My dear friend June has suffered when she lost her father.The suffering was long and painful but she emerged triumphant ( & like so many others who are suffering now too silently with individual bereavements ). And June made me ask myself these inward questions on life and death.
Why do we divide life and death ? Is living separate from death ? Or is death a part of living ? Or it may is to that we do not fully know what living is and that is why death seems such a terrible thing , something to be shunned , to be avoided . Is not living part of dying ? Am i living if i am constantly accumulating property ( a large flat in Udita ) , money ( a safe pension plan ) , position ( a Vice President in a large multinational ) , as well as some basic “knowledge” of life and living and grey shades of virtue , all of which i cherish and brutally hold onto ? I am calling this living , but is this living ? Is not that whole process merely a series of struggles , contradictions , miseries and frustrations ? But we call it living , and so we want to know what death is.We know that death is the end of all of us. The body the physical organism wears and dies. Seeing this the mind says i have lived , i have gathered , i have suffered and what is to happen to me ? what lies for me beyond death ? Not knowing what lies beyond death , my mind is afraid of death , so it begins to invent ideas , of comforting theories of reincarnation of resurrection or often perhaps goes back and lives in the past.
That is essentially what we are all doing . Our life is over shadowed by this thing called death and we want to know if there is any form of continuity. Or else we are so sick of life that we want to die and we are horrified at the thought that there may be beyond.
Now what is the answer to all of this ? Why have we separated death from living and why does the mind cling to continuity ? Cannot the mind be aware of that which is calls death in the same way that it knows living ? Can it not be aware of the whole significance of dying. ? We know what our life is – a process of gathering , enjoying , suffering , renouncing , searching , and constant anxiety. This is our existence, and in that there is continuity. i know that i am alive because i am aware of suffering , of enjoyment , the memory goes on and the past experiences colour my future experiences. There is a sense of continuity , this momentum of a series of punctuated events linked by memory.i know this process and i call this living . But do i know what death is ? Can i ever know it ? We are not asking what lies beyond , which is really not very important. But can one know or experience the meaning of what is called death while actually living ? While i am conscious , physically vigorous , while my mind is clear and capable of thinking , without any sentimentality or emotionalism , can i directly experience this thing called death ? I know what living is , and can i in the same way with the same vigour the same potency know the meaning of death ? If i merely die at the moment through disease , or through some accident , i shall not know.
So the problem is not what lies beyond death or how to avoid fear of death. You cannot avoid the fear of death so long as the mind accumulates for itself a series of events and experiences linked by memory , because the ending of it all is what we actually fear.
Surely that which has continuity is never creative. Only the mind which dies to everything from moment to moment really knows what is to die. This is not emotionalism and requires a great deal of thought and insight and enquiry. We can know death , as well as life , while living : while living we can enter the house of death , the unknown. But for the mind , which is the result of the known , to enter the unknown , there must be a cessation of all that is known, of all things that it has gathered – not only consciously , but much more profoundly , in the unconscious. To wipe all that away is to die., and then we shall find there is no fear. Can the mind be nothing , with no residue of the past ? But the mind merely clings to what it calls living – which is suffering , this while process of accumulation – and tries to avoid the other , then it knows neither life or death.
So the problem is to free the mind from the known, from all the things it has gathered , acquired , experienced , so that it is made innocent and can therefore understand that which is death, the unknowable.
Let us all die in this freedom from our past from all our accumulations . Its only then can we see the first glorious rays of hope and of infinite white love..