A Psychological Approach Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ grief cycle 1926 - 2004 1926 - 2004 1924-2004 http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/kubler_ross/kubler_ross.htm
Stage 1: Shock The first reaction on hearing the bad news is one of classic shock. This initially may appear as if there is no reaction at all to the news. The person may nod and accept the news without appearing to be troubled by it. Inside, they have frozen out the news that has not really taken hold yet. To get the news through, they may need to be told several times. This is followed by a more external shock, where there may be physical reactions such as paling of the skin, shortness of breath and physical freezing.
Stage 2: Denial After the initial shock has worn off, the next stage is usually one of classic denial, where they pretend that the news has not been given. They effectively close their eyes to any evidence and pretend that nothing has happened. Typically, they will continue their life as if nothing has happened. In the workplace, they will carry on doing their job even if that job is no longer required. A classic behavior here is a 'flight into health', where previously-perceived problems are suddenly seen as having miraculously fixed themselves.
Stage 3: Anger • The next step after denial is a sudden swing into anger, which often occurs in an explosion of emotion, where the bottled-up feelings of the previous stages are expulsed in a huge outpouring of grief. Whoever is in the way is likely to be blamed.
Stage 4: Bargaining • After the fires of anger have been blow out, the next stage is a desperate round of bargaining, seeking ways to avoid having the bad thing happen. Bargaining is thus a vain expression of hope that the bad news is reversible.
Stage 5: Despair • After denial, anger and bargaining, the inevitability of the news eventually (and not before time) sinks in and the person reluctantly accepts that it is going to happen. From the animation of anger and bargaining, they slump into a slough of despond. In this deep depression, they see only a horrible end with nothing beyond it. In turning in towards themselves, they turn away from any solution and any help that others can give them.
Stage 6:Testing • Even in the pit of depressive despair, reality eventually starts to bite and the person realizes that they cannot stay in that deep, dark hole forever. They thus start looking for realistic things that they can do. These may be taken on as 'experiments' to see if doing these things help the situation in any way. As this activity starts to work, at least in some ways, it is found to be preferred to the depression and so the person crawls out of that dark hole.
Stage 7: Acceptance • The final stage is back to one of stability, where the person is ready and actively involved in moving on to the next phase of their lives, no matter how short. The terminally ill person will be putting their life in order, sorting out wills and helping others to accept the inevitability that then now have countenanced and faced.
The Six States of the Bardo • 1. “Rang bzhin or ‘Natural’ bardo”: our waking living state is the time of life to death • 2. “Bsam gtan or ‘meditation’ bardo”: concentration Provides opportunity for the given being to cultivate meditative equipoise, allowing them to achieve stability in the generation and perfection stages of meditation. This deepens the awareness of the ultimate nature of mind and prepares the meditator for the Chikha’i or “death” bardo. • 3 “Rmi lam bardo”: “path of dreams bardo” - from the moment of falling asleep to awake. Gives the person the ability to realize the similarity between the illusory nature of dreams and reality. The practice of dream yoga, enables the practitioner learns to maintain the ultimate nature of mind and phenomena during sleep and dreaming.
4 “Chikha’i bardo”: bardo at the time of death is entered at the time when the process of dying surely begins, ends with the onset of the onset of the Dharmata or “Reality” bardo. This points to the gradual disillusion of the five elements and cumulates with the inner radience of the ground, also known as visions of clear light. A natural arising of inner radiance happens immediately after the being stops respiration, which is considered an opportune time to realize the Buddha-body of Reality. • 5 “Chosnyid bardo”: bardo of experiencing reality. It arises after the Chikha’i or “death” bardo and ends before the Sridpa’i or “life” bardo. • Based on the practices during one’s lifetime the opportunity to recognize the natural purity and natural transformative qualities of the ultimate nature of mind occurs in the form of luminosities, rays, sounds, and meditational deities, noted by visions of various Buddha forms
6 “Sridpa’i or ‘life’ bardo”: This is the bardo of rebirth • This state is entered after the Chosnyid bardo when the consciousness takes the form of a mental body which has been conditioned based on the individual’s past actions. • 1. Here the individual begins to experience the surroundings where they died and experiential states which are powered by the individuals past actions (karmically impelled hallucinations). • 2. If liberation from cyclic existence does not come at this state, then it comes to an end at the moment of conception, where the individual is reborn. • 3. As consciousness has heightened qualities at this level, there is potential to reach liberation, or achieve a more favorable state of rebirth during this state. • Thus the six bardos are the classification of the 6 types of consciousnesses, where each state forms an intermediate state between other states of consciousness.
