Posted by Vale
When I was at school there was a short lived craze for making yourself faint. If I recall, you hyperventilated and then got a friend to squeeze you round the chest, at which point you passed out.
It’s now claimed that this is equivalent to a near death experience. There’s a discussion here, with descriptions of how to to do it (along with a firm warning about not trying them yourself).
Here at the GFG we don’t think it’s a very good idea either. It may be unsafe of course but we also disapprove because, while we believe strongly that people should prepare for death, self inducing a near death experience is, we feel, one of the less constructive approaches.
Religions have suggested alternatives. Hinduism promotes the idea that life has stages and that after the Celibate Student and Family Man the good Hindu will become a Hermit in Retreat and, finally, a Wandering Recluse. Not surprisingly it notes here that practice of the last two stages has become almost obsolete now.
The Christian tradition of meditating on the ‘Four Last Things’ (Death, Judgement, Hell and Heaven) may have more going for it.
Facing up to death, living with the knowledge of its inevitability, trying to prepare yourself all seem to me to be essential elements both of living and dying well. Meditating on Last Things would surely help prepare the mind.
But what Last Things might you meditate on? Death Judgement, Hell and Heaven don’t do it for me at all.
As an alternative I have started work on a personal list. It’s provisional at the moment but might include: meditation on ancestors and all that has made me the person I am; on the things that, from this vantage point, have turned out to matter; on the things that I have made or started; above all on everything that I have learned to love.
This feels like work in progress though. What would be amongst your Last Things?