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Question: Emotionally, I am very scared about death. If I think about it, I get scared. May be a part of myself knows that there is something else. But emotionally, a part of myself is terrified..
Acharya Prashant: What is your imagination about death?
Listener 1: Losing everything. Not being anything.
AP: Now imagine more. Imagine that it has actually happened.
You are still able to imagine. Right?
That means you are still alive.
So, death has happened and you are still alive. The death that you are afraid of was in the imagination. In the imagination itself, we let that death happen, fully happen. You’re still alive. Don’t suppress it. Death has happened and you are gone. And your body is now swollen. And two or three are crying. Alright, twenty or thirty, to please your ego.
And they are carrying the coffin and you know the rest of it. And some fat priest has been called. And he is coming in an old car, which gets punctured and it’s raining. And he hasn’t yet arrived and people are cursing you for dying at the wrong time.
What do you think, your death is a serious affair! I have never seen a serious corpse. I always felt them very funny. Somebody is tilting to one side. Somebody, not prepared to fold his hands. Once I raised one up, and he burped
It’s a very basic thing. Okay, in your country may be there are not so many dogs dying on the road. But there was a time when I would see a dog crushed on the road, it would remind me of my own fate. In India, every second kilometer you have some dog lying dead on the road. And there is hardly any car driver who would have not killed one or two dog, if he has been driving since long. The dog is a healthy dog and it comes running and it’s no more. That’s what we are. No more!
Let your worst images regarding death be taken as factual. Even after taking them as factual, you will still survive. You are still there.
“Alright, yes, I am going to die. And I am going to die badly.” Now? Now what to do right now?
“Yes, accepted. I am dying. And I am dying in a very bad way. Now what to do right now?”
Sit and cry? Mourn?
No! Order a pizza and eat.
Accept it that you will be lying crushed on the road.
As college students, we used to have very cruel ways of spiritual elevation! So somebody would be eating a samosa along with tomato ketchup; someone else would say, this tomato ketchup is so much like that stuff that was oozing out of that dog on the road.
And he would say, “Ah! Wonderful. Let me have a little more of it.”
Now, you are comfortable with death. Be comfortable. Yes, of course it’s happening. Of course, it’s happening!
Go to graveyards, watch dead bodies. I encourage that as a Teacher. See a body burning and you will lose all seriousness that you have about your own body. You must see how the body burns. You must see. India is just the right place to see that. Here in Rishikesh also, you must be having a Shamshan Ghaat, you must go there. You know what a Shamshan Ghaat is? Where you have all the funerals, all the pyres burning.
There they arrange this bed of woods – the pyre – keep the body on that, put some more wood on the body. And then some ghee is poured and some incense, and some other fancy stuff, and then somebody comes and lights the pyre. After some time, the son comes with a hammer and breaks the skull. And stuff comes out of the skull.
And that’s me, and that’s you.
Accepted. Dead. Not in the future, already dead.
Now what to do?
Order a pizza. Go and dance, have fun. Read something nice; sleep. Go play, or kiss someone. Now you are already dead. Now you can be free of the worry of death, right? If you are already dead, do you need to still worry about death? So, totally accepted. I am gone. See, that is my body. I am gone.
Only the dead ones can live.
So, die fully and die completely, so that you may live.
Those who are afraid of dying, they will never be able to live.
Die. Die fully.
L2: How do you do that?
AP: By not blocking that which is anyway dying.
Why is she afraid? Because there is something that is dying every day. And she doesn’t want to acknowledge that. Doesn’t want to let go of that. Death is a fact of the body. The material that is configured in this way, loses this configuration, meets the soil. It will happen. Accept that fully and then ask yourself, ‘now what to do?’
Weep over it? Okay, weep as long as you want to weep. Soon you will be dehydrated because of weeping too much. Then? Get some nice drink for yourself, some fancy juice. You are dehydrated, you have wept so much! You have to live.
In India, there was this practice that women must not visit the Shamshan Ghaat. That has done a lot of damage. Women became feeble hearted. It is extremely important to not only give birth, but also to see death. Women keep giving birth and so they become attached only to one end of duality — Birth; more life, more life.
Even more important than men, it is important for women to watch dead bodies. Because they are the ones who give birth to these bodies. And take this body as already dead. Then play with it. Then take care of it. Take this as already dead. Now, that this has to go, why must I cling to it? It does not belong to me. It’s a matter of time, any day it will go. So I let it go anyhow. Now you are gone. You are not mine. I disown you.
After disowning it, play with it.
So, die right now. Now the body is gone. Now you are free to play with the body.
Dying is like settling your debts.
The body is a debt, it has to be paid. Somebody will take it away.
Settle your debt right now, then you will be free to enjoy.
Don’t you want to die?
AP: Dead already?
Listeners (in elated voices): Yes!
L1: Now? After death?
AP: After death?
Only after death.
L4: Is there something that functions, like is there a mind after death? The being who die, are they conscious? Do they have thoughts? Do they still think they are alive?
AP: Anything that you can call as ‘yours’ goes away with the body.
Whatever took birth, will die.
Whatever is yours, will die.
L4: So, no attachment whatsoever after death.
AP: Yes. There is no need to entertain oneself with the notion that even after death, some part of me will remain or I will take birth again. The sea keeps giving rise to more and more waves but the individual wave never comes back again. The individual wave has no right to think that it will be reborn. Yes, the sea is there and the waves keep coming. But, if one particular wave says, “I am going, dying into the sea now and soon I will be reborn.”
No! You won’t be reborn. The sea will be reborn. You aren’t reborn.
Whatever you call as ‘yourself’, whatever that took birth along with you — your relationships, your name, your memories, your identities — everything that took birth along with you will die. Let’s not make bones about this. We will have to bluntly accept this.