The Ancient Greeks on the Afterlife • "I have a firm hope that there is something in store for those who have died, and, as we have been told for many years, something much better for the good than for the wicked." - Socrates in Phaedo
Socrates in the Phaedo • The coldness was spreading about as far as his waist when Socrates uncovered his face, for he had covered it up, and said — they were his last words — Crito, we ought to offer a cock to Asclepius. See to it, and don't forget. 4 • With these final words, Socrates requested his friends to sacrifice a cock to Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, for his recovery to health. Symbolically, his request showed that he was thankful to escape the tomb of the human body and leave the cavern of human earthly existence to enter a blissful life with the good gods.
Socrates (from The Republic) [report of a man returned to life] • “ …as he was lying on the funeral pile, he returned to life and told them what he had seen in the other world. He said that when his soul left the body he went on a journey with a great company, and that they came to a mysterious place at which there were two openings in the earth; they were near together, and over against them were two other openings in the heaven above. In the intermediate space there were judges seated, who commanded the just, after they had given judgment on them and had bound their sentences in front of them, to ascend by the heavenly way on the right hand; and in like manner the unjust were bidden by them to descend by the lower way on the left hand; these also bore the symbols of their deeds, but fastened on their backs. He drew near, and they told him that he was to be the messenger who would carry the report of the other world to men, and they bade him hear and see all that was to be heard and seen in that place. Then he beheld and saw on one side the souls departing at either opening of heaven and earth when sentence had been given on them; and at the two other openings other souls, some ascending out of the earth dusty and worn with travel, some descending out of heaven clean and bright. And arriving ever and anon they seemed to have come from a long journey, and they went forth with gladness into the meadow, where they encamped as at a festival; and those who knew one another embraced and conversed, the souls which came from earth curiously enquiring about the things above, and the souls which came from heaven about the things beneath. And they told one another of what had happened by the way, those from below weeping and sorrowing at the remembrance of the things which they had endured and seen in their journey beneath the earth (now the journey lasted a thousand years), while those from above were describing heavenly delights and visions of inconceivable beauty.”
the soul, when choosing a new life, must of necessity become different. But there was every other quality, and the all mingled with one another, and also with elements of wealth and poverty, and disease and health; and there were mean states also. And here, my dear Glaucon, is the supreme peril of our human state; and therefore the utmost care should be taken. Let each one of us leave every other kind of knowledge and seek and follow one thing only, if peradventure he may be able to learn and may find some one who will make him able to learn and discern between good and evil, and so to choose always and everywhere the better life as he has opportunity. A man must take with him into the world below an adamantine faith in truth and right, that there too he may be undazzled by the desire of wealth or the other allurements of evil, lest, coming upon tyrannies and similar villainies, he do irremediable wrongs to others and suffer yet worse himself; but let him know how to choose the mean and avoid the extremes on either side, as far as possible, not only in this life but in all that which is to come. For this is the way of happiness.
All the souls had now chosen their lives, and they went in the order of their choice to Lachesis, who sent with them the genius whom they had severally chosen, to be the guardian of their lives and the fulfiller of the choice: this genius led the souls first to Clotho, and drew them within the revolution of the spindle impelled by her hand, thus ratifying the destiny of each; and then, when they were fastened to this, carried them to Atropos, who spun the threads and made them irreversible, whence without turning round they passed beneath the throne of Necessity; and when they had all passed, they marched on in a scorching heat to the plain of Forgetfulness, which was a barren waste destitute of trees and verdure; and then towards evening they encamped by the river of Unmindfulness, whose water no vessel can hold; of this they were all obliged to drink a certain quantity, and those who were not saved by wisdom drank more than was necessary; and each one as he drank forgot all things
. Now after they had gone to rest, about the middle of the night there was a thunderstorm and earthquake, and then in an instant they were driven upwards in all manner of ways to their birth, like stars shooting. He himself was hindered from drinking the water. But in what manner or by what means he returned to the body he could not say; only, in the morning, awaking suddenly, he found himself lying on the pyre. And thus, Glaucon, the tale has been saved and has not perished, and will save us if we are obedient to the word spoken; and we shall pass safely over the river of Forgetfulness and our soul will not be defiled. Wherefore my counsel is that we hold fast ever to the heavenly way and follow after justice and virtue always, considering that the soul is immortal and able to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil. Thus shall we live dear to one another and to the gods, both while remaining here and when, like conquerors in the games who go round to gather gifts, we receive our reward. And it shall be well with us both in this life and in the pilgrimage of a thousand years which we have been describing.
