Quotes for
the Journey:

Death 2

Life is a great surprise.  I do
not see why death should not
be an even greater one.

Vladimir Nabokov


When the time comes, I will know that death is a homecoming, not a wrench that leaves a bruise on my spirit.  Death is not the shadow but the light beyond the shadow.  My spirit will return to its resting place in a long, slow glide toward peace.        -Scottish meditation

Dying is a wild night and a new road.       -Emily Dickinson
It was not until after the coming of Christ that time and humans could breathe freely.  It was not until after him that people began to live toward the future.  Humans do not die in a ditch like a dog--but at home in history, while the work toward the conquest of death is in full swing; they die sharing in this work.
-Boris Pasternak
Death is not the enemy of life, but its friend, for it is the knowledge that our years are limited which makes them so precious. It is the truth that time is but lent to us which makes us, at our best, look upon our years as a trust handed into our temporary keeping.        -Joshua Loth Liebman
If we really believed that those who are gone from us were as truly alive as ourselves, we could not invest the subject with such awful depth of gloom as we do.  If we could imbue our children with distinct faith in immortality, we should never speak of people as dead, but passed into another world.  We should speak of the body as a cast-off garment, which the wearer had outgrown; consecrated indeed by the beloved being that used it for a season, but of no value within itself.       -Lydia Maria Child

There is, I know not how, a certain presage, as it were, of a future existence; and this takes the deepest root, and is most discoverable, in the greatest geniuses and most exalted souls.        -Cicero
I believe in the immortality of the soul because I have within me immortal longings.        -Helen Keller
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

John Donne


Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity.       -John Milton
I believe that whether we can live a truly satisfying life to the end depends to a considerable extent on how we view death.  Sadly, many older people are anxious and fearful about death.  But, as a Buddhist, I find it helpful to compare the cycles of life and death to the daily rhythms of waking and sleeping.  Just as we look forward to the rest sleep brings after the efforts and exertions of the day, death can be seen as a welcome period of rest and re-energizing in preparation for a new round of active life.  And just as we enjoy the best sleep after a day in which we have done our very best, a calm and easy death can only follow a life lived to the fullest without any regrets.    -Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhism Day by Day

From the play Our Town --Emily, a young mother who has died, has come back to earth for one day to spend time with her friends and family, who don't know she's there.


I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back--up the hill--to my grave. But first, wait! One more look.
   Good-by; good-by, world; good-by, Grovers Corners. . . Mama and papa. Good-by to clocks ticking. . . and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths. . . and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. (She looks toward the stage manager and asks abruptly through her tears) Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?--every, every minute?

Stage Manager:
No. (Pause) The saints and poets, maybe--they do some.

I'm ready to go back.

Thornton Wilder


Like Confucius of old, I am so absorbed in the wonder of the earth and the life upon it, that I cannot think of heaven and the angels.      -Pearl S. Buck
There is nothing that Nature has made necessary which is more easy than death; we are longer coming into the world than going out of it; and there is not any minute of our lives wherein we may not reasonably expect it.  Nay, it is but a moment's work, the parting of the soul and body.  What a shame is it then to stand in fear of anything so long that is over so soon!       -Lucius Seneca
A person may by custom fortify him or herself against pain, shame and suchlike accidents; but as to death, we can experience it but once, and we are all apprentices when we come to it.       -Michel de Montaigne

Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows. . . and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.       -John Muir
We don't know life:  how can we know death?      -Confucius
We've discovered that the earth isn't flat; that we won't fall off its edges, and our experience as a species has changed as a result.  Maybe we'll soon find out that the self isn't "flat" either, and that death is as real and yet as deceptive as the horizon; that we don't fall out of life either.     -Seth
Naturally, the first thing the doctors told me about the accident was that even if she survived she'd never be the same; she might be paralyzed or have permanent brain damage.  And do you know, in my maternal selfishness the only thing I cared about was that she should stay alive; it didn't matter in what state.  Indeed, pushing her wheelchair, washing her, spoonfeeding her, looking after her as my life's sole purpose--that would be the best way to expiate my guilt.  If my love had been genuine, if I had loved her with all my heart, I would have prayed for her death.  But in the end Someone loved her more than I did:  late in the afternoon on the ninth day, that vague smile disappeared from her face and she died.     -Susanna Tamaro
Surely death acquires a new and deeper significance when we regard it no longer as a single and unexplained break in an unending life, but as a part of the continuously recurring rhythm of progress--as inevitable, as natural and benevolent as sleep.     -J. McTaggart
It is too bad that dying is the last thing we do, because it could teach us so much about living.     -Robert M. Herhold
Death is the end of a stage, not the end of the journey.  The road stretches on beyond our comprehension.     -Oliver Lodge
When any living thing has come to the end of its cycle, we accept that end as natural.  When that intangible cycle has run its course it is a natural and not unhappy thing that a life comes to its end.     -Rachel Carson
Ideally, every human being ought to live each passing moment of his or her life as if the next moment were to be his or her last.  We ought to be able to live in the constant expectation of immediate death and to live like this, not morbidly, but serenely.     -Arnold Toynbee


As we climbed up the mountain and came to where I thought the horizon would be, it had disappeared--another horizon was waiting further on.  I was disappointed, but also excited in an unfamiliar way.  Each new level had revealed a new world.  Against this perspective, death can be understood as the final horizon.  Beyond there, the deepest well of your identity awaits you.  In that well, you will behold the beauty and light of your eternal face.
-John O'Donohue
Life may be considered altogether as a dream, and death as the awakening from sleep.       -Artur Schopenhauer
It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death should ever have been designed by Providence as an evil to mankind.       -Jonathan Swift
Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the most revered spiritual teachers of this century, once asked a small group of listeners what they would say to a close friend who is about to die.  Their answers dealt with assurances, words about beginnings and endings, and various gestures of compassion.  Krishnamurti stopped them short.  There is only one thing you can say to give your deepest comfort, he said.  Tell him that in his death a part of you also dies and goes with him.  Wherever he goes, you go also.  He will not be alone.    -Larry Dossey, Healing Words

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