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I'm going to die someday...
do you reflect on death?
Death is an inevitable part of life, yet the fear of dying can be a significant source of stress and anxiety for many people.
I want to share three practices that can help you come to terms with your mortality and better manage the stress and fear surrounding it.
But first, let me ask…
How often do you reflect on death & dying?
How does it make you feel?
Do you busy yourself when the thoughts arise?
Or do you sit with them and listen to the message?
In this letter, along with the three practices. I share some of Marcus Aurelius’ reflections on death, when the fear of death entered my body, and the day the fear left my body.
Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, and Stoic philosopher wrote extensively about death and dying in his personal journal, "Meditations."
I just bought my third copy of Meditations…lol.
I’ve destroyed them from having traveled and carried them with me almost every I go.
This copy is by far the best one yet. It’s from Ryan Holiday and leather bound. It ought to last a while…
Here are some excerpts from Meditations regarding death & dying:
"Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back."
This quote suggests that death is a certainty that cannot be avoided and that we should face it with equanimity rather than fear or despair.
"You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think."
This quote encourages us to live in the present moment and make the most of our time since we never know when our time will come.
"Do not waste what remains of your life in speculating about your neighbors, unless with a view to some mutual benefit. To wonder what so-and-so is doing and why, or what he is saying, or thinking, or scheming in a word, anything that distracts you from fidelity to the ruler within you means a loss of opportunity for some other task."
He is saying that we should focus on living our own lives rather than worrying about others since our time is limited and valuable.
"Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh."
According to Marcus, death can be viewed as a liberation from the limitations and constraints of the physical world, allowing for a return to a state of pure consciousness or spirit.
This perspective on death is not unique to Marcus; many spiritual and religious traditions share the belief that death is a transition to another state of being.
However, Marcus' view is notable for its emphasis on the freedom that death can bring.
In a world where we are often bound by our physical bodies and the demands of daily life, the idea of liberation through death can be both comforting and inspiring.
Of course, the notion of death as liberation is not without its critics.
Some argue that it ignores the reality of the pain and suffering that often accompanies death and that it can be insensitive to those who are grieving.
Nevertheless, Marcus' perspective is thought-provoking, encouraging us to reflect on the nature of life, death, and consciousness.
His views can be considered part of a broader philosophical tradition that explores the relationship between the physical world and the realm of the spirit.
For example, the philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that there are limits to what we can know about the world through our senses and that there may be aspects of reality beyond our comprehension.
Similarly, the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer believed that the physical world was a kind of illusion and that true reality lay beyond it.
While these views may seem far removed from our everyday experiences, they can offer a valuable perspective on the nature of existence.
When the Fear of Death Entered my Body
I was raised Christian by my mother and had a Muslim father.
Fortunately, my parents never really imposed their religion on me.
However, when my parents split when I was seven I moved to Missouri, where I was then introduced to the Baptist church (for all my Baptist here, need I say more? lol).
Here is where the fear of God entered my body.
I vividly remember hearing the pastor during one sermon bellowing:
“If you do not believe Jesus is the Son of God, you will burn in a lake of fiery hell and never experience everlasting life.”
Naturally, this scared the living shit out of me. In fact, it instilled a fear of death in me.
It confused me and made me angry. Why did my dad have to burn in hell because he doesn’t believe this?
He’s a good man, I thought to myself…
I carried the anger and fear with me for a long time.
All the way into my early twenties, 23 to be exact.
I prayed out of fear.
I spoke to God out of fear.
I would say my prayers before bed.
In fear I would I was going to die someday.
I would pray until I fell asleep to avoid the thought of death.
I would someday have to leave my family and friends and just all of a sudden…“not be here.”
How would it happen? Please, God, let it be painless. Just take me in my sleep.
The Day the Fear of Death Left my Body
Throughout my upbringing, I would pick up various esoteric & spiritual teachings.
