Those who regularly read this blog are aware that in the past few weeks I have been blogging at atheistenquiry together with a team of some very excellent heathens where we attempt to answer several questions that either are asked directly through the contact us section or as a result of the discussions going on and the above is one such question.
I don’t fear death, why should I since death means cessation of all feeling? If as one of the sages who lived before me said
when I am death is not and when death is am not
and as such, I have no fear of death.
To turn the question on its head, one would ask, do/did you fear being born? I think all of you will most definitely say no for the given fact that you were not aware at that moment and it’s the same with death, you simply will not be aware or even be there to know that you are dead.
Do I fear dying? yes, if it would be painful and especially if it is a long and painful. I, however, would have no problem if I would go to sleep and wake up to find I died peacefully in my sleep.
Do I want to die now or rather do I have a very good reason why I should go on living? I really don’t have a great reason to keep on, except for the experience of being alive, meeting people, reading books and basically the little things I do on a daily basis which on the grand scale of things count to naught. And don’t get me wrong, I am a great optimist. I know that life is inherently meaningless and I also know am going to die so I live with a lot of hope that it will not happen in my sleep tonight. It is in that extent that yours truly is an optimist.
In conclusion, I find these words by Epicurus in his letter to Menoeceus as very appropriate for this post. He writes in part
Foolish, therefore, is the person who says that he fears death, not because it will pain when it comes, but because it pains in the prospect. Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not. It is nothing, then, either to the living or to the dead, for with the living it is not and the dead exist no longer.
Friends, therefore, fear not death.