An excerpt from “The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying”
All the great spiritual traditions of the world have told us clearly that death is not the end. They have all handed down a vision of some sort of life to come, which infuses this life that we are leading now with sacred meaning. But despite their teachings, modern society is largely a spiritual desert where the majority imagine that this life is all there is. Without any real or authentic faith in the afterlife, most people live their lives deprived of any ultimate meaning.
I have come to realise that the disastrous effects of the denial of death go far beyond the individual: they effect the whole planet. Believing fundamentally that this life is the only one, modern people have developed no long term vision. So there is nothing to restrain them from plundering the planet for their own immediate ends and from living in a selfish way that could prove fatal for the future. How many more warnings do we need? The former Brazilian Minister for the Environment said “Modern industrial society is a fanatical religion. We are demolishing, poisoning, destroying all life-systems on the planet. We are signing IOU’s our children will not be able to pay….. We are acting as if we were the last generation on the planet. Without a radical change in heart, in mind, in vision, the earth will end up like Venus, charred and dead.”
Fear of death and ignorance of the after life are fueling that destruction of our environment that is threatening all our lives. So isn’t it all the more disturbing that people are not taught what death is? Or given hope in what lies after death? Could it be more ironic that young people are so highly educated in every subject except the one that holds the key to the entire meaning of life, and perhaps to our very survival?
If people believe in a life after this one, their whole outlook on life will be different and they will have a distinct sense of personal responsibility. There is a danger that people who have no strong belief in a life after this one will create a society fixated on short term results without much thought for the consequences of their actions. Could this be the major reason why we have created a brutal world like the one we are now living , a world with little real compassion?