Parable of the Mustard Seed:Buddha and Acceptance of Death • Kisa Gotami had an only son, and he died. In her grief she carried the dead child to all her neighbors, asking them for medicine, and the people said: "She has lost her senses. The boy is dead. At length Kisa Gotami met a man who replied to her request: "I cannot give thee medicine for thy child, but I know a physician who can." The girl said: "Pray tell me, sir; who is it?" And the man replied: "Go to Sakyamuni, the Buddha." Kisa Gotami repaired to the Buddha and cried: "Lord and Master, give me the medicine that will cure my boy." The Buddha answered: "I want a handful of mustard-seed." And when the girl in her joy promised to procure it, the Buddha added: "The mustard-seed must be taken from a house where no one has lost a child, husband, parent, or friend." Poor Kisa Gotami now went from house to house, and the people pitied her and said: "Here is mustard-seed; take it!" But when she asked Did a son or daughter, a father or mother, die in your family?" They answered her: "Alas the living are few, but the dead are many. Do not remind us of our deepest grief." And there was no house but some beloved one had died in it.
Soren Kierkegaard: the Existentialist Courage to be in the face of non-being. • From: The Sickness unto Death • …despair is conceived as the sickness, not as the cure. So dialectical is despair. So also in the Christian terminology death is the expression for the greatest spiritual wretchedness, and yet the cure is simply to die, to "die from." Only the Christian knows what is meant by the sickness unto death. He acquires as a Christian a courage which the natural man does not know -- this courage he acquires by learning fear for the still more dreadful. Such is the way a man always acquires courage; when one fears a greater danger, it is as though the other did not exist. But the dreadful thing the Christian learned to know is "the sickness unto death." If on the contrary the self does not become itself, it is in despair, whether it knows it or not. However, a self, every instant it exists, is in process of becoming, for the self [potentially] does not actually exist, it is only that which it is to become. In so far as the self does not become itself, it is not its own self; but not to be one’s own self is despair. 1813-1855
Alfred North Whitehead: the “soul” is part of the universal process • As a first approximation we have conceived life as implying absolute, individual self-enjoyment of a process of appropriation. The data appropriated are provided by the antecedent functioning of the universe. Thus the occasion of experience is absolute in respect to its immediate self-enjoyment. 1861-1947
E. O. Wilson: Sociobiology and Life after Death • “The only common ground that [between religion and science] I see is the one that was approached by Darwin himself. Religious belief itself is an adaptation that has evolved because we're hard-wired to form tribalistic religions. Religion is intensely tribalistic. A devout Christian or Muslim doesn't say one religion is as good as another. It gives them faith in the particular group to which they belong and that set of beliefs and moral views. Oh yes, I grew up fundamentalist.” • “… I grew up as a Southern Baptist with strict adherence to the Bible, which I read as a youngster. As a child, I was warned by counselors and routine religious training that the truth was in the Bible. Redemption was only in Christ and the world is full of Satanic force. Satan himself perhaps -- but certainly his agents, witting and unwitting -- would try to make me drop my belief. I had that instilled in me. You have to understand how powerful the religious drive is -- the instinct which I consider tribalist but probably necessary -- in most societies for continuing day-to-day business. Born 1929
Wilson on Heaven and Hell • Would I be happy if I discovered that I could go to heaven forever? And the answer is no. Consider this argument. Think about what is forever. And think about the fact that the human mind, the entire human being, is built to last a certain period of time. Our programmed hormonal systems, the way we learn, the way we settle upon beliefs, and the way we love are all temporary. Because we go through a life's cycle. Now, if we were to be plucked out at the age of 12 or 56 or whenever, and taken up and told, now you will continue your existence as you are. We're not going to blot out your memories. We're not going to diminish your desires. You will exist in a state of bliss -- whatever that is -- forever. And those who didn't make it are going to be consigned to darkness or hell. Now think, a trillion times a trillion years. Enough time for universes like this one to be born, explode, form countless star systems and planets, then fade away to entropy. You will sit there watching this happen millions and millions of times and that will just be the beginning of the eternity that you've been consigned to bliss in this existence. • This heaven would be your hell. • Yes. If we were able to evolve into something else, then maybe not. But we are not something else.