Accept it: You are going to die | AspenTimes.com
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Accept it: You are going to die

Eben Harrell

For the low, low price of $225, you too can die with spiritual certitude.The Spiritual Paths Foundation, a local nonprofit group, is hosting a conference next week entitled “Living Fully: Preparing for the End of Life and Beyond.”The absurdist playwright Arthur Adamov once said, “The refusal to live and the joyful acceptance of life both lead, by the same path, to inevitable failure, total defeat.” For Adamov, the acceptance of death, the knowledge that life will always be defeated, was simply too much – he killed himself shortly after the above utterance.But while death may for some represent a terrifying finality, to Ed Bastian, the Aspen founder of the Spiritual Paths Foundation, this need not be so. Bastian, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy, believes most people are paralyzed by the thought of death, their lives decayed by fear and anger.”Death is something we fear, something we block out,” Bastian said. “This conference will try to develop an understanding of death that allows us to live fully. How much fuller would our lives be if we were not afraid of death?”Bastian’s conference includes speakers from religion, science, philosophy and medical care. A rabbi and a nun will address how their religious traditions regard death. Medical experts will offer insight gained from “palliative care” – the treatment and counseling of terminally ill patients. And a philosopher will trace the history of Western views of death.Bastian calls Aspen the place of “ultimate denial,” where people spend huge amounts of money and effort in a futile attempt to outrun, rather than accept, death. He says the final element in the Aspen ideal – body, mind, spirit – is too often ignored. “We are setting a challenge. Even if you don’t believe in any sort of afterlife, we think this conference can help you accept death,” Bastian said.The conference, which is co-sponsored by The Aspen Institute, will be held July 9-11 at the Aspen Chapel and the Institute’s Meadows campus. Full registration costs $225, and individual lectures can be attended for $100. For more information, call 923-0370.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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