Thursday, November 08, 2012

Should death be depressing?

Yesterday morning I woke up to see the news of the passing away of Moorthy Uncle in our Apartment Complex. He was an enthusiastic retired Bank Manager - full of knowledge and vision - and it's a big loss to our community.  He was an initiator of eco-projects and also kept a reality check on us in our Association dealings.

I was sad initially but then started thinking - every year some 10% of the people I know are bound to pass away. When Steve Jobs passed away I got sad. Some day the other people I "worship" are all going to pass away.

Wouldn't life be too depressing? - to wake up every day to mourn.

Perhaps it's time I take a second look at death and look in its eyes. The souls who are here are done with this adventure - Jobs created the PC industry, Tablet industry, Phone industry, Moorthy Uncle in his stint as a Bank Official must have made a difference to many lives who I will never know - but I know that he started eco projects in our Apartment Complex.  Now they are all off to their next adventure.

This brings us to the 2 different philosophies on death.

Eastern Philosophy

It's about re-incarnation and the soul moves on from one set of experiences to the other. The soul experiences all it can in this lifetime, and learns new things - and this does not go waste. These experiences/learnings get carried over to the next life time. That's why some people can always do certain unbelievable things that makes us wonder and say "he just did it as if he was born knowing it".

This teaches us to treat nature with care. I better save this earth, as next lifetime when I come here I need to breathe.

Western Philosophy

For a long time I believed this side of the story. This life is one shot, it's one opportunity that we have got - so we better make good use of it and not squander it away.

Try as much as possible to "experience" and "live" life. Make the most of this one opportunity to experience life. After this there is going to be none. zilch.

Love this thought - and in fact have been living my life based on this. I got bored after a couple of years in my salaried life ( TCS 2 years, LSU 2 years, Compuware 1 year, Thoughtworks 2.5 years ) and got an urge/itch to move on to a new adventure.  Exception being 3Five8 - my startup - this is my fifth year - and each day is still an adventure.

There are some down sides to this western philosophy - shining example is the Obama land - they live life like there is no tomorrow - over consumption, destroying hectares of land for a Sunday morning coupon newspaper, gas guzzlers... and in spite of the Katrinas and Sandys they are still debating - is the globe really warming?

The good thing about this is - when Steve Jobs got to know he had little time left of this life - he did more of the living. He was so focussed he pulled out an iPhone and iPad - and set the entire human civilisation on a different path. ( Ok thats a little too hyperbolic but one cannot deny that he made a huge dent ). Had he just given up and sat depressed and prayed for a longer and healthier stint next time - what a bummer our life would have been. We will all still have the horrible touch screens of Nokia phones and twitter/facebook might not even have taken off.

What is the takeaway for me?

When someone passes away - instead of feeling sad and depressed - I will try to know more about the adventure they had in this lifetime. The difference they made to others.  Talk to their closest friends and relatives - about the moments they had together. Appreciate and remember their adventure.

Try to find areas of inspiration. There is a reason why everyone is here and try to find out the reason this soul was here. We are all here to keep pushing mankind to the next level - one step at a time - getting inspired and inspiring others.

So death is a lot more than mourning and depression..

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