L5: What about consciousness?
AP: Consciousness is our own; it will die.
What we call as consciousness is just thoughts. They go. Is there consciousness without the body? Do you feel conscious even after having a few drinks? You do something with the body and consciousness starts wobbling. Somebody strikes your head with a hammer, just a little; not strike, just you know, knock gently. And what happens to your consciousness?
Your consciousness cannot even take the gentle knocks of a toy hammer.
How will it survive the leaping flames of the funeral pyre?
So, have no expectation that you know, “Oh! I will die but my love will survive.”
L6: What about the innate tendencies? The Vasanas, Sanskaras?
AP: They are not yours. They belong to the evolution, they will stay with evolution. You have an innate tendency of, for example, fear. Somebody else will be born with that same tendency. But that somebody else is not you. So, you cannot hope that you are being reborn as that person. You had a Vritti (innate tendency) of fear, he too has a Vritti of fear, but just because somebody else is born with the same Vritti, would you say that you have reincarnated?
You have only this life.
Make the best of it.
Order a pizza 🙂
L8: Even the bible mentions about reincarnation?
AP: Reincarnation does happen. We said the sea reincarnates, not the wave.
Of course, there is reincarnation but not yours. You are a wave. The wave comes and goes, goes totally forever. Then the sea again gives rise to another wave. That other wave contains a bit of all the waves that have been.
So, in every wave, the entire existence is reincarnating.
L8: Then, there is no karma. Do your deeds whole life, then without paying go back to the sea.
AP: You are already bearing consequences. Karma does not mean that you will bear consequences in future; you become conscious in future. Law of karma doesn’t say that you will do it today and suffer tomorrow. Karma is that cause and effect are simultaneous.
The very origin of wrong action is the suffering itself.
Had you not been suffering, how could you have given rise to bad karma? It is not that bad karma gives rise to suffering; it is that you are already suffering, hence, you are giving rise to bad karma. Kindly, do not believe in that nonsense — If you do bad karma today, then after twenty thousand years you will have to pay the price. If you are doing bad karma today, the price has already been paid. The price is your suffering. You may realize it later. You went to an improper place and got a virus. You shouldn’t have gone to that place.
L3: So Karma belongs to this life?
AP: Of course, not only this life, this moment. You went somewhere and got infected by a virus. The virus has a certain, what do you call it, the gestation period?
So, the symptoms start appearing after two months. So, would you say that the cause was two months back and effect is two months later? Would you say that? No! If you are wise enough, you would realize that cause and effect are simultaneous. “The moment I went to that place, I got infected.” But it is showing up later on.
L9: Let’s take a different example: I am murdering you and I get away with it. And with my whole life…
AP: Do you murder me in Joy? Do you murder me because you’re blissful? So, in the murder itself lies the suffering. You require no court to punish you. Had you been blissful, would you have murdered me? And if you are murdering me in bliss, then there would be no Karmphal (fruits of the action) attached with this.
Anything done in Joy, does not constitute Karma.
It has no result. It is free of future and results.
Karma is only when you operate from a point of suffering.
Only when you operate from the wrong center, that you bear the results of the action.
Otherwise, there are no results of the action. No Karmphal.
There is a famous verse by Gorakhnath –
Maro, he Jogi, maro! Maro, maran hai meetha.
Aisi marni maro, jis marni gorakh mar jeetha.
(Die, Oh! Yogi die. Die, the death is sweet.
Die in a way Gorakh dies and came alive.)
Gorakhnath is a saint, in fact, he lies at the beginning of saint tradition. He is advising all the Yogis, he is saying,
Maro, he Jogi, maro! (Die, Oh! Yogi die)
Maro, maran hai meetha, (Die, for death is so sweet.)
Aisi marni maro (Die in a way)
Jis marni gorakh mar jeetha (Die in a way Gorakh died and came alive)
Unless you die, you cannot come alive.
And it’s well known. It was never hidden. It is part of the folklore here in India; nothing was ever hidden.
Die and come alive.
L9: Normally, does the moment of your death matter at all?
AP: That matters but much more significant than that particular one moment are all these infinite moments when you are alive. Why don’t you talk about these moments? Death will be one moment and you are so obsessed with it. And you are not talking about the series of these infinite moments that you are missing out on.
L6: But the soul has to go back from where it has come.
AP: From where did it come that it has to go back? Who told you that the soul comes? And how does it come? By hiring a taxi or something! On a spacecraft? “Soul comes” — fancy notions! Who told you this?
The soul is that which can neither come nor ever go. That is the soul. If it comes and goes it is some illusory idea. Only ideas come and go. The soul, the Truth, by definition, is that which is Achal — not moving, not transitory.
L2: So, then you are saying that there is no Karma from one lifetime to the next lifetime. When you are born, you’re born fresh, completely without Karma?
AP: You bear the Karma of the entire history of mankind.
A wave is there, let’s say the wave gets polluted. And then the wave dies into the sea. What will happen to all the pollution? That will get distributed between ten other waves. So, when you are born, you contain the karma of entire mankind, of entire evolutionary process. Not your karma in particular. Whatever is particular to you dies totally. What belongs to the evolution in general, that survives and that is reincarnated.
Are you paying only for your sins?
You may be carrying a genetic disease, is it your Karma? Somebody else did some mischief, you are paying for it. May be one’s grandmother had sex with… and you have this genetic disorder now. How is it your own karma?
Whatever happens in the entire universe, gets manifested in your form and that is the law of Karma.
We all are linked.
L5: How many times must I die?
AP: Till this question also dies.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: After you die, order a pizza for yourself