The Sidhartha, The Alchemist, Be Here Now, The Power of Now, the list goes on.
But when I was 18 and in college, I took a world religions class, and it was then that everything just…clicked.
It all came full circle. I realized that these various teachings had so much more in common than in-different from one another.
Christ is an energy, not a man.
Jesus was the man.
Buddha was the man.
Mohammed was the man…
Christ energy is what came through them.
I could be wrong; I often am.
The truth is, nobody fucking knows.
Anyone who tells you otherwise…turn around and walk the other way.
There is no “middle-man.”
YOU have the ability to speak directly to God.
And that’s precisely what happened next.
In truth, I had a psychedelic experience…DMT
Dimethyltryptamine is a potent psychedelic drug that occurs naturally in some plants and animals, including certain species of Amazonian plants and the human brain. DMT is sometimes used for its psychoactive effects, which can include intense visual and auditory hallucinations, altered perception of time and space, and a sense of spiritual or mystical experience.
Now I’m certainly not suggesting everyone go out and try this, lol, although…it probably wouldn’t hurt if our government officials and the powers at be all got together and had a nice little pow-wow 😅
But during this experience, I remember a moment when time simply just did not exist.
Time felt like such an “earthly” concept.
Where I was in that moment was not earthly.
It felt more real than the keyboard buttons below my fingertips as I type.
I remember saying, “Holy shit Nadeem…you did it. You’re dead. This must be it; wow, this isn’t what I expected. What have I been so fearful of this entire time?”
And then this powerful voice came through….”My child, fear is man-made. All there is is Love.”
As I was coming back into my body, I put my hands over my face and cried.
I had never felt more empathy for myself and others before that moment.
Love for all of those who were in fear of death from misinterpreted teachings.
I still didn’t realize my fear of death had been absolved; it wasn’t until the following morning.
I woke up feeling lighter than ever before. I thought to myself…whoa…I fell asleep for the first time in my life that I could recall, not thinking about dying…
And from that moment forward. The reality of death has never come over me the same.
3 Stoic Frameworks for Managing Death and Dying
Stoicism, an ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, provides practical frameworks to help you navigate life's challenges, including death and dying.
These frameworks can help you manage your thoughts and emotions related to mortality:
Memento Mori is a Latin phrase that translates to "remember that you will die."
This Stoic practice encourages individuals to contemplate their mortality regularly.
By keeping the inevitability of death in mind, one can develop a deeper appreciation for life, prioritize what truly matters, and accept the natural order of things.
The awareness of life's impermanence can motivate you to live in accordance with your values and make the most of the present moment.
The Dichotomy of Control
The Dichotomy of Control is a core Stoic principle that teaches the importance of distinguishing between things within our control and those beyond it.
When it comes to death and dying, many aspects are beyond our control, such as the time and manner of our death.
However, we can control how we perceive and respond to these events.
Embracing this framework can help you focus on living a virtuous life, cultivating resilience, and accepting the things you cannot change.
Amor Fati is a Latin phrase that means "love of fate" or "love of one's destiny."
This Stoic concept encourages individuals to embrace everything that happens in life, including suffering, loss, and death.
Instead of resisting or fearing the inevitable, Amor Fati teaches us to accept and even appreciate the course of our lives, finding meaning and growth in all experiences.
By adopting this mindset, you can develop greater equanimity in the face of death, knowing that it is a natural and necessary part of the human experience.
I am going to die someday.
And so are you.
So live the life you deserve.
Live your life by design; it’s not too late.
Have the conversation.
Learn the instrument.
Chase the passion.
Kiss the girl.
90% of your worries will never actualize.
It’ll just remain in your head, instilling fear into your body.
And for God’s sake, stop taking everything so seriously.
Because you’re going to die someday!
Nobody knows what the fuck they’re doing.
And by contemplating the possibility of a realm beyond the physical world, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the mysteries and wonders of life.
Big Love, Nadeem.
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