Guiding Light: Death adds meaning and purpose to life

Early in life, I discovered that life has a purpose and meaning because there is death. This seems like an insensitive statement to make, in these times. But it is a fact. A junior is called by his boss in a corporate and told to take care of a project. The junior asks, ‘By when should it be ready?’ The Boss says, ‘Anytime is ok’. Chances are good that the project will be undone for a long period of time unless the junior is exceptionally intelligent. If the boss were to say, ‘I need the completed project in 3 days’ time’, it is almost certain that most juniors would have finished the project in time unless one is a laggard and indolent person.

So, it is a deadline that makes things meaningful. Unless there is a deadline for a project, a mission, an accomplishment, chances are that we will be slack in doing work. It is natural to be distracted by other demanding things. The same thing happens in life. If life were to stretch infinitely in front of us, nobody would take things seriously. There is always a tomorrow when things can be done. Why bother about targets or any accomplishment this year? But things change when we realise that any day can be our last day. Any moment can be our last moment.

The length of our life is not guaranteed. Then life itself takes on a different meaning. If you are lucky to have confronted death factually, the better it is. Otherwise with imagination, one can confront death. It is also a value in the Gita that if I have confronted my death, I become more alive to the situation, more alive to my priorities and goals, more alive to my purpose of living, more alive to my relationships. I begin to value what is really important and discard what is ephemeral/time-pass. We don’t have any time to pass anyway. Death is around the corner. Awareness of death and the end of our lives is not morbid but something that can help us live our lives fully and more spiritually.

(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him @aarshavidyaf@gmail.com)

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