This paper by Adhikari, displays Death as the ultimate invisible truth of Life. It draws forth the example of various characters and events on how Death has acted as the most powerful human agent to equalize all people, either the powerful or the powerless. It has made the link with the philosophers' principle of invisible truth of Plato, who draws the idea from Socrates. COVID-19 and its influence on virtually the entire world is taken as the example of fear functioning as the master of all humanity in the world. If outside visible things of the world are regarded as false, Death which is invisible, and hence the fear of death, is the final truth of externally unseen things.
Death which is invisible, and hence the fear of death, is the final truth of externally unseen things.
Key Words: death, fear, COVID-19, mythology, Lord Krishna, Kamsa, images, shadows, traumatic, discourse
Bhawani Shankar Adhikari
Plato takes the discourse of Socrates' idea of invisible truth in the philosophical dispute. The external visible things are not truth and the real truth is unseen and in fact the fear of death is the real truth. The word "fear" is the human instinct. It is linked with the psychological aspect of the individuals and the amount of fear differs person to person and society to society. It depends on the background of his or her upbringing. Science has created everything but it has not created to measure the exact amount of the individuals' fear as we take the temperature of the fever or the heat of the living creatures. But fear is the master of all. It has become the root cause of invention and the present civilization of the entire world. There is no place to hide the fear of the individuals and the extreme and low forms of fear becomes detrimental all the time and only the medium fear becomes the true guiding principle in the better path of life. Sigmund Freud's concept of fear is concerned with the idea of the uncertainty. "The term fear, whose metapsychological status remains uncertain (Google, stark stein)" indicates that fear comes with uncertainty and Death itself is the matter of uncertainty but it is the truth of life.
Fear of Death is the ultimate and the greatest one in the life of not only human beings but also in the life of all living creatures. Man is always active and busy in life but when the inner truth of life is revealed to him or her, then everything becomes worthless, meaningless and the useless one. This inner truth of life is Death and it is always lurking behind us but we forget it and ignore it. We become unconscious about the reality of Death. When we become conscious about Death, then we scare too much about it. This is the invisible and unseen truth of life. The unseen truth to the fear of Death is the lack of consciousness and the knowledge. Nepali thinker Mr. Desh Subba has presented the figure of fear in relation to consciousness and knowledge. "Life . . . consciousness . . . knowledge (Meaning) . . . fear . . . cognition (Subba)." It is obvious that fear does not come without the consciousness and the knowledge. Subba means that knowledge must be the knowledge of meaning. If a person does not have the knowledge of Cobra's poison containing the life taking strength, then the person does not get scared but when he knows about its danger or sees someone being passed away by the Cobra's bite, then the person is scared. Likewise when the person knows that he or she is suffering from the terminal cancer and he or she does not live long, then it is called the knowledge about his or her own Death. Then the person is scared much more. Can we call it the ultimate truth is the "Fear of Death"? It is also because the Death is unseen and hidden and it becomes the most powerful force to lead the life and the entire world. In the absence of the fear, the whole universe can not function properly and in its system.
Fear in Hidden truth
The philosophers have done the research regarding the truth and the unseen power. Plato has drawn the allegorical concept of the reality and facts. Plato's "Allegory of Cave" is the philosophical principle of getting into the world of the truth. Plato's figure of the burning fire and the people of the den are watching the shades of the burning fire but they have not seen the real burning fire and they believe that the images of the fire of other sides' shadows are the truth. They trust in the false images as the ultimate truth but know nothing about the real truth. They are in the cave in ignorance. If anyone comes out of the cave with knowledge and knows the truth, and if he comes back to the cave again and convinces the cave dwelling people to know the truth, then the cave dwellers do not trust him or her. The cave dwellers do not want to come out of the cave. They do not know the invisible, unseen, and the ultimate truth. The real truth is hidden from the visible scenes of outside world. The allegory is explained:
Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all over their lives, facing a black wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners' reality. Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners. The inmates of the place do not even desire to leave their prison, for know no better life. The prisoners manage to break their bonds one day and discover that their reality was not what they thought it was. They discovered the sun, which Plato uses as an analogy for the fire that man can not see behind like the fire that cast light on the walls of the cave, the human condition is forever bound to the impressions that are received through the senses. (Plato Wikipedia)
This concept of Plato shows that what we see in the outside world with our senses is not the truth but only the images and shadows of the fire is the truth for the cave dwellers but the real truth is invisible and unseen. Our visible form of the world is just the shadows created by the light of the fire to the prisoners who are chained and can see the shadows on the opposite walls. When one of the prisoners comes out of the cave and learns the truth of outside by the knowledge and the learning and he goes back to the cave and tries to convince the prisoners but they do not believe in it. They are habituated to live in the cave and the truth is the truth of the images of the opposite wall created by the fire. So, truth is unseen from the eyes in the visible world. So is the case of the fear of the Death. The allegory of the cave is the lack of enlightens through the education and learning. We are all in the cave of the world because this world itself is the cave in a sense to those people who are without the knowledge of the truth. Man without of knowledge of the truth is in the condition of without knowing the fear of final truth of life.
