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Hi Kathleen. It's more than a year since you emailed "On Being" after Joan Halifax's interview. On Being is not on air in my region, and I have only recently started to listen to it online. As a Hospice nurse it is possible my late response might still be of use to you.
The creation myth of the Hawaiian people, from their traditional pre-Christian religion, has much too offer.
I do not know if it was God or the Gods, and I do not know if they made one human couple first or a group (I have more research to do, myself), but the first humans, like God or the Gods, were immortal. Woman or Women said to God or the Gods, "I want children," and the response was; "There isn't any room." So Woman or Women said, "I will die that there will be room for my children." They lived on small islands, after all.
Their insights, enriched by modern science, make much sense on the small island planet Earth. Here on small island Earth the human population keeps increasing and all the living animal populations which we eat are shrinking. Were we immortal having children might become illegal. . . in order that those who remain might continue to eat.
There is a sense in which single celled life does not die of old age. By splitting, a single cell isn't a parent that has had a child; which of the two new cells is the parent and which is the child? It has cloned itself; it has created itself into identical twins. There is sense in which the very first single celled blue algae, the first life on Earth that stuck, is still alive, and is 3 billion years old. The mixing of DNA in sexual reproduction is an immeasurable aid to evolution.
These are two extremely valuable reasons to celebrate death. It makes room for children, and it makes evolution into many life forms possible.
I'm a meditation teacher. These questions are of concern to me in my work life, too.
Perhaps you got lots of answers to your email to the On Being blog. I do not expect a reply from you, but would welcome one should you choose to respond. If you do email me put something about the On Being blog in the header. I get lots of spam and delete things without much thought when I don't recognize the sender.
Either way; many thanks to you for the good work you do in the world.