#4: On Death

In this issue of Tarka, On Death, we explore the topic of death from the perspective of contemplative traditions – including various ways of understanding  and relating to the dying process, consecrating grief and loss, and practices designed to alleviate the suffering generally associated with death.

Tarka Issue #4

On Death

  • Historical, Polemical, and Experimental Essays
  • Introductory Articles on Key Topics
  • Interviews with Vineet Chander, Isa Gucciardi, and Andrew Holecek
  • Three Book Reviews
  • Articles on Practice and Translation

Articles from this Issue

What is Saṃsāra?

Saṃsāra refers to the cycle of death and rebirth. It is the natural cycle of creation, maintenance, and dissolution that all material things undergo.

Kaṭha Upaniṣad: The Secret Teachings of Death

There’s something that you will never forget in your life. I know I haven’t. It’s the first time you see a dead body—the first time you meet Death.

Beyond Living and Dying

Death plays a pivotal role in the history of yoga—the original objective of practice was ending rebirth. At some point between the earliest Vedas and the time of the Buddha a thousand years later, the doctrine of karma changed people’s priorities.

Conquering Death

Haṭha yoga texts, such as the Haṭhapradīpikā, often talk about gaining control over or conquering death.

At a Planetary Crossroads: Contemplative Wisdom of Black Geographies

In more than one contemplative tradition, the crossroads signal literal and metaphorical death. They symbolize a crisis or a point where a shift must be made to claim an alternate future.

From Faculty & Friends: Andrew Holecek

Buddhism has a number of practices that directly prepare you for death. In many ways, the entire path is death in slow motion, where “letting go” in meditation is a euphemism for death.

From Faculty & Friends: Isa Gucciardi

In shamanic practice, there is a deep sense of union with the Earth. Shamans strive to know all her expressions and recognize her as a guide toward wholeness and integration.

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An Interview about Death with Vineet Chander

In the Bhagavad Gītā, Sri Kṛṣṇa offers insights throughout the text and explicitly addresses death in some key passages.

From the Introduction

Often aligned with evil, death appears as the grim reaper, the nefarious gambler, in scary movies, and in ghost stories, yet death is an intimate part of life. For many, death marks the end of existence and is therefore often treated as a kind of ultimate foe or failure. Disease commonly invokes a “battle,” where triumph is the end of illness and a prolonged life, and death is “defeat.” That an individual might heroically endure cancer treatment, and potentially face a myriad of challenges and transformations that come with a terminal diagnosis, only to “succumb” to the disease, highlights the deprivation in our language and attitude towards death. The battle and defeat dialectic lacks nuance and seemingly turns all involved (which is everyone) away from the main event – the great and inevitable cycle of birth and death.

Stephanie Corigliano, TARKA Journal Managing Editor

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On Death

In this issue of Tarka, On Death, we explore the topic of death from the perspective of contemplative traditions – including various ways of understanding and relating to the dying process, consecrating grief and loss, and practices designed to alleviate the suffering generally associated with death.
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  • Issue #4: On Death
  • Issue #5: On Queer Dharma
  • Issue #6: On Spiritual Citizenship
  • Issue #7: On Tantra
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