An astrologer comes to you and offers to tell you about your future. He starts with your past. He speaks affirmatively and gets 3 out of 5 incidents correct about your life so far. You begin to trust his abilities as a fortune teller. You start questioning him about the future. What would be your questions? Would you ask him about when will you fall in love? When will you get married? When will you have success in you career, life? I bet all of us will ask every possible question to an astrologer, but we will never ask him when, where & how are we going to die?
Death is scary. It scares us to such an extent that we just turn a blind eye towards it. It takes place on daily basis, every minute, every second, someone dies. But we manage to make ourselves understand that we will, somehow, not die soon.
Wikipedia describes death as the cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. This definition is correct and acceptable as per the science. But science is not the only thing that runs the world.
Most of us see death as our enemy. We avoid ‘talking’ about it because we are sub-consciously aware that we cannot avoid death itself.
Death cannot be the enemy because it is part of our existence. Existence has given birth to us, existence is mothering us, nurturing us. And when we die, we simply go back to our original source, to rest for a while, and to be born again. There is no need to be afraid. We will not die. We will only disappear, like a snowflake in pure air. Our existence will disappear into non-existent, our form will disappear into formlessness, the river will disappear into the ocean, but it will not cease to exist. It will become even wider, vaster, it will become oceanic.
A rich man will always be more afraid of death than a poor man. The fear of death is not really the fear of death. The fear of dying comes out of the accumulations of life. When we have too much to lose, we cling to it. That’s exactly why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” I don’t mean become a beggar, and I don’t mean renounce the world. I mean be in the world, but don’t be of the world. Don’t accumulate inside. Never possess anything and then we are ready to die. The more we possess, the more we are afraid to lose. If we don’t possess anything, if our purity, if our spirit is uncontaminated by anything, if we are simply there alone, we will disappear any moment, whenever death knocks on the door, it will find us ready. We are not losing anything. By going to death, we are not losers. We may be moving into a new experience.
Its not necessary that Death is an experience only for those who die. Death is a great teacher in itself. It has taught me. Thrice.
My Maami died in 1997 and it was my first encounter with death. I came home from school and got to know about it. My mother had left instructions for me to come & join the funeral. I loved Maami. She took great care of me whenever I used to spend nights at her home. She caught jaundice in 1995 and never recovered from it. She died after 17 years of marriage with my uncle, leaving behind two sons aged 16 & 7. My respect for my uncle rose to sky when he declared that he will not marry again as he was unable to forget his love of 17 years. Six months later, he married on the grounds that his sons of 17 & 8 years old needed a mother to take proper care of them while they were growing. Two years later, his new wife gave birth to a girl whose elder brothers were aged 19 & 10!
My grandfather’s parents lived to the age of over hundred years. He had kept them at his village home and stayed with them. He used to visit the city every three months to draw his pension. The year was 1998. His mother was not feeling well, he gave her medicine and left for the city at the evening to be back home by next evening. His mother did not survived the night. He couldn’t be informed by any means. By the time he reached back home, the relatives had already cremated her mother’s dead body. He did not get to see his mother for the last time. Irony. A couple of years later, his father passed away. Everything happened exactly in the same manner. He did not get to see his father for the last time. Irony, again. He became the laughing stock of everyone. He was a good son who did everything imaginable for his parents during their bedridden years, took good care of them and still couldn’t fire their pyre. May be his karma wasn’t good enough, but everyone around him degraded their karma as well by making fun of an irony.
In yet another instance, last month, my mother’s Taayi died. She was survived by her daughter who’s in her forties. Taayi had a son too, but he died some years ago. Her son had a government job and after his death, a monthly stipend was paid to his mother. Taayi died at around 9 am, on her way to the hospital, in my mother’s lap. When her daughter was informed about Taayi’s death, she instructed them not to call anyone about it and that she was on her way to the hospital. After waiting for more than 3 hours, she didn’t reach. She wasn’t answering her calls either. My parents took release of Taayi’s dead body and took ‘it’ to ‘its’ home. Taayi’s daughter reached home at the afternoon and told my mother that she had gone to the pension office to collect the pension of her brother because if the office had known that Taayi was dead, they would stop the pension instantly.
The current breed of humans breathes for money, for fame, recognition, a stature in society. Nobody thinks about settling accounts with Karma. As an Indian, I believe in reincarnation & the cycle of life. I believe that one has to balance his life in such manner that there is no need to be born again. The cycle has to be stopped and the rider has to depart, for once and forever.
You would be thinking why did I write this article? Why talk about death when everyone knows what happens in death. Body stops functioning, brain stops thinking, eyes stop blinking, lips stop singing, everyone knows it.
Well, a little discussion isn’t harmful. There was a time when people believed that world was flat, now it’s round. Who knows? May be its a cube! Remember, science is not the only thing that runs the world.