The Buddha is reported to have said,
“Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don’t rely on logic alone, or speculation. Don’t infer or be deceived by appearances. Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real.”
What is the truth about death? What if everything we were told about death was speculation? Or what if no one could offer proof of life beyond death? What if people had told us for generations that there was no way to escape death… but they were just repeating what they had been told?
Many sages have told us that men cannot fly, build buildings as high as mountains or travel faster than sound. Scientists, also did not believe it was possible to make calculations faster than the brain can process them, bring a person back to life after being dead, that we could talk to people half way around the world, or take close up pictures of Mars, Saturn, Jupiter. There was a time when no one believed that we would develop the sight to painlessly see live organs and bones in a living body, detect tumors before they become malignant or transplant a heart. To do all those things, someone had to stop believing blindly what others said was true.
It is easy to see that the Buddha was speaking of more than religion when challenging people to stop blindly believing what traditions, books, logic and sages had taught. He taught that we should go beyond appearances no matter how convincing they are.
Death is an old tradition many people are now challenging. They challenge it by staying fit, eating raw, whole foods, relaxing from stress and getting their needed rest. They challenge it by extending themselves and believing in a long, full life. They take care, study healing and practice full living as if they could live forever.
I don’t believe that we all must die. Believing in death does not give me comfort, satisfaction or meaning. It does not improve my mental, physical, emotional or spiritual health. Like the Buddha, I question the logic of death, the traditions around it and the meanings associated with it. For all I know, all my ancestors lived and died trying to get me to the place where I wouldn’t have to die- and if so, I owe them my best efforts.