have been known without experimentalists who pushed their boundaries, even when they died in the process: vanguards, pioneers, explorers ...
  • It strengthens the new life, offspring, species ... it gives, replacing the weak old ones it takes: parents, grandparents, ancestors; old cells, layers, thoughts, etc. The mere death of someone is a lesson to the others to improve life, by cherishing his/her good works and avoiding his/her mistakes.
  • It prolongs life, as new generations live longer, getting more opportunities to live in one life many lives of those who lived before. It stretches lifespan from a short one as that of insects, to a long one as that of humans, even though it looms at the end of either, like the last point in a line segment (where birth is the first, death is the last: B —— D).

Death ends a life, to give place to another, that is to be later ended too. Only for this we respect it, although we don't love it. Thus, one thinks:

When I die, although it's my turn to pass into oblivion, I know there are others alive and others yet to live, who need to enjoy their life, after I go. So instead of letting sorrow or deathbed fears overcome me, and wishing company for my misery, I transcend and get out of myself, feeling others' feelings, and wishing them utmost happiness ... while I'm dying. I loved life so much, that I want it to continue, with or without me.

When I die, although it's my turn to die, I know many of my loved ones have reached that fate before. Everyday a new person is added to the list: my parents, my grandparents, my neighbor who died suddenly, my friend who had a chronic disease, my pets whose lives are much shorter than ours, all weak children who couldn't survive childhood, all famous or ordinary people who died in the past and in other countries … etc.

I will be gone, I will become a past too. I AM, I WAS.

2. Death relieves us from life sometimes.

  • It's a relief from pain, when it can no longer be cured, lessened or coped with.
  • It's a relief from boredom, when we have learned and seen everything in life we want to see and learn. However, it's impossible to be certain when a life is totally boring, or when one's bored attitude can suddenly change.
  • It's a relief from imperfection, which is particularly painful to idealists, absolutists and those who are obsessed with a past or future, no longer/not yet existent (like those taking their own life at the zenith of success, youth, fame ...). The older we get, the worse some qualities in us get too, that seeking perfection in them becomes absurd: appearance, health, strength, senses, memory, etc. However, as long as there are alternatives, different and not necessarily better, life is still worth living for the sake of learning, trying, and seeing those new changes. In nature, species that cope with changes do not go extinct.


The Meaninglessness of Death

Death has no meaning, because it's nothingness, and dying is returning to nothingness. Those who give it a meaning live a mostly meaningless life. They make up for their failure in life by finding a meaning in death.

Death is not an experience to try or be curious about, because it's only passing into nothingness. Death is not the opposite of life; it's the opposite of birth, which is coming from nothingness. Nothingness is the opposite of being, and life is a form of being, a conscious one in the case of our selves.

However superior man is, he just vanishes like all life forms. Humans are superior because they are highly conscious; above all, they are conscious of their end—other animals aren't. People who delude themselves, refusing to be conscious, devolve into animals' rank.

Life is all about being vs. nothingness, and all our questions derive from the fundamental one "To be, or not to be?" – that is, from yes-no questions:

  • Is there a person/object/place/time/cause/quality/quantity ... whose existence is in question, thus needs to be proven?
  • Is there anything, or just emptiness and pervasive chaos?
  • Above all, is there a question, intelligent beings to ask it, and others to hear the answer? Or are they all lost in a black hole; and life is no more, will never be, or has never been?

The skeptic may say there isn't a thing in life whose existence we are fully certain about, including life itself, and ourselves. The faithful will answer, that's why faith is needed, else we go mad. And the hedonic relativist casually answers both: "Whether this life is an illusion or not, better enjoy it while you have it, idiots!"

Whoever's side you're on, a believer or not, a priest, scientist, or layman, enjoying life and letting others enjoy it is what connects people most—not their blood, beliefs, language, or birthplace. Whether you live to serve God, yourself or others, you know you must do it with pleasure. Even among believers, faith varies widely in quality and quantity, and so each one's opinion about God's ways: one thinks God has been kind to them, another too harsh, a third just forgotten them. They judge the Divine's ways with human methods, measuring the supernatural with the natural, the unknown with the known ... They'd better focus on that within their power, leaving what's beyond beyond.

One may even learn from those with different or no beliefs, ancient and modern, to many of whom it made no difference,

  • whether we were just pawns in the hands of superior life forms,
  • or toys to please some ancient Pantheon,
  • ... or worthless tiny dots running within the matrix of a universal software, designed by One who made us believe what we believe, and feel what we feel, thinking it's all real.

It doesn't make a difference, as long as we enjoy life. No one has yet uncovered the mystery of life, and perhaps no one will, but we know it's a beautifully intriguing mystery.

