I came across a saying the other day, that “without the realisation of coming death, there would not be religion.” It strikes me as something that is true, religions are very concerned with having the answer to death. All the religions I’ve looked at in detail have this trait, they all talk about what comes afterwards.
With Buddhism it reminds me of the story of the Buddha’s motivation for going forth, a man suffering illness, a man in old age, and a dead man. It is the coming death, the end of life, which causes him to take up sannyas, to go and discover the inner life. Then the focus shifts to suffering later.
It seems to be one of the core questions of life, what happens when you die. People are so anxious to have an answer for it that they will believe any credible person who says they know, even without proof. But nowadays there is a little lifting of the shroud, in the near-death experience, where we can say with some certainty that there is some experience after death. It is a form of crowdsourcing an answer.
“Death overcomes him when gathering flowers he seeks to have his fill...”