Good Death « Vlastimil Marek

Good Death

6.10.2012

Some cultures deeply respect their elders and look after them well (and the old age is considered the most beautiful part of human life). In Western civilization, the death itself as well as the process of dying is viewed as something to be feared. While some people make provisions to prepare themselves for the absolution (end of their life) they are rare exceptions (although there are some hospices in Czech Republic nowadays). People usually die in hospitals, which are geared to process the dead bodies. There is a chronic lack of – what Hindus call – the good death. This article is a third part of my contemplation on death and dying. I would like to give you my view of how I think the change of attitude of our society towards death could signify the change of our future development: we’re approaching the edge of a catastrophe (which may also signify a new beginning). The choice we’ll make will be entirely on our responsibility.

I can also see the analogy with home births (a topic I have written about numerous times): there is an increasing number of mothers-to-be who for many reasons are unhappy with the current state of obstetrics and hospital births. They choose to give birth at home as their only option as in Czech Republic there are no other options than hospital and assistence of a midwife outside the hospital environment is illegal and can be prosecuted by law. There is also an increasing number of those who would opt to end their life in dignity and at the time chosen by them. They also want to be able to make a conscious choice of voluntary death – this seems to be more acceptable term (pioneered by Améry) rather than suicide. The problem is that there simply is no other choice of death than the usual medical version of it (which in absolute majority means artificially prologing suffering and the process of dying until the body finally gives up). The number of statistics on this topic is growing as well as scepticism around hiding the real numbers and data.

I’m trying to say, that as I mentioned before, the birth pains are more of a cultural indoctrination, our view on death and dying is generally negative (perhaps due to lack of information about other options) and we hypocritically resort to „throwing away the bath water together with the baby“. The thing is, we don’t have a chance to prepare for our own death… we certainly can not compare to the Tibetan or Hindu culture, where old age and death symbolising the peak of human life. Some people from these cultures are prepared for their death to the point that they know precisely when their time will come (in the astrologically most appropriate time). Even in our civilization, there are some examples of this but they are truly rare. Do you remember when you were young, reading stories about the Mohycans or Apaches who used to prepare for their (possibly) last battle saying: Today’s a good day to die…

The euthanasia (as an option to chose your own death) presented in the media by various „experts“ and publishers brings a bitter sweet smile on my face: just like the births have been removed and stolen from women and are now „managed“ and controlled by mostly men, so did the medicine and doctors steal the right of death and the process of dying from all of us. The death has been degraded to an institutionalized process of prologing of suffering at all costs. Everything only lasts up to a point: the current state of obstetrics is starting to see the first changes. Due to ever increasing costs, the births as well as deaths are more and more expensive. In future, they will have to change to take into account the needs of the dying as well as the economics in general. Perhaps in future, there may be institutions or organizations which would provide the service of voluntary (good) death in some form of ritual or spiritual euthanasia to those who are of appropriate age and prove their preparedness (they’ve completed their purpose in life). As for the technicalities, example from the 50’s – the spies used to have a small capsule with cyanide hidden in their tooth. Should they be captured they would bite it to crush the capsule and die instantly to avoid being tortured to reveal their secrets.

And because this is all about life, allow me a bit of (spiritual) pathos: the human kind needs to change the way it is born in order to survive at all – and consequently will then be able to make changes to the way it dies. The gift of evolution could be utilized to its full potential if we keep improving our „hardware“(body) by adopting and implementing new „software“ (mind). The human brain has an amazing ability to change neuroplastically – it can change its own software depending on how the hardware is used. To give you some example: if you use your hands (hardware) to learn and play musical instrument, you are acquiring a skill…. your mind tunes in to enable you to perceive music in way you’ve not been able to before. Or differently: if you practise (and consciously create a habit of) positive thinking each time something happens, your brain/mind will change its pattern and in time the positive thoughts will be the first ones into your head. And yes, unfortunately the same works the other way round – if we keep thinking negative thoughts, that will be what our mind will automatically offer as the only view of the world. This is why I say we’re prisoners of the programmes of our own minds. But who else could change your own thoughts if not you? Recognize your own patterns and habits by looking at them honestly and make a conscious change. And most importantly, keep to it, create a habit of it.

Perhaps by changing the programmes of our own mind we can use the gift of evolution to achieve the ultimate freedom – our own enlightenment. We would be able to leave the materia and input a code, information about us in quantums (or whatever they will choose to call them). Afterall, shamen of all cultures have been already doing it intuitively for ages – death is just a gate to another dimension. If we really accept this idea, then our thoughts of good death will be like the self fulfilling prophecies.

My favourite saying goes – what is a death for caterpillar is a new life for butterfly. Maybe the times we live in are sort of transformative rebirth – not an immediate change, but a process conditioned by us developing our own spirituality (and the path leading to it – be it meditation, rituals or mantra chanting, etc). What if conscious choice of death is a radical method of turning the materia / hardware into information / software. The nature has tried and tested this in butterflies, maybe our genetic code includes something similar?

In the moment of death we usually transmit chaotic and fearfully confused energy (which essentially represents our chaotic thoughts, fears or purposeless lives). But what if we knew how to clear ourselves (body and mind), and be able to focus our energy and direction and write fractal information about (our) life in a form of light and energy (just like the Tibetan tulkus do). What if this „way of the universe“ is a form of consciousness rather than just materia; or differently – musically, the universe might be associated with a joyful AAAHH rather than destructive BANG?

What if we blindly breed and raise future aggresors, fraudsters and terrorists by mingling into the nature’s intent and intelligent design? I have to mention yet again – it’s the same way the male obstetricians are mingling into solely female world of giving birth (women were designed and programmed by nature to give birth to future buddhas). And since most of us were born damaged – what if this is exactly what prevents us from being able to recognize that? What if we’re all programmed to consciously transform ourselves into an energy form through our good death? A crisis provides a chance to change and „give birth to“ a new (better) beginning. Change of the mind settings is sufficient to trigger the change in actions.

As I mentioned above, if everyone of us got used to imagining the peaceful world and life, and a good death, too, and in such way gradually made positive changes to his brain/mind to then translate to actions then we would be able to see and have the world and life (and death) as a joy – and illnesses and pain as just the indicators of danger. Imagine… as John Lennon sings…

Maybe the time has come that we will stop fearing death and instead try to enjoy when our time will come because our death will be well prepared, conscious and good.