ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Literary Interpretation of Ecclesiastes: The Power Of Loss And Death

Updated on July 10, 2012

Let's Go Down, Down, Down

In this verse of Ecclesiastes, there is a teaching of loss and death, one that echoes in all major world religions: losing increases detachment and gives people freedom more than winning does. Not that winning is bad; in fact, everyone wants to win, but it's much easier to win when you look at the advantages of the losses, which are inevitable for all. Here are the lines that speak of this wisdom, taken from Book 7 of Ecclesiastes:

7: (1-4)

[[ A good name is better than precious ointment,

And the day of death than the day of one's birth

It is better to go to the house of mourning

Than to go to the house of feasting,

For that is the end of all men;

And the living will take it to heart.

Sorrow is better than laughter

For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning

But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.]]

Especially today, in a culture that favors the light side, the good news, the laughter, the checking-out and escapism of feel-good drugs, the darkness of loss and death remains superior for strengthening the soul. Why do you think so many writers and artists have a melancholy temperament, and yet at the same time it is those very people who seem most likely to seek meaning, profound articulations, and the deep seas of wisdom! It's sometimes seen as a bad thing that needs to be fixed, but maybe grief and sorrow are the best teachers of all, and moreover, the desire to "fix" them is the exact problem. Perhaps crying is the shedding of the past, the releasing of toxins, while laughter too often is used to mask the buried residue of wounds we don't want to look at.

On the more external level, loss of people and loss of things can often be a freedom from dependence of those things, from a crutch that is no longer necessary, for a chasing after outside remedies to paste onto our identities, building them up in a chase for perfection and validation that never ends. If anything, the book of Ecclesiastes is ingenious for pointing out the lowest common denominator of all: death and dust. It's at once the destruction of everything held dear and at the same time freedom from it, alas, complete and perfect freedom. The Hindu concept of "Die while living," is palpable in Ecclesiastes, the awareness of death is the freedom from the fear of life and all of life's apparent dangers. Nothing is dangerous on earth - you're going to die anyway! And in death, all is lost; the more attachment to the accumulation of things, the more "adding on," the more of a shock the subtraction of everything is at the end.

And paradoxically, the old law that in order to get anything you must be detached from getting it - this is the way. Detachment is learned best through loss, and if loss is fully mastered, as a concept, one begins to understand that nothing is ever lost because no one ever has anything to begin with. As Leonard Cohen sings in his song, Passing Through, the earth is just a temporary station, where we enter with nothing and leave with nothing. This is guaranteed and universal - so why all this focus on all this stuff and this civilization we obsess about endlessly?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ramerican profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      thanks for getting it! there's something so noursihing and meaningful in sorrow and death and grief...and moreover, I enjoy mourning. in latin america, they often make huge festivities about the day of the dead and seem to embrace death. somehow, here, everybody gets convinced that if you're not happy and "fine" all the time that you are weak. thanks again!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      " It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting"

      I found this very appropriate and very interesting, our modern culture need to learn how to deal with pain and grief.

      We celebrate their life when a love one dies, there is a desperation to feel happy when everyone is hurting in side, we're told we can't wear black, too depressing. a good interesting write. voting up


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)