Stopping, Dying and Being Born

Alper Tanca
9 minutes

“English under (standing) and German ver (stehe) mean to understand. Standing and stehe come from the root ‘to stand’. So we need to stop before we can comprehend something.”

I invite you to use your imagination; close your eyes and go back to that peaceful moment when you were in your mother’s womb.

You are in a world that nourishes you, envelops you, surrounds you and protects you. No worries, no worries, no regrets of the past, no fear of the future. Unaware that there is another world out there, you think that this is the whole reality and life. You were an embryo living in a peaceful world, but as you enter the ninth month, the last moments of your life in this world begin. This life, which began for you at the zero point, that is, at the moment when the sperm of the father and the egg of the mother found each other, has reached the point of perfection in the ninth month and is approaching its end.

With the moment of birth, your peaceful world is turned upside down, everything is turned upside down as if the apocalypse has broken. The contractions that push you out of this world have begun, you are leaving the womb, the realm where you were happy and peaceful, and you are being pushed into a narrow and cramped tunnel. You don’t want to leave that world where you are peaceful and happy, but you can’t do anything about it. Now you have entered that tunnel, everything is dark for a while, the soothing pink light of the womb is gone, there is a tremendous pressure squeezing you from all sides. Suddenly you are faced with the reality that your old life is over.

What we have described so far is the moment when the baby’s life in the womb ends, that is, when it dies and is born into a new life in a new world. The moment the baby emerges from the tunnel and takes its first breath into its liquid lungs and cries, it has ended its old life and begun a new one. If you have witnessed moments of death under normal circumstances, you will have observed that death is a similar experience. If you think a little bit about the development of the embryo, you can realize that it’s actually not that different from our life now, and that it repeats itself in this life.

Isn’t death the end point of stopping? At least this is the end of the duration of reality and the moment when everything about this life stops for us. For some reason, the reality of death and the afterlife is a taboo, especially in modern societies, a topic to be avoided, a topic to be changed if the conversation gets there at some point, a topic to be locked in the basement until it happens to us. Why are we dying? Why is everything in this reality finite, while the one who created us is eternal (without beginning) and infinite (without end)?

Nowadays I come across many people who are afraid of stopping, who think that if they stop they will fall, that everything will end. As far as I can discern, there are two reasons for this. The first is the fear of coming face to face with the real questions that they have locked away in that cellar and don’t want to face when they stop for a moment from their travels, their small talk, the distractions of everyday life. I admit that these questions are not always pleasant, and it takes courage to face our dark side. But like every creature in the cellar that we see in movies, these repressed thoughts have a tendency to come up sooner or later.

In recent months, I witnessed the reunion of a mother and daughter who had been estranged for a long time and had had major problems with each other since childhood. The mother was so afraid that the real things they needed to talk about would come up that she didn’t even ask her daughter how she was during the entire meeting, telling her about the luxurious trips she had taken, the new car they had bought, how hot the weather was. When they broke up, all the poor girl could say was, “At least we didn’t fight.” We will eventually face these things that come to the surface when we stop, there is no escape from it. Whether during a panic attack or dying or during therapy. These creatures in the cellar will crawl up. And the longer we wait, the more they will grow and grow stronger in the darkness they remain in. Wouldn’t it be better if we chose the time and conditions of this confrontation?

We said that there are two reasons for being afraid to stop. The second is the fear that people, especially those who believe that there is nothing after this world, who live only for this world, experience at a point where they might lose it all. One of the sources of this fear is the instinct to exist, encoded in the deepest part of our creation. All our cells, all our atoms are programmed to survive. But fortunately, this creation is a reality with a beginning and an end.

I had the chance to be together with people who believe that we should take what we can from the world, that whatever we add to our wealth is profit, and who race against time even though the end will inevitably end in death. They were mostly in big cities, but I also had friends who lived in smaller places, who were much more in touch with nature, and more importantly with their own nature, than us city dwellers. Despite all the difficulties of being away from the conveniences of the city, every moment of their lives was so full and they participated in every moment of life so much more than we do that they had no time to dwell on the past and worry about the future. Their relationship with nature gives them the opportunity to better understand the mechanics of life, to observe that death is part of it, that it is not something to be feared, but a “moment of stopping and starting again” in a continuous system. to realize that he was a man. As my teacher Cemalnur Sargut always expresses; “Death is passing from this room to the next room. Dıfrom the top tothe bottomis to steal. We are afraid because we do not know ourselves. If we knew our insides, we would seedeath as Şeb-iAruzlike Mevlana .Watch. Meeting with the belovedthemoment oftransition.” If you notice here, death is described as a moment of transition. Human beings fear what they don’t know, and we fear death because we don’t know, but what we don’t know is ourselves. When we know ourselves properly, this knowledge will take us away from duality and back to unity. For someone who understands that He is everything and beyond, death becomes not something to be feared, but an eagerly awaited moment of reunion.

Every living creature (soul) will taste death and in the endyou will return to Our Presence.” (Al-Ankabût, 57)

This sūrah, which may not seem very sympathetic to some, is actually a sūrah that reveals the reality of this life in its most naked form and should be pondered upon. The liberating nature of the idea of death and the potential contribution to happiness of making peace with death is beautifully expressed here. This sûrah invites us to stop. It is as if the Creator is saying to us: “Human beings who run in a spinning circle until they are exhausted! The frightened child who tries to ignore death as if he will live forever! Look, we have put the most naked and inevitable truth in front of you, this life will end one day. So take a break from this run where you are trying to catch your own tail, stop for a moment. Pull yourself back a little bit and try to see the truth of what is really important in this life, realize this creation and the reason for your existence.”

I frankly find it very liberating and comforting that the fact that we will die one day is expressed as it is in this sûrah. If we think about it, the fact that this life will end actually frees us in many ways. I see the idea of death as an opportunity to find and focus on what is really important in life. When we begin to see life in this way, many of the things we bother and worry about in vain lose their importance in the face of death.

Take a day and visit the cemetery when no one else is around. All our important problems, the house we can’t afford, the boss who won’t raise our salary, the lover who annoys us, will they seem as important as they used to be when we walk among the deceased lying there calmly? In just two generations there will be no one left on this earth who recognizes us.

I don’t mean to say that we should just forget everything and pop the champagne because we’re all going to die anyway. What I mean is an active consent, concentrating on the meaning of this life, directing our attention to draw lessons about life through contrasts, trying to understand what those problems and troubles want to tell us, finding out what we want, setting goals accordingly and living this life to the fullest in pursuit of those goals; in other words, participating in every moment of our lives. The reality of death gives us the opportunity to do all this.

What are we afraid of? Aren’t we all going to die one day anyway?

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