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Buddhists/fear of death

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Question
Dear Justin
I have a profound fear of death which has caused me to suffer panic attacks and Agoraphobia ,I have seen death up close and personal and it has left me terrified. I am 60 and so scared of my future, Death is always at the forefront of my mind. I am so afraid to live in case I die. I cannot seem to relax enough to meditate.I was sexually abused as a child and do not trust therapist
Can you help me
Blessings Rosenmay

Answer
Good evening Rosemary,

Who is not afraid of dying?  I am afraid of dying too, and I am 64 years old!  So how do we resolve this inevitable phobia?  There are of course many approaches to this issue.  Some give assurances of a better place when one dies.  But this is not going to solve our present fear of dying. In the Buddhist context, the approach is to face reality and come to terms with this reality.  When there is birth, there will be the inevitable death.  This is the nature of existence.  We cannot escape this reality.  No matter how much "sugar coated" consolations or promises of an eternal heaven, this is not going to resolve our fear of death.  Like all other things, the more you fear, the greater it will become.  Perhaps the best way is to start reducing this fear of death, instead of complete eradication of this fear.  Then hopefully, this fear of death will be eliminated when the time comes to say good-bye.  

We fear to die because we are extremely attached to this body.  Our imaginations run wild when we think of death.  I had similar problems since a small boy.  With age catching up, and with better understanding of the Buddha's teachings and resulting little more wisdom, I gradually manage to reduce my fear of dying.  How we perceived as "I" or "my physical body" will influence how we perceive death.  The more we identify with "my body", the more fear we will have in dying.  Our existence is not this body alone. A being has a physical body plus consciousness, or the mind.  A human is a composite of a physical body and the mind.  The mind or the stream of consciousness never dies.  By nature, the physical body being a component thing, will not last forever.  It is inevitable that we have to face this "horrible" truth that the physical body will die one day. Come to term with this reality, accept what is inevitable, and flow with the tides of life.  

A very practical and effective approach which I use for my contemplation of death, and thereby reducing my fear of death is this.  Whenever I cut my finger nails, I contemplate when I discard the clippings.  Death is like the clippings that I discard.  The clippings were "me" before, now they are discarded and I don't feel any attachment to them.  So when I die, I will also have no attachment to this physical body.  Nothing to fear.  

Be at peace, and smile with nature.

Regards,
Justin Choo  

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Justin Choo

Expertise

All your questions will be answered, and you may not have to agree with the answers. Such is the beauty of Buddhism. I follow the Theravada tradition, and have been studying Buddhism for more than 50 years. As I am not a Buddhist scholar, I answer in simple language, and I prefer answering general questions rather than textual.

Experience

I was brought up in the 50's as a Buddhist. For the past 50 years I have read numerous books on Buddhism and listened to numerous talks on Buddhism by well-respected and learned monks and lay teachers. I have conducted Buddhist classes for parents of Sunday School children in a Theravada Buddhist Temple. My teacher was the late Chief Reverend, The Ven. K Sri Dhammananda of The Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can view the relevant website in memory of my revered late teacher @ http://www.ksridhammananda.com and my blog posting at http://blackandwhite999.blogspot.com/2008/08/my-revered-teacher.html

Organizations
I am a life member of the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia.

Publications
YOU ARE INVITED TO VISIT MY BLOG @ http://lifeislikethat999.blogspot.com/ Published a book called "The Rainbow And The Treasure". It is a compilation of extracts from various sources to introduce Buddhism to beginners. (Currently out of print)

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Commerce And Administration, Victoria University Of Wellington, NZ.(1974)

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