“While I thought I was learning to live, I have been learning how to die.”

– Leonardo da Vinci (an Italian scientist and artist of the fifteenth century, widely considered as the greatest painters of all time)

An anecdote drives home the point of our final destination in this world:

In traditional Indian villages, round cakes made of wet cow dung and dried on the walls of the mud houses are a common sight.

Two dried cow dung cakes waiting for their destiny to unfold, became friends, as they lay next to each other in a pile.

“I think we will become the fuel for cooking,” said one of them.

The other agreed, adjusting himself in the basket that contained over a dozen cakes. “Fire is our fate.”

A piece of wet dung stuck on the adjacent wall overheard the conversation. He sympathized with them and smiled reassuringly, “Don’t worry brothers; just be positive, everything will soon be all right.”

The dry cake turned to his friend and said, “Little does he know, he is next- the same fate as ours, once dried.”

Then turning to their energetic well-wisher, he quipped, “Oh brother, only time is separating you from your destiny. We’ll soon meet you in heaven!”

Although Death is an enigma, it’s not to be feared, at least not as much as how we live our lives when alive. We are precious souls and have a great opportunity to live a fulsome life. As the Persian poet Rumi said, “You need not be afraid of death for you are a deathless soul, and you can’t be kept in a dark grave because you are filled with God’s glow.” Death of our bodies is certainly a common factor in all our lives, still how we live is what separates us from each other. It’s our personal choice.

The choice to live after death or die while living

Two striking contrasts in the history of the Philippines reveal this principle.

Imelda Marcos and her husband Ferdinand plundered their country. Even though millions starved, the couple amassed billions of dollars’ worth of property. Imelda, a beauty queen, collected more than two thousand pairs of fancy shoes, priceless rubies, and diamonds, and lived in vanity. Her hubby, President Ferdinand, imposed Martial law in the country. Their greed and lust for power kept the country poor, the opposition angry, and the citizens desperate for a change. As both of them partied in excesses, they made sure all political opposition was crushed with disdain.

To be continued….

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