Aging and dying are inevitable. However, coming to terms with this truth can be difficult, especially in the modern context with an excessive dependence and faith in biomedicine. Advances in biomedicine and life-prolongation strategies along with changes in social-cultural structures pose a different kind of predicament – the percentage of aging population is on the rise and, at the same time, traditional strategies for taking care of the elderly and their problems are being replaced by more impersonal state-driven methods. India, with its large population, poor biomedical facilities for the average person, and widespread poverty, yet fast changing attitudes towards family and the aged, faces a great crisis today.
The collection of essays in this volume addresses different aspects of this issue. The first section is both philosophical and prescriptive. It explores our rich religious and philosophical tradition to probe the very concepts of life and death and then suggests strategies - age old and time-tested - for coping with the inevitability of aging and dying. Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic perspectives on aging, dying, euthanasia, and related concepts are explored and coping strategies suggested.
The second section deals with socio-ethical issues related to aging and dying in the Indian context, in light of the existing state of affairs and possible directions for the future. The third and final section looks at the most pressing problems that confront both Indian society and medicine – end-of-life care.
Chapter 5: Death and Dying: A Buddhist Analysis
Death and Dying: A Buddhist Analysis
Death is an inevitable phenomenon in the life of a being, and what happens after death remains a mystery till today. As such thinkers of different cultures at different moments of history have concentrated on the issue of death and tried to provide significant analyses of death from their own standpoints. The only other concept that may be comparable—in terms of drawing attention—is its correlate: the concept of life. The statement, that there is no life without death and no death without life, is as much obvious as it is true. The truth of this statement is self-evident; no sane person would probably raise any doubt regarding it. Its obviousness follows from the fact ...