What is Death

“O grave, where is thy victory?” Paul of Tarsus

“There is no death nor birth. That which is born is only the body… If a man considers he is born he cannot avoid the fear of death. Let him find out if he has been born”. Ramana Maharshi

What is death? To begin with, we have the concept. What is the reality – if any – behind that particular concept, taken in general? Given that all concepts have a referent, is there a clear referent to the concept ‘death’? If so, is it an event, or a process – let us say in he case of a body? As soon as we start thinking or talking about it we are confronted with a series of difficulties, for there is not an unambiguous definition of that word or concept. Can it be defined in either positive or negative terms? What is its substratum, if any? As an adjective – ‘dead’ – that concept has a number of meanings or uses, not only a lack of vitality or function, and it frequently suggests certainty, assuredness and finality. In the New World Dictionary twenty different applications of the word are listed. Death, thus, whatever it is, is ubiquitous and multifarious, but what is it in its primary sense, as related to life? Continue reading