Realization of Fear
Fear is all around the life of all the living beings but the function of fear depends on the condition and the situation when and where a person faces it in real life. A person thinks that the power holding people enjoy the life. The person believes that the king would be enjoying the life most but when these types of people receive the position of power and the responsibility, then they realize the real fear in life even with the power in their hands. The best example of it is found in The Greek Legend entitled "The Sword of Damocles". In this legend, the common person, Damocles believes that the king of Sicily, Dionysius enjoys the power most and Damocles flatters the king most to receive the position to enjoy. The king knows the truth and he decides to give the moral lesson to Damocles by making him the king temporarily in the banquet. Damocles is made the king and given him the due respect with the crown on his head but the "sword" was put hanging above his head tied by a single hair and Damocles had to taste the food every time. Then Damocles realized the real fear. It is narrated:
When the time of the banquet arrived next day, and the high born guests had all assembled, Damocles, clothed in royal robes, was bidden by the king to ascend the throne; and a golden crown was then placed upon his head, whilst all the guests were commanded to render him the same honour and deference as they would have done to Dionysius himself. . . . The heaviness of the crown soon made his head ache . . . it was somewhat irritating to have to await tasting of every dish offered to him by the royal tasters, for fear it might be poisoned . . . a keen edged naked sword suspended from the roof by a single hair exactly over his head . . . he would be instantly killed and filled with terror at the thought, he entreated the tyrant to permit him to take a lower seat at the board. (Nissani 51-52)
This extract displays that Damocles realized the truth of the fear of the Death only when he was made a king for the time being during the Royal Banquet but with the sword hanging over his head with a single hair and the fear of tasting the food and it might have been poisoned him too. The realization of true fear to Damocles came only when he was in the position under the sharpest sword over his head and it might have fallen at any time and killed him. If he was not placed him in such a position, he would not be in the situation of realization of fear and he would be forever in the condition of Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Likewise the realization of fear of death comes only when the person knows his or her death is nearing him or her. Fear is invisible and unseen but it is only felt and realized like the fear of corona virus pandemic.
Influence of fear in life
The role of fear is seen and felt only in the life of a person when he or she is the victim of fear. The psychological fear becomes much more powerful than only other kinds of the fear. When the fear exists in the inner voice, minds, and the soul of a person, then it can be seen in the visible form of a person. When the fear influences to the person, then he or she can lose the minds and he or she becomes the mental patient. When a person is entirely under the domination of fear, he or she goes in the traumatic condition. It becomes too complicated to bring him in the right and normal condition again. The fear makes the person abnormal and it does not have any kind of treatment system. So, fear is mainly concerned with psychology of a person. Too much fear troubles the person and he or she suffers too much and forgets him what he or she has done in the actual life.
The example of influence of fear in the life of Armando Gonzalez in a story from Puebla, Mexico entitled "Fear' is practically experienced. Armando was a poor man without home. He had saved fifty thousand pesos in twenty years of hard work and he went in the bank to withdraw the money to buy the house but he was scared of the crowd and he put his hate at the back side of his head. And everyone looked at him. He was afraid with everyone in the bank, in the bus and even with the three boy students and got out of the bus in the middle of the road and ran to the forest. He cried for help and the three boys followed him to help him what had happened to him but he thought they were the robbers. Armando was in tragic condition because of over influence of fear in that particular time. The last scene of his fear is expressed: "As Armando started to get up, the three boys came over a pile of metals pieces and approached him cautiously. He cried like a baby." Why do not you leave me alone? I earned all of this money through hard work! (Lohani 43)". This extract shows that fear of being away from getting his money robbed from the robbers victimizes Armando Gonzalez and his mental condition of fear changed him into a baby like situation and he cries like a baby and requests the three boys to leave him. Armando has experienced the real fear in his life.
