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Living Well, Dying Well

By Sadhguru Email By Sadhguru
March 2012
Living Well, Dying Well

If you are afraid of death, you will only avoid life, you cannot avoid death.


The very basis of a spiritual longing comes within you not because you think of God. When you think of God, you will not become spiritual, you will only think of how to live better. If God comes and blesses you, you will want more money, more property, more health, more of everything.

But it is only when you think about death, and see that you will also die one day, that different questions arise: What is this about? Where will I go? What will happen to me?

So in yoga, it is not just about life. When we talk about living well, we are actually also talking about dying well. It is very important that you die well. Dying gracefully, joyfully, is very important. It is the final thing that you get to do in your life; shouldn’t you do it gracefully and wonderfully? But most people are doing it horribly.

When we say a spiritual possibility, when we say a spiritual space, there is also room to die. It is a means to live, but it is also a means to die because living and dying are not different. Right now I can say you are living, or I can say you are dying. The process of dying is actually on—one day it will be complete. It is just that there is so much negativity attached to the word “death.” But death is very much a part of life. One who does not know how to die, one who is not willing to die, cannot live.

If you are afraid of death, you will only avoid life, you cannot avoid death. And it is not that you should look at death only beyond a certain age. Every day of your life you need to be aware that you are mortal. When we initiate people into Shoonya meditation, this is one aspect of it: during the meditation, everything that you consider as “myself” will become nothing; it is as if you die. When you open your eyes again, it is all there. If you practice this consciously every day, twice a day, when the time to actually die comes, it will no more be a big issue.

The process that you refer to as life is something that can be constantly improved upon. It is a project that will never be over; that is the beauty of it. Not everybody is living with the same quality. Even if you live here for a thousand years and do everything that you wish to do, still something more, something better could be done. This is the way of life.

But death is perfect and absolute when it happens; death does not need anybody’s assistance. You don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to reflect upon it. But mortality, the limited nature of life is something that needs to be reflected upon. So always the first training for a spiritual aspirant is to go and sit in the cremation grounds. You are just like a miracle happening; you drop from somewhere, and one day you are gone. Busy in between, but you are like a bubble: when the bubble is on, it is so real; one prick—gone.

If you look at this life right now: inhalation, exhalation—if the next inhalation does not happen, that’s it.... That is how fragile this life is. People always think death is something that happens to somebody else; it’s not so, it will happen to you and me.

If you remind yourself every day that you will also die, naturally you will move towards knowing higher dimensions of perception. If you are aware of the mortal nature of your life, is there time to get angry with somebody, is there time to quarrel with somebody, is there time to do anything stupid in life? Once you come to terms with death and you are conscious that you will die, you will want to make every moment of your life as beautiful as possible. Only people who believe they are immortal can fight, and fight to death. Those who are constantly aware of the mortal and fragile nature of existence, they don’t want to miss a single moment; they will naturally be aware. They can’t take anything for granted; they will live very purposefully. This is a simple way of becoming aware.

[Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, Sadhguru speaks before millions annually around the globe, including to prominent leadership forums such as the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, TED, and the World Peace Congress. From ground-breaking yoga programs to projects for rural communities and the environment, Sadhguru’s Isha Foundation (www.IshaFoundation.org), serves as a thriving model for human empowerment, which is reflected in the Foundation’s special consultative status with the UN.]

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