The New Mindscape

Week 4

Life and Death

Death is considered a taboo in many cultures. We avoid talking about death. However, our imagination of death is closely related to the life in this world. The meaning of death often gives back to the understanding and meaning of life, such as how we should live our mortal life in the material world. Such understanding and conceptualisation of life and death differ across religions and cultures, but they similarly use various symbols and metaphors to picture life and afterlife. This week’s content will open the dialogue about life and death with discourses in philosophy and religious teaching, to allow you to reflect on the meaning of life and death. 

ACTION SERIES

The Meaning of Life and Death

Life and death seem to be the fundamental question in philosophy. How do we know if life is worth-living? We never know the purpose of existence since the world does not have intrinsic meaning as one of the great philosophers Camus put it. Camus once said we should neither give up the meaningless task nor try to give it some illusory significance. So, what do life and death mean? No other animals treat life and death like human culture; humans contemplate the continuation after physical death and its connections with life. Humans are trying to imagine afterlife as a way to give meaning to death and life in contrary. Searching for a meaning of life and death is the truth about our spirit. This video will guide you to think about how the meaning of life and death interact with our body, mind, and spirit.

Imagining Spiritual Reality after and before Death

Nearly every human culture ponders what afterlife would look like, including different religions. Symbols, images, metaphor derived from this material reality are used to understand and imagine life after death. Some religion conceptualises it as a mere reflection of this life while some other imagine a spiritual world beyond this material world.  This spiritual reality is conceived of two contrasting pole, Heaven and Hell. Very often, religions imagine our spirit will remain after the physical reality is stripped away. But what does that say about our life before death and our spiritual growth. Learn more about the interpretations of afterlife in religious and philosophical teaching and how it connects to our spirit in this video.

 

Funerals as Rites of Passage

Death is a passage from one state to another state and funerals are rites of such a passage, where the dead leave the previous stage and transit to the new role. This rite of passage is social as it acknowledges the passage and reorganizes social relations. That transit and changes from the rite of passage applies to the living as well. This video will lead you through the social dimension of the rites of passage and their implications for both living and death.

Death in Traditional Chinese Culture

In traditional Chinese culture, the dead move on while stay with the living in some sense. New roles are often assigned to the dead and those who live in this world worship them as ancestors as if they never leave this world. Though it may sound different from the conceptualisation of death and afterlife in the West, the symbols and metaphors, like Yinyang and HunPo, also convey the message of separating the soul and body at the moment of death. Explore more of the conceptualisation of death and rites of passage in the East in this video.