Another real fear and its influences are found in the life of Kamsa in Krishna Leela. The saint's prophecy was that the eighth son of Kamsa's sister, Dewaki, would kill him and Kamsa put his sister, Dewaki and her husband, Bashudev, in the prison from the day of their wedding and went on killing her babies up to the six sons but Balaram and Krishna were saved. They were brothers. They were reared in Gokula in the house of Yasodha and Nandalal. Then the evil king, Kamsa of Mathura, sent the numbers of monsters to kill Krishna but they were killed one by one by Krishna since he was the incarnation of Lord Krishna to free the people from injustice on the Earth. The Kamsa was much more scared and psychologically he was disordered. He did not get sleep. He was surprised with the news of Krishna. He had put even his own father in the prison. He was scared of his own life. He did not want to die. But he made a conspiracy and brought Krishna and his brother Balaram in the palace of Kamsa in Mathura to kill them but Krishna killed Kamsa. His murder is narrated:
There is a mention of the event in the Padma Puran, one of the ancient Puranas of Hindu mythologies. Kamsa was the maternal uncle of Lord Krishna who swore to kill Lord Krishna because according to a prophecy, Lord Krishna would kill him otherwise. Kamsa was a very cruel person and germinated fear in human hearts by his nefarious ways. In fact the Tilla where Krishna killed Kamsa is called the Kamsa Tilla. Krishna pulled Kamsa off his throne as he pulled him by the hair. (Google)
Why Kamsa does all the evil activities from the beginning to the end of his life is because of the fear of Death of him from Lord Krishna. His best friend, Bashudev, who becomes the brother- in- law as soon as he gets married with Dewaki also becomes the problem in Kamsa's life. Kamsa does not want to die. All the evil and cruel activities that the king of Mathura, Kamsa, performs from the fear of the Death and he does not want to die from the hand of the Lord Krishna and the fear of death is the invisible truth.
Fear is concerned with the security of life. People scare of losing their life and they do whatever the ways they can do to save the life from the Death. Corona virus got started in China on 31 December 2019 and "The outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020. On 11 February 2020, WHO announced a name for the new Corona virus disease: COVID-19 (Google)".
World Health Organization's idea is to lockdown the countries to minimize the spread of Corona virus in the world. To lockdown the countries and to stay home with the principle of social distancing is nothing more than the fear of Death. The whole world has come to the position of stand still by the fear of Death. What can be more powerful and fearful except the Death? The fear of Death from Corona virus has brought the entire world in this position and the Death is unknown to humans and people become busy to move ahead in the day to day life. If he/she knows the time of Death, then he/she stops doing anything in life. The fears are of multiple types but the fear of Death is the complicated one. It is stated:
Thanatophobia, of fear of Death, is a relatively complicated phobia. Many, if not most, people are afraid of dying. Some people fear being dead, while others are afraid of the actual act of dying . . . . Many people's fear of Death is tied to their religious belief . . . . Some people think that they know what will happen after Death; but worry that they may be wrong. Some believe that the path to salvation is very straight and narrow, and fear that any deviation or mistakes may cause then to be eternally condemned . . . . Thanatophobia may also have roots in fears of the unknown.(Fritscher Google)
This article displays that people scare the unknown and in fact that unknown is nothing other than the "Death". Whatever the types of the fear it may be, it is concerned with "Death". Fear of religion, fear of scarcity, fear of any types of weapons, fear of journey, fear of animals and creatures and any types of fear that humans have is directly or indirectly linked with "Death". So the ultimate truth of unseen fear is the fear of "Death".
Death is unknown to man. The person does not know how long he lives and when he dies. So, the truth is that the "Death" is unknown and hidden from the minds of the people. Leo Tolstoy has presented this concept in his story "What men live by". A man was ordering the shoes that would last long but the shoe maker started making slippers. Later the shoe maker was reported that the man had died and he needed the slippers to put on his coffin. And the shoe- maker provided to the messenger of the dead person the same slippers which he had made before. "What dwells in man? What is not given to man? And what men live by? (Google Tolstoy)" are the three questions asked to find the right answers.
"What is not given to man" is the right question to know the fact that man is not given to know his own death. It is beyond the idea of his ability to find out his death. It is hidden and no one knows when and how his Death comes to take his life. If a man knows about his own Death, then he stops every thing that he is doing what it is supposed to do in life. Hence, the Death is hidden in reality and it is the truth of getting scared of. The visible reality is false as Socrates and Plato have argued in their philosophical discourse. Something invisible truth of fear is the fear of Death.
Death is the agent of equalizer to all either it is ruler or the ruled ones. The Death does not respect the rich and neither hates the poor. The fear of Death is found in the life of all humans, animals, and the creatures. The fear of Death is the invisible truth to all. The amount of fear depends on the situation and the events in person to person but no one is immune from the fear of Death. Even if we ignore the fear of Death in our youth, we cannot do so when the Death comes near to the person. Death is always lurking behind us and we are not aware of it but when we become aware of it, we become helpless. COVID-19th lockdown in the entire world is the real fear of Death. Hence the fear of Death exists just like the fear of Corona virus which is not seen but only felt and realized by all the humans of the world as a real truth.
Bhawani Shankar Adhikari
English lecturer, Balmeeki Campus, Kathmandu
Nepal Sanskrit University, Nepal
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