Lessons of life
Someone asked me: “What is your opinion about death?” Should anyone hold an opinion on such an important matter, or should one not truthfully declare: “I do not know what happens at death yet I will like to be enlightened by those who may know what it is?” The right question for one to ask is: “What is death?” With the many derivatives. In answer to the question posed to me, I stated: “No, I do not have any opinions about the subject of death. Early in my life, I had been a victim, so often, of the incorrect opinions of those who couldn’t wait to find out the truth before taking some decision affecting me. Therefore, I had been compelled to learn to wait and find out the truth before taking actions on any issue. On the subject of death, I knew nothing some years ago but now I know a little about it and the enlightenment is expanding.”
What is an opinion anyway? This is a word that is at the root of incorrect attitudes held by many men and women, concerning serious issues about life and existence. Let us examine the book of words for the definition. In the Chambers 20th Century Dictionary, “opinion” is described as: “What seems to one to be probably true, a judgment, an estimation, an assumption.” Quite revealing. There is a clear lack of certainty. This defines the worth of an opinion by limiting its validity to the period before the truth is known. Indeed, some opinions may later be confirmed to be true, thereby known as facts. It would be well if we limited ourselves to expressing opinions on trivial matters and restrain from doing so on serious issues, especially about existence. The fact, however, is that it is from the habit of expressing opinions on routine everyday matters that we have cultivated the presumption of thinking that we can brand our assumptions with the stamp of authenticity. This has led to many errors.
What is death? In the issue of January 1, 1998, The Guardian selected “death” as the Event of the Year 1997. The epic piece, written by Dr. Reuben Abati, was entitled “The Death Bandwagon: 1997 and its mortal sentences.” In the introduction, the Editor, Emeka Izeze, stated that: “Death came calling in 1997. It has always been on the prowl but in 1997 it swooped on the world. It took the bright and the young; it felled the wise and the worst. Its message, as always, is a chuckling revelation of man’s helplessness in its wake. Death made the greatest impact on the world in 1997. The silent operator spoke loudly of the limit of human endeavours and the need for introspection at times like this.”
The choice made by The Guardian, of death as the event of 1997, turned out to be portentous. With the passing into the great beyond of Nigeria’s Military Head of State, General Sani Abacha, on June 8, 1998, death made a very great impact on the nation. It has been said that we may not speak ill of the departed. The truth is that the Will of Almighty God forbids speaking ill of anyone, dead or alive. That is something for all human beings to ponder. Perhaps we would realise what damage we cause with the misuse of the gift of speech, which is to be used for healing, soothing, comforting and building. However, the life of every departed one provides (for those still living on earth) ample opportunities to learn many lessons of life. As the Editor of The Guardian stated in that masterly treatise on the subject, it is a time for introspection. Each one, as an individual, as parent or guardian, as a servant of a state or the Federal Government, must be ever mindful of the reality that death can come any day. This awareness and the knowledge that existence does not end with death, as it may seem to us, must guide all decisions and actions.
In the write-up, Dr. Abati went beyond quoting what many great thinkers had said about death. “Man has accepted the inevitability of death, and part of his response is to make it a part of the entire spectrum of life, especially his search for the truths about nature. In this regard, death is considered the component of birth, as another level of experience, a mere phase in the endless transformation of the human soul. He went further by stating that “the reality of death is necessary for life to be meaningful.” He observed, correctly, that fear is at the core of the human reaction to death, despite the assurance by philosophers of the continuity of conscious existence after the demise of the earthly body. In what might be termed a bibliography of some of the publications that provide convincing evidence of the continuity of life after death, Abati said that “promises had been fulfilled, as many books are now available to the serious seeker. Some sampling: On Death and Dying, by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross; Life After Death, by Dr. Raymond Moody; Life After Death, by Neville Randall; and A Very Easy Death, by Simeon de Beauvoir. He described the works of these researchers as a bold confronting of the phenomenon of death, and an attempt at demonstrating its ineffectuality. He concluded by quoting from the Grail Message the affirmative words that “the process of dying in itself is nothing but birth into the Ethereal World, similar to birth into the Gross Material World.”
The definite message for man, from all these sources of true information, is that he can know of what happens at death. He should be relieved to learn that there is really no death but a transition. Death is the separation of the living essence, the animating core, the living spirit, from the earthly body. It is already clearly stated in the Bible: “The body is the temple of the living spirit; without the spirit the body is dead.”
The answer to that all-important question: “What happens at death?” derives from an understanding of what a human being really is. The foundation for this understanding is to be found in the teachings of all the true prophets of the Creator. The main purpose for each teaching is to extend mankind’s enlightenment on the basic truths of life, concerning existence in this world and, after death, in the hereafter. The genuine adherent of each teaching is enjoined to believe in life after death, after the body of this world would have been buried. The living spirit of humans will go to that part of the immediate beyond commensurate with the personal conduct of the life just ended on earth.
The information contained in these sources of enlightenment conveys the truth that this matter does not call for man’s opinions. Either he knows of it, or he does not yet know. In the history of mankind on earth, there is evidence that only the individuals who are enlightened on these basic truths could be considered qualified to lead their peoples. They know that man does not cease to exist with physical death. They know that, after death, every entity must render account upon arrival in the hereafter. He who knows this is not likely to harm his fellowman in any form, and in whatever position. This essential enlightenment ought to be a sine qua non for anyone aspiring to positions of leadership.
Culled from Nigeria’s The Guardian of June 16, 1998, with Akindele on the Editorial Board.
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