It's strange that there is a word for nothingness in our language, although nothingness means nothing. Similarly zero was invented in mathematics. We created both for convenience, to ease our contacts and transactions. Humans are clever in coining abstract words, and nothing is more abstract than nothingness itself: it's nothingness, that cannot be reached by senses or even consciousness like other entities. It's the only experience that cannot be experienced.

"Vanish" is the word to use instead of "die." I tried to imagine what death, vanishing, or nothingness is like. I tried to stop all my senses and all my thoughts: all the images, sounds, actions, and people's faces; all the smells and tastes ... I even tried to stop feeling my skin and my own breathing; I resisted falling asleep or staying awake. I tried to play dead, though I knew my mind would still be active in fantasies, dreams, comas or vegetative states; so I tried to imagine I have no brain or consciousness. I tried to imagine myself as nothing. But, I failed.

Death is neutral: it's not good or bad, not worth hating or loving, because it's unknown. All we know is that it ends life, and for this only we try to delay it, if not defeat it, by focusing more on life. We should love, hate and think of things we only know, minimizing known suffering and maximizing known pleasure.


Death Culture

Death is not worth the respect some cultures show towards; rather, it's the legacy of the dead we should pay respects to. Tombs are a symbol, and funerals are mainly held for the deceased's family to cherish that symbol, and not let it be effaced. We build graves and keep urns of those who died to preserve the last physical presence they still have, albeit lifeless. We show respect for other people's legacy, and appreciate the meaning and value of what they left us, by keeping their memory alive. We do all that for ourselves, not for them, to enjoy and benefit from them even after they are gone.

We are like heirs who enjoy the property of a deceased person, that can also be an emotional or intellectual property. Eagles and hyenas in the jungle may feast on dead animals, but we humans do not feast on our dead; rather, we feast on their legacy, because unlike animals, we have other needs to satisfy—intellectual, emotional and financial—and goals to achieve, that both the living and the dead can provide us with. Other animals have no such needs; they only occupy themselves daily with eating, mating and fighting.

Death is no rest and the grave is not a resting place; this is only a metaphor. We like to console ourselves by calling death a rest although it's a neutral state, because resting, in our minds, is connected to happiness: resting after suffering is a pleasure, by comparison.

Explaining such a connection is simple! Whenever we overwork or endure a hardship in our earthly life, we come to the point when we break or take a break. We willfully take a break by deciding to stop, or it is automatically taken by the brain, rewarding us with endorphins making us feel happy. It's how our systems are programmed, else they'll break down too: after surviving a high dose of stress hormones, the pleasure ones kick off. It's a cycle of pain, pleasure, boredom and pain again—while we are alive.

When we die, all brain cells die, and so the data stored on them, the hormones and endocrine glands secreting them, and so pain and pleasure and the rest of feelings: they no longer exist. Nevertheless, neutrality is better than pain when the latter is permanent and incurable. Compared to a life of suffering, death is definitely a relief. But when life is beautiful, as it mostly is (statistically speaking), then why call death a rest? No. By comparison, death is always ugly, even if it happens after a million years, and life is beautiful even if it lasts for a few seconds. Each second is worth living, till we run out of time.

There is no reward in dying. It's too simplistic to call life a painful experience, death a relief from it, and heaven the reward awaiting us after we die. It's both pessimistic and unrealistic to think this way, because life, by nature, has both pain and pleasure. We only work to maximize the pleasure part ... rather than refuse the gift altogether!

Nobody in the obituaries we read says that someone is going to hell (God forbid, for social convenience, even if it was Hitler's or Diocletian's obituary). We love others more when they are gone, because we don't have to express that love. They all go to heaven, they were all jolly good fellows—and if they were not, God will forgive them and let them into His kingdom.

Best rewards are those given on the spot, after a good work is finished and proven to be good, not those delayed, long overdue, posthumous, or un-given rewards! The sooner the better, to appreciate "the work and him who did it." They deserve to enjoy the fruit of their work, if not immediately at least while they are alive and able to enjoy. Religious or not, it's our duty as humans to reward the good we know done by a fellow human; the good we don't know—the unknown—is for Heaven to decide on. Good people should be honored while they are here, not after they are gone. Posthumous rewards (a dedication to "the soul of someone," a place named after them, an acknowledgement of their works … and other forms of "compensation") are like apologizing for not saying "thank you" when they were with us. It's too late, they are dead now, they can't hear our thanks or receive our tributes.


How to Accept Death

Refusing to Accept to Death

Accept Death, Enjoy Life

The Purpose of Life