[Advaita-l] Dying to live peacefully - part 1

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 25 00:40:57 EST 2017

Dying to Live Peacefully 


Krishna says that which is born has to die – Jatasya hi dhruvo mRityuH, and that which dies has to be reborn, dRivan jnama mRitasya ca. Hence Krishna says everything is conserved in Life. That which is born of food will go back to become food for others, while individual soul takes different bodies that are conducive for its transactions. People are afraid of death. Geeta starts with Arjuna crying for potential death of his loved ones in the war. Krishna says – you are crying where there is no reason for you to cry; and the wise men do not cry for those who are dead or for those who are going to die – gataasuunagataasuncha na anusochanti panditaaH. He justifies his statement by saying that nobody dies even though ‘every body’ dies; for one is not the body. Death of the body is not the death of the individual soul.  One takes up another body, when the current body becomes no more useful for further transactions. Krishna says, it is like getting rid of old clothes for the new ones; hence the wise ones do not cry. 

Death, as we know, is complete separation of oneself from the body. People cry only because they intensely identify themselves with the physical body, and not even aware that they are different from the body. They are not aware of the life after death. ‘Birth is not the beginning of life, and death is not its end’, says Vedanta. It is a continuous flow of life. We have lived many lives in the past and probably will live forever taking different bodies, unless we transcend this beginning-less cycle of birth and death. People are afraid to die, since they cannot perceive what is going to happen when they die; the fear of the unknown. In addition, because of their attachments to the people and things, they do not want to leave the environment they are in.  

In fact, we die peacefully every night. When we go to deep sleep state, we die to everything that is known or unknown. As we go to deep sleep state – called laya – we, as though, dissolve everything, every relationship, every transaction, every expectation, every pain or pleasure, with no more attachment to the loved ones, no bank accounts, no dependence on wealth, no more an employee –employer relationships, no friends or enemies, no taxes to pay, no debts to worry about, no ahankaara or ego or mamakara or notion that this is mine;  we are neither professors or students facing examinations, etc, all are gone without any trace, sometimes even without any warning. No one is afraid to go to deep sleep state, as they are inherently aware that they know that they will be reborn again the next day; and many look forward to it. A mother holding on her new baby with all her love and care, leaves even that relationship, and sleeps peacefully without being a mother or without having a new baby to take care.  In the deep sleep state, we are free from the whole world and its problems.  In fact, there is no time and space even.  It is a homogeneous absence of everything known or unknown, or more correctly the absence of the awareness of everything, known and unknown.  


Factually, we die every moment. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow has not yet come. Last second is gone and the new second has yet to come. We can only live today or in the present. We worry about the dead past and the unknown future. We know that future is based on our past, modified by our present actions. Yet there are unknown elements that frighten us, factors that are beyond our control.  Death can come any time without any warning. We are not prepared to let go – let go of everything that we own, starting from this body. Many of us are not prepared to die peacefully. Hence fear of death is there for many since we do not know when and how it comes; and no one wants or is prepared to die. As per Vedanta, any being generally has six modifications; existence, birth, growth, old-age, disease and death. People are afraid of the last three stages; old-age, disease and death; where experiences are not pleasant. There are theories on how to age gracefully, since it is inevitable. It is natural that with age the body deteriorates, and physiological functions fail one by one, and for the many, it is painful. Death also involves a complete separation from the loved ones. Since it is inevitable, the question is only how to die peacefully, without suffering. For that we should understand the life and death, as it is an unavoidable continuous cycle. People spend enormous amount of time to look younger than what they are, since there is a belief that younger looking people are respected more than the older looking people.


I saw recently interesting quote on the Facebook, posted by the followers of J. Krishnamurthy (JK). The quote says that if we understand the death, we transcend the death; in a way echoing Krishna’s statement that ‘wise ones do not cry for the death’ – na anusochanti panditaaH. We may not cry for the death of the loved ones, but what about our own death; are we afraid of facing the death? Some consider that talking about death is inauspicious, and they are sentimental about it. That is also due to a reflection of the fear of death. Death is considered as inauspicious event. One has to understand that the death is essential to live. If death is inevitable for those who are born, then it is even more important to understand death. Krishna says, if you understand it then you understand that you never die, even when the body dies.   


JK says: “Talking about death –You are afraid of losing the known, not of the unknown. To die to yesterday, to die to every minute, to all the things that you have gathered, is death.

Death is going to strip you of everything - your family, your sons, your character, your ambitions.

So why not strip yourself of all that now? When you do it, then you will know what death is”.

Fundamental question then is how to strip yourself of everything while living? 

To be continued

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