Between Death and Life

Image Source: Haus der Kunst

Martin Heidegger says that death is our own most certainty of being-in-the-world. As beings-in-the-world, we are always moving towards death. Heidegger although profoundly insightful about death, still thinks death through either/or structure of our thought. To him, death is the other of life. As an other of life, it is siding against life as it becomes the possibility of being impossible. The limits of either/or thinking are overcome by Jacques Derrida. He does not think that death is the other of life. He does not put death against life. To him, death does not side against life neither life sides against death. Death and life belong to the same side. Death and life are not against each other. They are for each other. This means we live our death. Death is an event for the dying person as well as the loved ones of the dead.

We have to think death from the point of view of the dying person and not just from the point of view of those that he/she leaves behind. We do die a little with our beloved who dies. Actually, we live the death of our beloved who is also living his/her death. This means death cannot be the other of life. Death is life to its fullness. We cannot enjoy the fullness of life before living our death. Our life is therefore not moving towards death as Heidegger has taught us. We are moving towards the fullness of life. We are beings –towards-fullness of life. Heidegger is right when he said that death is the possibility of being impossibile. We live our life at the possible level. At this level, we cannot see our death as opening us to life. Death still remains at a distance from us. We do the impossible by living our death. Every one of us has to live his/her death. No one can live our death for us. Heidegger rightly thinks that death is our own most thing.

Death takes us into the absolute horizon. Death, therefore, is not the final closing point of life. Death actually is life. We cannot see it coming as it remains on the absolute horizon. We cannot anticipate what it means to live our death. It remains an absolute secret to us. Thinking of death on the side of life and not on the side against life opens us to understand death as life. It is the fullness of life that we cannot fully describe nor experience before living our death. We do not just live to die, we die to live. This suggests that there is life beyond death. We do not die but we live our death. Living our death is not dying our death.

Death is our entry into the absolute horizon. It is a singular and intimate event for each of us. We become impossible because we leave the level of possibility which is marked by a closed horizon where we can anticipate the future and hence death looks to be the end of life. It looks to us as the endpoint of life. We think that there is no life to come after death. Death becomes a point of the end of life. The closed horizon closes us and death becomes the final closure of life. Only those that have faith in God begin to believe in life afterlife. Otherwise, life ends with death for us. Thinking death on the side of life and not as the other of life can open us to a new insight on death as an entry point to the fullness of life. As beings-in-the-world, we are beings-towards-life. The life that we live therefore is in the coming. The life that is in the coming takes us to the fullness of life.

Death gives us a life without giving. This giving without giving occurs at the impossible level. It always remains in the future that we cannot see coming. Therefore, the anxiety that we have by the thought of death, the consciousness and conviction that I will die has to change and we have the challenge to replace it with the confidence and belief that I will live my death. I will die is just a partial truth of our death. I will leave my death is fuller truth of our death. Living one’s death is living on the side of life. Death, therefore, is on the side of life. Death is life. We live our finitude in living our death. Death, therefore, is impossible. At the point of death, we meet life. This is why we have to think affirmatively death and life. Affirmation lets us have death on the side of life. We have the challenge to embrace death as an experience of living the possibility of becoming impossible.

Death is always haunted by life. Death therefore fails and by failing only we paradoxically live our death. We fully live our futurity as we live our death. While we live the death of the beloved, we can only relate to the beloved through life in the coming. The dead beloved lives in the life that is in the coming. There is no border separating life and death. We cannot think that death is the end of the experience. We have not experienced the end of the experience. By claiming that death is the end of the experience, we are claiming more than we know without logical plausibility. How do we know that living our death is the end of the experience? Death opens us to life, life in abundance. Death is an event for the dying and hence, living of death makes it plausible to think that death opens us to life in abundance.

2 Comments

  1. Fr. Rajeev Chakranarayan SJ
    July 19, 2021

    The article inspires to think positively about the death, normally we look at the death negatively. The essence of the article according to me is, “to live present life fully but at the same time keeping at the back of our mind the stark reality of Physiological death…non-existence of the self from this earth for the time being at the rational plane.”
    Hats off to the writer’s deep thinking.
    With warm regards.
    Fr Rajeev Chakranarayan, SJ.
    Executive Director,
    Navsarjan.Xavier’s Cell for Human Development (NXCHD)
    Surat. 395001. Gujarat, India.

    Reply
    1. jnanamrit
      February 3, 2022

      Thank you Fr. Rajeev for your comment

      Reply

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