March 5, 2024

Are Believers Healthier Than Atheists?

South African motivational speaker, Jacques de Villiers writes about death and dying before you die.

Jacques de Villiers – writing quest: Article 38/365

Apparently, people with strong spiritual beliefs have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems compared to those with weak spiritual beliefs.

There are, of course, many other considerations like lifestyle choices and genetics to take into account. I know the grumpiest and most negative of atheists that live to a ripe old age.

However, death is the great equaliser. And whether we are believers or atheists, to some extent we fear it. 

“In a world where death is the hunter, my friend, there is no time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for decisions.”

Carlos Castaneda

Spiritually conscious people in part have hope which is an alternative to our innate fear of death.

As a child I felt a great sense of loss when our six Labrador puppies drowned in our swimming pool. It was my first real taste of mortality. I realised that my parents would one day die, and be gone forever. That filled me with deep sadness. When I realised that I would one day be gone too, I was left in a state of terror. 

When I was six, I stumbled upon the answer: Die before you die. Of course, you’re smart enough to know there’s no way I ‘stumbled’ onto the answer. It was revealed to me. 

Many spiritual teachers and philosophers advocate for dying before you die. 

For six months, I would return home from my Sub A class at Zonnekus Primary School in Milnerton. I would close the curtains of my room, get into bed, and pray to die. At that time I was proximate and intimate with death. 

I can’t fathom the reason for this. Perhaps, I knew that this life of mine wouldn’t be easy, and I wanted the coward’s way out so that I didn’t have to face it. Or perhaps the demon that had assailed me when I was two had come back. The exorcist thought not and the psychologist just said I was channelling Jung.

Even at that young age, contemplating the end of my life led me to deep introspection, growth and joy. I came out of the experience changed. I would say my spiritual journey started then. I believed in an afterlife or a forever-life since the soul is permanent.

“Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

Steve Jobs

So whether we are a believer or an atheist, once we lose the fear of death, things shift for us. Believing in an afterlife, whether real or not, can bring us a sense of well-being and peace.

If you find the idea of an afterlife and ever-life hard to believe, then believing that your purpose is to make a difference should bring you a feeling of well-being and peace.

“Without death, life would be meaningless. To be, and to enjoy your being, you need death, and limitation enables you to fulfil your being.”

Carl Jung

I think that all of us should have the experience of dying before we die so that we can appreciate this extraordinary life that we have now. What do you think?

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