In Perspective


Respecting Death by Seeking The Meaning of Life

The atmosphere was tense in most offices during the 2008 financial crisis but this was especially true at  City Financial Bank. In a strategy to increase the yields on its assets in the 1990s the bank acquired a large subprime mortgage lender, and by 2007 their residential mortgage loans had exceeded their amount of commercial loans.

Needless to say, City Financial suffered great losses as the subprime mortgage market collapsed and had to send home hundreds of its employees. The seemingly endless weekly layoffs had most of the employees on edge because they sensed it was just a matter of time before the bank goes bankrupt.

With  a mortgage, student loan and car payments, Gary could not afford to lose his job. He became so anxious and consumed with worry that he had no appetite. He was fed up with his condition and decided to talk with his colleague, Cheung. Cheung’s greatest quality was his inner equanimity which inspired confidence in those around him.

After sharing his fears with Cheung about being laid off with no money to pay his bills, Cheung  gently placed his right hand on Gary’s left shoulder and shared with him an ancient Chinese saying which his father often repeated to him in his teenage years…

If you do not take death seriously, life will plunge you into seriousness. But if you live with death in mind, life will not be able to harm you. With death in mind and that which follows it, you will stride through life as one who lives it, and feels not its severity.


Taking death seriously means respecting death by seeking the meaning of life. The hardships of life which we all experience at some point is more bearable to the individual who respects life, death and the afterlife. It is strange that so little attention is paid to this very thing which would enlighten us on all else. With respect for life, death and the afterlife, the impact of life’s difficulties become less severe because they are now seen in the context of a broader picture.