Martin Heidegger’s philosophy is deep and complex, and yet he makes statements that are simple and Zen-like. Zen is accepting things as they are and not fighting the flow. This includes the Zen approach to death, which is Life and Death are one. It is a continuum. There is no dividing line between them. As in the world of form, there is actually no dividing line between anything, there only seems to be to our perceptions. Everything interacts as part of a cosmic dance of chemicals, atoms, and non-physical elements. All is one underneath it all.
Heidegger made this statement:
"If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become myself.”
He is saying that our fear of death and our craving to “make something” out of our lives puts us on a hamster wheel of tasks and to-do lists that never end but don’t lead to peace, joy, or understanding of our true selves. Instead of being in denial about our own physical death, if we face that it is inevitable, we won’t scramble around living life on the surface. It’s like the Kamikaze fighter who crashed his plane but didn’t die. He expected to. die And when he survived he felt renewed, as if he saw life and all its glory for the first time.
Heidegger also said, “Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.” He is saying that we are more than the physical bodies, which, like snowflakes are all individual but form the totality of the snowfield. Or like raindrops falling into the ocean. The individuality disappears, once we cross over into death.
This is Zen-like because of the emphasis, that after all, All is One. We realize that the deepest level of our life, what in Zen is called the "true self," is always here-and-now. This true self, even though here-and-now, is always changing. When we are born we enter the world of change and when we die we enter the world of change. It is always the same yet always changing. If we don’t realize this, we live deluded lives. That is why Heidegger said, “Transcendence constitutes selfhood.”