Teddy McArdles life is not that of your average ten year old boy. His Buddhist principles have given him a different outlook on life and death. If one can anticipate the future, depending on ones philosophy of life and system of beliefs, he/she can either accept it or try to change it,. Teddy chooses to follow the path that he perceives has been traced for him and leads to his early death, whereas I might try to prevent such unfortunate circumstances as I believe that I have more to accomplish or learn at this time, in my life.
Teddy is led by his Buddhist principles and has achieved a level of enlightenment through meditation: I was just a person making very nice spiritual advancement. (Salinger, p.188) He believes in reincarnation until Nirvana is reached. When talking to Nicholson, he refers to one of his past lives when he met a lady and sort of stopped meditating (Salinger, p.188). He feels that he fell from Grace before final Illumination and would have had to take another body and come back to earth again anyway (Salinger,p188). In his view, his being reborn repeatedly is essential to achieving the necessary spiritual level to reach God and stay with Him eternally without having to come back on earth again. Why then would he try to prevent his foreseen death? Teddy affirms that people want to keep on being born and dying: They just want new bodies all the time, instead of stopping and staying with God, where its really nice. (Salinger, p.191) Teddy will not save his life because his beliefs are contrary to other religious traditions teaching that one reunites with God upon death without
having to be reborn repeatedly as a form of punishment for not reaching a required level of spirituality: put simply, Gods forgiveness as opposed to bad karma.
According to Teddy, Logics the first thing you have to get rid of (Salinger,p.190) in order to see things as they really are (Salinger,p.191). Using logic to me would be beneficial as it would help me want to avoid death, if possible, but given Teddys convictions, doing the logical thing is precisely against his religion. That explains his decision to accept his faith and let happen what is in store for him.
Teddy has no fear of death: All you do is get the heck out of your body when you die. My gosh, everybodys done it thousands and thousands of times. Just because they dont remember it doesnt mean they havent done it.(Salinger, p.193) While in conversation with Nicholson, he describes the circumstances of his death at the pool where he is to take his next swimming lesson. Afterwards, he is even eager to get going, marching towards his faith, never making an attempt to avoid the foreseen outcome by skipping the upcoming event. Why would he concern himself with the prospect of his approaching death since, in his mind, it is a necessary evil in order to progress closer towards Paradise? Teddys lack of fear prevents him from changing his foreseen future and makes him welcome the opportunity to get one step closer on the path to Brahma.
Teddy lives and dies according to the law of karma. Any attempt to save his life would be in direct opposition with his philosophy. Any such action from his part would only contribute to slow down his lengthy voyage on this planet. On the other end, those who believe in a compassionate God cannot live by such unforgiving ideas and would take extraordinary steps to save their own life, if they could, to keep learning and improving themselves. Teddy would not think of saving his life because he firmly believes that ones improvement is achieved through the rebirthing process he is already pursuing.