Primal fear of death

As seems quite common in this process, a primal fear of death has come up for me for a while now. It was very strong for some months up to about a year ago, and now comes up a little less intensely.

What is is about?

It’s about the death of who I take myself to be, and this takes two forms: (a) The death of identification with images and ideas about who I am – a human being etc. (b) The physical death of this body. And the latter is of course really about the former. If I take myself to be this body, then the death of this body is perceived as the death of me. It’s all about identification and beliefs.

The invitation here is for two things:

(a) Open to the fear and the impulse to recoil from it. Take it as an inquiry and notice what happens when I recoil from it, and what happens when I open to it all. Ask myself, is it true I cannot take it? Is it true it’s too much? Is it true it’s (the fear, the impulse to recoil) is not already allowed? Not already opened to?

And (b) identify and inquire into (i) the beliefs behind this fear, and (ii) the beliefs behind the resistance to the fear.

(i) It’s terrible to die. I will die. Death means…. What I fear the most about death is…..

(ii) It’s overwhelming. It’s too much. This dread/terror means something terrible has happened/will happen. It’s easier to recoil. Something terrible will happen if I open to it. I am not up to the task. I need to be up to the task. What I am most afraid would happen if I open to this dread/terror is….

I am struck by how beautifully the crucifixion story captures this process in a nutshell. Jesus knows he will be crucified, he has a very human moment where he asks to not have to go through it, and then opens to it. Allowing this death opens for what he really is, Christ, to more fully and consciously emerge. And that’s how it is for all of us. In the Jesus story, it represented as a physical death. And it’s really about the death of who we take ourselves to be, the death of identifications. And that may well be experienced as dramatically as it’s represented in the Jesus story. To put it less dramatically, and more simply, it’s about finding clarity on thoughts of who I am.



It is partly about the death of who I take myself to be. A death of identification with images of who I am – a human being etc.

And it seems equally to be a dread and terror coming up around the physical death. A primal fear of physical death.

And the two are very similar in experience. It’s a fear of the death of who I take myself to be.

One thought to “Primal fear of death”

  1. Beautiful, and clear…thank you 🙂

    Yes, who would we be without the story of identification with this body, a limited life, a vulnerability to death, a past and a future?
    I love when Katie says ‘A fear of death is really a fear of life’ – for me this includes any fear coming from a realisation of no control or no predictability/certainty. Challenging for this mind, sometimes 😉

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