is one of the things that scares us the most. It is the fear of the ultimate loss
that we face, the fear of the unknown
. We are terrified of the idea of the void
When we treat death as a tragedy, we look at it as an ending of good times. Think instead of death as part of nature, part of the physical change and transformation - beyond our power to alter and thus must be accepted. Look at it directly instead of averting our eyes and minds and turning away in fear and denial.
When we fear death, there are two possibilities that frighten us - the total loss of consciousness or the beginning of new sensations. If we have no consciousness, there will be no pain and thus nothing to fear. If we have new sensations, we have not died but rather just changed from one type of living being to another.
Death brought Alexander the Great and his stable boy together; for they were either received by the same life-giving principles of the Universe, or there were both scattered equally among the atoms.
"I thank life, whatever it brings me; I thank this great nature for everything that I have". With this attitude it is possible to find serenity, tranquility and contentment. Life has nothing more to offer than it already has - its bounty is endless.
How can the gods, after having arranged everything so carefully and lovingly for mankind, have overlooked only one thing: that some really fine people, who through acts and dedicated practice have come so close to the Godhead, should be completely extinguished once they die, never to be reborn?
If this is their fate, rest assured that if there was need for a different plan, the gods would have made it. For any plan that's fair would also be possible; and if that plan were in accord with Nature, Nature would have made it happen.
We are scared by the fear of death, and from this we are doing ourselves no favor.
Do not dread death or pain - but rather dread the fear of death or pain. Our abilities do not extend to the control of the external happenings, but rather how we choose to respond to these circumstances of life.
Like that of his mentor, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius also used the imagery of the play to describe our lives.
Marcus, you have been a citizen of this great world community; what difference does it make if it's for five years or fifty? Whatever is consistent with its laws is fair for everyone.
Why is it a raw deal if it's not a dictator or a warped judge who sends you away from this state, but the same Nature that brought you into it?
Its the same as if a producer who employed an actor banned him from the stage:
"But I haven't finished all five acts yet, only three of them."
Exactly, but in this particular life, these three acts are the whole drama; for the complete play is determined by the one who was the cause of its composition, and now of its dissolution - and that is not you.
Leave the stage satisfied, for she who releases you is also satisfied.