On Death and Dying

00_Art of Living_37

From the Book of Images and Confidences by Dhan Gargya

The Student: O Honored Sir, my friends have sent me to thee, in the hope that thou mightest give to me assuagement with thy words of wisdom.  My first loved friend is dead. Long have we together pored the scriptures and philosophies; only a week since did we speak of birth and death as we paced beside the stream in sunset hour, but to me now all words of books or men are empty forms, as is the life I must henceforth mum lonely through.

The Sage: So living, thou wouldst live a life itself a death, O Young Man. But thou mightest find in death that which is life.

The Student: How canst thou tell me so? Thou didst not sit beside his bed those gasping hours, waiting for help that did not come. Thou dost not know there was no need for him to die, in full tide of his manhood, in peerless strength and beauty, his mind ripe for knowledge and for fame!

The Sage: I know that death was not a loss to him.  I know he knows not death, nor loss of thee, nor loss of any fair perfection life here did hold for him.

The Student: Then only I know death?  It is but mine own sorrow I lament?

The Sage: ‘Tis so. Thou grievest for thine own despair, not rejoicing in thy friend’s release. And so do press upon thee the sorrows of all mankind to whom death is inevitable and incomprehensible and withering and blasting of their brightest hopes.  As thou learnest sorrow by their sorrows, so Death  doth teach thee thou hast not known friendship till thou hast made of all mankind thy friend.

The Student: No, ’tis true. I had not thought that others suffer as myself.  And yet I know death ever is, even as birth and youth and sickness and decay. Oh, why must these things be for men and me!

The Sage: They need not be. To him who knoweth life, its Law, its import and its purpose, birth and death are but as sacraments administered in due order of the cycles by That which survives, o’er rides and rules, and knows all earth-born changes -Itself That Life.

The Student: My friend and I did speak of immortality together, but I could not compass the abstraction.

The Sage: Doth not thy friend live now, then, in that to be at peace thou hast to learn of his continuing life?

The Student: It is so, O Sage. Did I but know him not snuffed out as is the candle’s flame, which disappears in darkness, I could take up again my life’s torn web, weave anew.

The Sage: Never again canst thou weave a web of beauty save thou learnest what Life and Death have now brought to thy door. It is thy time of sacrament.  Wilt make use of pain that thou hast suffered, of pain thou hast subdued, for helping of all friends to reach to knowledge and to peace?  If so thy heart inclines, thou shalt surely learn the secret of immortality this side of death.

The Student: O revered Sage, a shame falls on me for my private grief.  Teach me more of immortal life for all men.

The Sage: One only Fact there is — Immortal Life.  From Life we came, in Life we live and move, to Life we go — bearing with us ever to other planes or states or places the Life we are.  Thou didst not miss communion with thy friend when after a long day of pleasant dialog thou didst seek the night’s repose?  Thou hadst, in very truth, that communion still.  So now, the love that bound you binds you still, is still the true communion — love, that never was seen, nor touched, nor weighed, nor measured.  They friend’s bodily arc of existence here is broken, but not his love.  Cement thy bond in other reaches of the soul.  Day time here is that soul’s night.  So live in loving thought and purpose for others here that night time be thy day.  And thou wilt bring back with thee into thy night what will illumine its darke spaces — knowledge thou has communed with him you loved here in a body, who now is bodied only in eternal vesture.


  1. Epicurus

    The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.
  2. Emily Dickinson

    Dying is a wild night and a new road.
  3. George Santayana

    Nothing you can lose by dying is half so precious as the readiness to die, which is man's charter of nobility.
  4. John Donne

    Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved with mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tools for thee.
  5. Samuel Butler

    If life must not be taken too seriously — then so neither must death.
  6. Epitah

    Here lies Jack Williams.  He done his damndest.  (favorite epitaph of Harry S. Trumant found in Tombstone Arizona).
  7. Gertrude Stein

    You have to learn everything, even to die.
  8. Woody Allen

    I don't want to achieve immortality through my work.  I want to achieve immortality through not dying.
  9. Andy Rooney

    Death is just a distant rumour to the young.
  10. Oliver Wendell Holmesl

    Most persons have died before they expired — died to all earthly longings, so that the last breath is only, as it were, the locking of the door of the already deserted mansion.





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