Death: The Most Fundamental Question
Do you know you will die one day?
We don’t know if you will get married or not, if you will get a job or not, if you will be successful or not, but death is one thing that is guaranteed in your life.
One of the biggest follies is to engage with death in the third person—as though it is an abstract event that happens to other people, not us. Each second, two people die in the world—that is 160,000 each day. And one day, it is going to happen to you and me too. This knowledge is inbuilt in every human being. Yet, we think we have an unlimited lease on life. This situation is best expressed in the Mahabharata.
The five Pandava princes are lost in the forest. They spot a lake and as they try to drink from it, they are confronted by a yaksha, in the form of a white crane, who insists they answer his questions first. Refusing to be stopped by a bird, one by one they try to drink from the lake and drop dead. Only Yudhishthira, the eldest of them, is left. Always the humble and righteous one, he ignores his thirst and engages with the yaksha who fires a volley of questions about life at him. One of those questions was, “What is the biggest wonder of life?” Without hesitation, Yudhishthira answers, “Hundreds of thousands of living beings meet death at every moment, yet foolish man thinks himself deathless and does not prepare for death. This is the biggest wonder of life.” