DEATH AND DETACHMENT
DOI link for DEATH AND DETACHMENT
DEATH AND DETACHMENT book
Socrates’ characterization of the philosophical enterprise as ‘practising dying’ epitomizes a major way of understanding the phenomenon of death in the Western tradition. This way, I evade death’s sting by dying to the world in advance, dissociating myself from the body, so that when physical death arrives I am no longer home to receive it. Indeed according to the Orphic strain of thinking, so prominent in Plato’s Phaedo, as soul I am never really at home in the body. Similar strategies are employed by several schools in the Asian traditions, where the idea is to die away from the world and detach from the body in order to identify with the ultimate, transcendent Reality, to be reborn into the world beyond, or cross over to the yonder shore of Nirvana. While this shift in my way of being offers, when well executed, a satisfactory way of dealing with my mortality, it is obvious that the victory over death is Pyrrhic-in so far as it deprives me of the full enjoyment of life.