Death puts the futility of life in perspective, the utter meaninglessness of it. Why? Why do we do so much? Why do we care/hate/love/fight/yearn/compete so much? Why do we build? Why do we dedicate our lives to causes that go beyond our lives? Why even bother? When death is just round the corner? Why? Why? It is said we go into a phase called ‘smasana vairagya’ when someone we know dies. Why? Apart from the pain stemming from the loss of a loved one, what bugs us about death? The fact that it breaks down the façade we’ve put on ourselves not just as an individual but as a society as a race to escape the meaninglessness of life – that all of this is an illusion.
Why bother when nothing’s going to last? I believe this question is as old as death itself. The answer – because there’s no other alternative. Because we know we have to continue living till our time’s up. So what do we do? We create playthings for ourselves to distract us from the hollow nature of life, from that truth of life, that nothing matters in the end. All our lives we live this life of distraction filled with work, families, responsibilities, hobbies, politics, economics, anything and everything to take our mind off the end. And, the more afraid we are of death, the more we cling on to our material goods, to our relations. “How can we become nothing? How can we amount upto nothing after living a life of 60-70 years?” We cannot accept that and desperately believe that something we do should be giving meaning to our life and try to find it in service, religion, work. When it doesn’t work, we numb ourselves to the reality by abusing alcohol and drugs.
As I write these words a part of me rebels. Even I have to believe what I’m doing is worthwhile otherwise how am I going to stop myself from falling to pieces? But, I think it is better to live with this truth than continue burying our heads in sand and living a life of ignorance. Why? Isn’t it a pain to know this? Why not forget? Because ignorance is never bliss. It is just that – ignorance. A sham. A false life. On the other hand, the truth no matter how painful it is to grasp forcefully yanks us apart from all the things we hold dear in life – love, work, joy, sorrow – detaching us from it. I think this is the curse of being a human – to know that life is ‘meaningless’ but to hold onto an illusion of ‘meaning’ to make it through it.