Embracing Change: The Demon of Impermanence and the Wheel of Life
In Western culture, change in one’s life can lead to stress and uncomfortable feelings, particularly when facing death. Losing a family member, a friend or even one’s own life is rarely celebrated or embraced in Western society. Confronting mortality is not seen as a positive attribute in the West. Robert N. Butler (1969) first coined the term age-ism, described as the “ultimate prejudice.” (Angus & Reeve, 2006) Ageism constitutes negative attitudes and behaviors directed at a specific age group. Butler (1969) described it as an “uneasiness” or “distaste” for growing old and death. The concept of “growing old” has been associated with decline and disability. People tend to view the aging population negatively and fear death.
Fear of death is a product of society and stems from deep rooted beliefs influenced by social, political and economic factors. Through multimedia and advertisement an image of perfection is introduced to members of a capitalistic society whereby standards are established for what is considered normal and beautiful. Youth is worshiped in Western culture and its prevalence associated with power and acceptance. (Saucier, 2004)
The media, magazines, and advertisements are partially responsible for this obsession as they emphasize youthful looking skin, healthy hair, and muscular or toned bodies. Visible signs of aging like wrinkles, gray hair, and weight gain do not support these values. As a result, the aging population is viewed as less adequate and aging women feel especially compelled to remain young and beautiful. Saucier (2004) attributes this finding to the under representation of older women on television. Rarely does mass media engage in acceptance of death as a natural process.
Brief Description of the Wheel of Life
The Wheel of Life is held up to us as a mirror by Yama, the God of Death, who sends to human beings the messengers of approaching old-age,...