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May 25th, 2012, 12:43 am
May 25th, 2012, 2:41 am
Spectrum wrote:The fear of death is an instinctive natural spontaneous response like sweating when under the sun and the likes. This natural fear response is necessary to facilitate survival and we have inherited it from our ancestors who had this response in them, avoided dangers and threats and thus has enabled us to be where we are now. In contrast, note the Dodo. On this topic, note Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death, and Terror Management Theory.
There must be very good adaptive modes for self-consciousness in human beings, but the unfortunate price it has to pay is, humans are also conscious (via induction) of their own inevitable mortality. This consciousness of inevitable death spontaneously triggers the necessary terrific fears and related emotions. It would have been appropriate if there are real dangers that are likely to be fatal. But the problem is, with self-consciousness and reflection, such fears are triggered merely based on memories, various associations and from nowhere.
When the fear of death response is triggered for no appropriate reasons every now and then, it generate terrific fears, cognitive dissonances, great anxieties, psychological angst, and other negative mental sufferings. To soothe the above sufferings, the majority had since turned to theistic religions and other soteriological approaches to seek promises immortality, eternal life in some heavens to counter the negativity of mortality.
The fact is, while these theistic religions’ promises do work to some extent, they are merely necessary vital white lies that come with a negative price. Note the violence, intolerances, cruelty and the millions of death in the name of religion. The irony of the ‘fear of death’ causing more deaths and even to the one (Jihadists) who was trying to avoid death in the first place. Humanity must wean off such counter-productive approaches in the very near future.
IMO, despite the higher degree of emotional factors, the effective approach to the fear of inevitable death is to acknowledge and experience it as a necessary instinctual response, like one is instinctively sweating when in the sun, and make an attempt to ensure it does not bother or paralyze one with psychological anxieties. How? Answer is: meditation. In meditation, one can modulate the related neural pathways that are related to the fear response of inevitable death. Instead of repressing the fear of death response or letting it manifest suddenly, one should recall it up consciously and deal with it neutrally and rationally. Thus, if the fear of inevitable death response ever manifest from nowhere, then one is prepared to deal with it.
Once one is able to modulate the fear of inevitable death response, then one can accept it as natural and live life optimally (and relative fully) up to the final limit of one’s physical body.