In addition, if we were somehow disconnected from our physical body/mind we would have no ability for experiencing the world in any meaningful way. We would not be able to see and hear or feel those who are still alive, nor could we have any way to speak with or interact with them. Even if we took the argument that our minds and thoughts all end with death, it is still not “rational” to fear a state that we cannot even experience!
We would certainly not see what we were missing out on, without a brain to process and store memory and interpret new experiences we would not even realize, in an actual sense, that something was going wrong. If some immaterial aspect of ourselves like our atoms and energy just drifts around the world after we are dead, we still have no rational reasons to fear that state of being, or non-being. If you think about it, it makes no more reasonable sense to fear death while alive than it did before we given a “soul”, an immaterial status before life.
Fear as such is future-oriented, and future experienced, if you can truly live in the present, fully and completely, there will be NO fear of death. If your soul is “immaterial” and continues, then so be it, and if it does not, then your experience of death would be the same as how you felt before you were born, which is again a state of no-fear.
It should follow that we should not fear death…we should feel nothing about it—no fear and or no happiness—because death is basically non-existence. Basically, when you are simply living your life with mindfulness in the present moment, you ought not fear dark alleys, even if there is the chance that, at any time you may find yourself forced to walk down one. Entertaining such fear would impair your ability to live your life, and thus is something to be ignored…and avoided, at all cost. Exercising daily exercises in living in the present moment, would allow your soul to evolve to the point of no-fear, in other words, no-future, because you are living in the present moment.
Epicurean philosophy also comes into play here as he states that what’s good is easy to obtain, and what’s bad is easy to endure. Epicurus would also state that even if faced with a painful death before us, the pain would be short-lived and the respite afterwards would be completely absent of discomfort (obviously, as you no longer exist to be in any possible situation of discomfort). Epicurean philosophy is very wise and immersed in equanimity because even if faced with death like if you are on a sinking ship, if you lived your life up to then with a sense of purpose and grace and living in your present moments, so even impending death should not instill any fear in your heart.
In other words, the fear of death comes much from your fear that you will be “missing out” on potential events that will come in the future. But that fear is not rational because you don’t really know if those immediate future events may carry with it “painful” moments. Again, if you are a person who completely is calm and lives in the present moments, you know that you have no control over the future, and thus you do not fear the future, hence also you feel no fear of death. If you live in fear, that is only telling yourself that you have work to do, because you are not fully living in the present.
Possibly, one reason that human beings dread death is related to their self-awareness of self awareness (so to speak). You are aware of yourself and are also aware that you are aware. The world seems external to you, but you have “sense awareness” that gives rise to its existence. I am sure that you know humans are not the only ones with “awareness”, such as your cat or dog. They are likely self-aware, but not aware of being self aware. This may be what separates us from other animals but which also gives within us the fear of death.
Possibly the source of the fear of death that everyone seems to have comes from again…not fully living in the present moment. The world did not exist to you before conception, then awareness slowly birthed into you as your grew as a young child. At death, your self-awareness may indeed have a terminal point, in a sense…the world ends. Other beings with self-awareness (maybe) try to convince me that the mountain near my home was there long before I was born (“On Certainty”), but it certainly came into my awareness recently.
So what is this self-awareness thing?
For many days you endeavor to avoid the deadly situations. Other days a quick exit would be welcome. I am not so sure that I personally fear death. I do not care or worry that I may miss out on some important news event like Extraterrestrials visiting Earth or a new movie in 3-D that would be very enjoyable. I am not keen on worry that I may miss out on fun future events because I realize fully that there would be painful moments waiting for me as well in the exact same proportion. Maybe what we all fear is a painful exit. Of that, I do admit a certain degree of fear that I know I would have to work on.
When I personally think of the past I have great regret and great joy. Suppose when I think of death I can have a great regret at missing great joys like future grandkids, etc. but I can also have a paradoxical great joy at the possibility of missing tiring tragedies like prostate cancer and dementia that I may be afflicted with. Therefore, for many, tt seems that the fear of death is often related to the pain of exit. We can conclude then that regret and joy of a future death is directly related to perceived possibilities and is similar to our regret and joy of our past awareness. In sum, I can postulate that if a man lives his life in perfect equanimity, not embracing the past nor being excited about the future, but just living in the now, the present moment, not being swayed by the tides of fortune, not being swayed by the passions, then he can accept his death with absolute serenity.
The problem with this is that we are all still addicted to our melodramas, as Ram Dass would say. We are obsessed with seeking happiness, and that is where our fear of death would come in. We would be afraid that the occurrence of death in the future would interrupt or make impossible our experiencing future joyful moments that may possibly come our way. But as we discussed, this is not a rational way of thinking because we have no control and do not know what the future will bring.