Like my heart and my breathing, my mind is recirculating images and feelings that are shared with millions of other people. Without death, this renewal would not be possible.
In the East it is believed that our bodies store memories of many deaths as we move from on reincarnation to the next. Thus our terror at the prospect of dying is really a memory. Likewise, the peace that can be felt in the face of death is also a memory. Each of us is susceptible to both recollections, the pain of dying and the joy of being reborn.
Without having to endorse any belief in reincarnation, I have found that people do locate the memory of peace inside. Since the fear of death exists on many levels, so does its healing.
On the emotional level you need to begin ridding yourself of the energy of fear. On the mental level you can read philosophy or scriptures, or if you are a nonbeliever, delve into the many scientific studies of near-death experiences, which have now been documented by the thousands. Faith can come in through the mind.
Yet wherever you place your faith, death remains mysterious. No one fully accepts the reassurances being offered by reason or religion. Dying is a natural process, but our attitudes toward it can be very unnatural. Of course you can be just as afraid of dying before it happens – the fear itself is what needs to be healed.
In every wisdom tradition there is a teaching called “dying unto death,” as the New Testament calls it. This means experiencing the truth about dying while you are still alive. At this moment your body could not be alive without death. Billions of cells have to perish to bring new ones to life. You could not think or feel or dream if your mind did not allow your old thoughts to die away and make room for the new.
Adapted from The Deeper Wound: Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2001).