Dasein

Those who are familiar with the German language may concur with the suggestion that certain German terms are more suited for interpretation rather than definition. The term “Dasein” is perhaps one of those terms best suited for interpretation. In a larger sense – and when considering first-hand and personal experience – “Dasein” equates to the removal of “attachments” in order to make way for “liberation” from “pseudo-living.” Martin Heidegger is the Western philosopher best known for his focus on the concept or practice known as “Dasein.” Heidegger argued that “Dasein” is “distinctively different from other beings.” Heidegger added: “Dasein is a being that does not simply occur among other beings. Rather it is ontically distinguished by the fact that in its Being this being is concerned about its very being.”

In turn, the whole idea behind the concept or practice of “Dasein” is that the issue of existence – as well as the issue of death as the only certain possibility of existence – manifests into the “power of being” if it were to truly occupy one’s thoughts in a thorough manner. In turn, the “secrecy” of this power compels a truly contemplative person to “hide” from the distractions emanating from “pseudo-living.” As Epictetus wrote in “The Art of Living”: “Keeping your will in harmony with truth and concerning yourself with what is beyond your control are mutually exclusive. While you are absorbed in one, you will neglect the other.”

Moreover, the modern person’s preoccupation with exhausting work and hedonism is merely a distraction from the key issues or questions of existence and self-consciousness which are reckoned with through the practice of “Dasein.” Absent of distraction and diversion of one’s attention away from these key existential issues amounts in many cases to what Irvin Yalom called “death anxiety.”

The ability to diminish the anxiety or the fear which comes with facing such key existential issues and questions in a state of detachment and isolation – otherwise known as “Dasein,” and one must note that this anxiety or fear is completely normal and natural – means that the diminution of the anxiety and fear to a low quantity can be considered as a sign that “pseudo-living” is approaching its demise. In essence, anxiety – but especially the diminution of anxiety over the course of time – is a good sign that there is a conscious reckoning with the aforementioned existential issues such as the meaning and purpose of existence as well as death as the only certain possibility of existence.

Once the “death anxiety” is effectively managed and overcome through education and lifestyle changes while acknowledging and internalizing the reality that death is the only guaranteed truth of one’s existence, the result is authentic, healthy, and meaningful living. In fact, the ability to overcome anxiety or the fear of death through the course of time is directly linked with the acknowledgment and internalization of death and the afterlife as the only true reality. As the Holy Quran states: “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive to God, who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to Him.”

Moreover, the status quo of popular lifestyle and mode of living is very much incompatible with an authentic, healthy, and meaningful lifestyle and mode of living. For instance, America wields only about 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes about 75 percent of the world’s drugs and medicines. Thus, preoccupation with mundane issues and the lifestyle that accompanies a preoccupation with mundane issues amounts to ignorance and superficiality on a grand scale, in addition to the adverse manifestations of such ignorance and superficiality. Nor is a death while in a state of ignorance and superficiality an ideal way of dying.

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