You are born. Some stuff happens in the middle. Then you die.
“May I ask just one question?” put in one of the others. “In what manner should one live one’s daily life?”
As though one were living for that single day, for that single hour.
If you had only one hour to live, what would you do?
“I really don’t know,” he replied anxiously.
Would you not arrange what is necessary outwardly, your affairs, your will, and so on? Would you not call your family and friends together and ask their forgiveness for the harm that you might have done to them, and forgive them for whatever harm they might have done to you? Would you not die completely to the things of the mind, to desires and to the world? And if it can be done for an hour, then it can also be done for the days and years that may remain.
“Is such a thing really possible, sir?”
Try it and you will find out.
I don’t have much experience with death. There have been only five people who I’ve known personally who have died—four family members and one friend. And during the time of passage, I think we all have similar wistful thoughts. We will miss the person who died. And we think: we must celebrate the moments of our lives, and we must be grateful for what we have, grateful for life itself. We must stop wasting time.
In the Mahabharata, a 50,000-verse ancient Sanskrit epic poem which culminates in the Bhagavad Gita, there is a scene where one of the heroes, Bhima, is presented a riddle by a rakshasha. If he’s right he can pass, if he’s wrong he loses his head. The riddle is “what is the greatest mystery of all time?”
The answer: The greatest mystery is that Man is mortal and yet lives as if he is immortal.
Death is mystery. The trouble is that we can’t leave it as a mystery. We come up with all sorts of theories of existence and death. We believe.
The fear of death is the fear of the end of experience, at least this is how my mind feels it. The end of experience is frightening, because the mind is acquisitive and it is fearful of not having enough time to acquire enough pleasure, things, power, status, time, approval and so on. The mind wants enough time to complete its incomplete-able story. The fear of death is also projected onto others; it is my fear of how I will feel when a loved one dies. So, it’s really the fear of my own feelings.
In western countries, we fear death perhaps more because it is something we hide. In India, death is treated very differently. My grandmother passed away four years ago. There were rituals and and the body was prepared in the house, openly, with children running around and family and guests visiting. There was mourning of course, but mostly there was the consensus that this was a happy time, as she was finally free of an ailing body. Indians mourn and fear death like most human beings, but the energy is different because death is never hidden. During the ride to the crematorium in a hearse-like bus, people in that part of India stop whatever they’re doing and momentarily touch their fingers to their hearts, saying good-bye. It’s a nice tradition. The pyre is outside and anyone, including children of all ages, can view the open-flame cremation.
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
Anthony de Mello reminds us, it’s more useful to worry about life before death rather than after.
I don’t know about death.
I do know about life. I do know that it is possible to be easy with life, where life and living are one, where in our true nature, we are easy and peaceful. All we have to do is to stop identifying—stop identifying with beliefs and ego and mind and identities. I talk about Awareness and Release, but there many other simple portals, available to everyone. I like the openings which are available to all of us in the daily aspects of our lives. I like the ones that don’t make any pretense of requiring us to jump through spiritual hoops and hierarchies. Eckhart Tolle talks about Presence and Acceptance, Geneen Roth talks about conscious eating, Candice O’Denver talks about simple awareness, Adyshanti talks of simple meditation, and there are many others (External Resources). It does not take religion or spirituality and you don’t have to be special or blessed or strong. Come as you are. That’s perfect.
There’s only one way to crack through the cement wall that you have surrounded yourself with. I’m going to give it to you now and I want you to remember it and try to connect it and practice it. There’s only one way to break out of your building false securities, which is to suffer knowingly, intentionally, without looking for an answer. Now there it is. You can save yourself years of work if you take that home, write it in your own words and examine it.
Crack through the delusions. Enjoy life. You will have plenty of time to be dead.