top of page

Have we forgotten how to die?

On my travels, I once came across a haunted derelict hospital. Many spirits resided there and they certainly weren’t out to get me, they seemed scared and lost, confused I would add. I was hugged by a little girl in a room full of dolls and I could tell she was trembling. She was scared. I didn’t feel fear, only compassion, and love.

Here I was presented with a very different reality to the spirit world than the one you generally hear about. Spirits who are taking to death with the same confusion and fear that so many of us take to life. It was so sad, it was like they had lost their way on their journey to the afterlife.

It was a harsh reality but they were lost in death just as they had been lost in life. I realized just how deeply wounded and unhealthy our society really is. Not only have we forgotten how to show each other compassion, who we are and where we come from, but we’ve forgotten even how to die.

How wrong can we have got it that we have created ourselves a life where we would still be recovering from its scars even after we death!?

How sad. How heart-wrenching. What have we of hope in such a world? It dawned on me that the only hope we can ever have in such a broken world comes from complete and utter detachment from its society and a return to the old ways, in hope that after we die we won’t end up trapped just like they were, poor things.

So here was the deeper meaning of Inanna’s descent into the underworld. She knew she was going to die when she set out, that’s why she asked Ninshubur to plead her case to the Anunna. She went into the great below to die. It was never really hubris though that was the charge. It was the ultimate act of humility, the ultimate act of zen and detachment, for a goddess to abandon her position and go to die for enlightenment.

Siddhārtha would be proud. She entered the world of the dead to become one among them. She passed through each gate and was stripped of every item that was her identity in life. She faced Ereshkigal without attachment to anything she had so identified within life knowing the sentence would be death and so she died. The goddess who had judged so many in life was finally the judged one and sentenced to the ultimate fate.

Of course, that wasn’t to be the end. She emerged victorious over death and came out the other side with the knowledge of the underworld and an understanding of what it means to die.

The lesson here is in detachment, but not detachment from the world by living apart from it. Inanna stands for passion, she’s the fullness of emotion, she’s not detached from the experience.

Rather, what we see here, is detachment from defining oneself with the articles of this life such that when you reach the ultimate moment, you’re ready to move on and don’t end up trapped here, confused, scared, doing the same things as you did in life in a slowly decaying building because you don’t know how to be or how to do anything else.

Em Hotep - Patrick Gaffiero


bottom of page