Optical Delusion

Shiva Rose, Iran

(Submitted by the author)

We know everything. In our guts, if we really pay attention and listen, we know all. In May, I had an urge to visit my Grandmother Rosemarie up north. Something was beckoning. It was a short visit, but we were able to talk and connect. She became very ill after that visit, and she just passed on to the other realm this last weekend.


Sogyal Rinpoche, Tibet

Death is a vast mystery, but there are two things we can say about it: It is absolutely certain that we will die, and it is uncertain when or how we will die. The only surety we have, then, is this uncertainty about the hour of our death, which we seize on as the excuse to postpone facing death directly. We are like children who cover their eyes in a game of hide-and-seek and think that no one can see them. For all its technological achievements, modern Western society has no real understanding of death or what happens in death or after death.

Japanese Death Poem

Shinsui, Japan

(Originally published in 'The Art of Living')

A centuries-old Japanese tradition among Zen monks and Haiku poets is the jisei, or death poem, written when on the verge of dying; the idea being that in the final moments of life, these thoughts on death are especially lucid and so are also important reflections on life.

During his last moments, Shinsui’s followers requested that he write a death poem. He grasped his brush, painted the image (above), and died.

It's nothing to die

Victor Hugo, France

(Submitted by The Art of Living Team)

It is nothing to die; it is frightful not to live.

Inherent magic

Claire Elizabeth Terry, England

(Submitted by the author)

The basis for any discussion about the 'art of living' lies in having an acute perception of our own mortality, out of which arises a sense of the magic inherent in the very fabric which holds us alive.

Designer Dying

Timothy Leary, USA

(Submitted by The Art of Living Team)

Personally, I've been looking forward to dying all my life. Dying is the most fascinating experience in life. You've got to approach dying the way you live your life - with curiosity, hope, experimentation, and with the help of your friends.

A Beautiful Death

Petrarch, Classical Rome

(Submitted by Chiara Lancellotti, Italy)

A beautiful death celebrates an entire life.



Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy

(Submitted by Giulia Minotti, Italy)

Death does determine life. Once life is finished, it acquires a sense; up to that point, it has not got a sense; its sense is suspended and therefore ambiguous.


Gloria Gilmartin, USA

(Submitted by the author and originally published in 'The Art of Living')

On the first anniversary of my husband’s death, I found myself dreading the approach of 10.26 pm. How will I feel? What am I supposed to feel? What if I don’t feel anything? Over and over, all day long, these questions went through my head. I thought of how quickly a year had passed. What had seemed like a dream and a nightmare twelve months earlier was actually beginning to resemble reality.

Vedanta: Death and the Art of Dying

Pravrajika Brahmaprana, India

(Submitted by The Art of Living Team)

None of us can imagine ourselves ever ceasing to be. King Yudhishthira of Ancient India when asked, "What is the greatest wonder in the whole world?" replied: "That we see people dying all around us and never imagine that we too will die." Even when we fall asleep, our sense of self persists throughout our dreams. And upon awaking from dreamless sleep, we know who we are as soon as our feet touch the floor. This "I" is the thread of continuity that runs throughout our lives, from birth to death.

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