Fear of Death and the Four Methods of Conquering It
speaking, perhaps the greatest obstacle in the way of man's
progress is fear, a fear that is many-sided, multiform, self-contradictory,
illogical, unreasoning and often unreasonable. Of all fears
the most subtle and the most tenacious is the fear of death.
It is deeply rooted in the subconscient and it is not easy
to dislodge. It is obviously made up of several interwoven
elements: the spirit of conservatism and the concern for self-preservation
so as to ensure the continuity of consciousness, the recoil
before the unknown, the uneasiness caused by the unexpected
and the unforeseeable, and perhaps, behind all that, hidden
in the depths of the cells, the instinct that death is not
inevitable and that, if certain conditions are fulfilled,
it can be conquered; although, as a matter of fact, fear in
itself is one of the greatest obstacles to that conquest.
For one cannot conquer what one fears, and one who fears death
has already been conquered by it.
can one overcome this fear? Several methods can be used for
this purpose. But first of all, a few fundamental notions
are needed to help us in our endeavour. The first and most
important point is to know that life is one and immortal.
Only the forms are countless, fleeting and brittle. This knowledge
must be securely and permanently established in the mind and
one must identify one's consciousness as far as possible with
the eternal life that is independent of every form, but which
manifests in all forms. This gives the indispensable psychological
basis with which to confront the problem, for the problem
remains. Even if the inner being is enlightened enough to
be above all fear, the fear still remains hidden in the cells
of the body, obscure, spontaneous, beyond the reach of reason,
usually almost unconscious. It is in these obscure depths
that one must find it out, seize hold of it and cast upon
it the light of knowledge and certitude.
life does not die, but the form is dissolved, and it is this
dissolution that the physical consciousness dreads. And yet
the form is constantly changing and in essence there is nothing
to prevent this change from being progressive. Only this progressive
change could make death no longer inevitable, but it is very
difficult to achieve and demands conditions that very few
people are able to fulfil. Thus the method to be followed
in order to overcome the fear of death will differ according
to the nature of the case and the state of the consciousness.
These methods can be classified into four principal kinds,
although each one includes a large number of varieties; in
fact, each individual must develop his own system.
first method appeals to the reason. One can say that in the
present state of the world, death is inevitable; a body that
has taken birth will necessarily die one day or another, and
in almost every case death comes when it must: one can neither
hasten nor delay its hour. Someone who craves for it may have
to wait very long to obtain it and someone who dreads it may
suddenly be struck down in spite of all the precautions he
has taken. The hour of death seems therefore to be inexorably
fixed, except for a very few individuals who possess powers
that the human race in general does not command. Reason teaches
us that it is absurd to fear something that one cannot avoid.
The only thing to do is to accept the idea of death and quietly
do the best one can from day to day, from hour to hour, without
worrying about what is going to happen. This process is very
effective when it is used by intellectuals who are accustomed
to act according to the laws of reason; but it would be less
successful for emotional people who live in their feelings
and let themselves be ruled by them. No doubt, these people
should have recourse to the second method, the method of inner
seeking. Beyond all the emotions, in the silent and tranquil
depths of our being, there is a light shining constantly,
the light of the psychic consciousness. Go in search of this
light, concentrate on it; it is within you. With a persevering
will you are sure to find it and as soon as you enter into
it, you awake to the sense of immortality. You have always
lived, you will always live; you become wholly independent
of your body; your conscious existence does not depend on
it; and this body is only one of the transient forms through
which you have manifested. Death is no longer an extinction,
it is only a transition. All fear instantly vanishes and you
walk through life with the calm certitude of a free man.
third method is for those who have faith in a God, their God,
and who have given themselves to him. They belong to him integrally;
all the events of their lives are an expression of the divine
will and they accept them not merely with calm submission
but with gratitude, for they are convinced that whatever happens
to them is always for their own good. They have a mystic trust
in their God and in their personal relationship with him.
They have made an absolute surrender of their will to his
and feel his unvarying love and protection, wholly independent
of the accidents of life and death. They have the constant
experience of lying at the feet of their Beloved in an absolute
self-surrender or of being cradled in his arms and enjoying
a perfect security. There is no longer any room in their consciousness
for fear, anxiety or torment; all that has been replaced by
a calm and delightful bliss.
not everyone has the good fortune of being a mystic.
there are those who are born warriors. They cannot accept
life as it is and they feel pulsating within them their right
to immortality, an integral and earthly immortality. They
possess a kind of intuitive knowledge that death is nothing
but a bad habit; they seem to be born with the resolution
to conquer it. But this conquest entails a desperate combat
against an army of fierce and subtle assailants, a combat
that has to be fought constantly, almost at every minute.
Only one who has an indomitable spirit should attempt it.
The battle has many fronts; it is waged on several planes
that intermingle and complement each other.
- The Mother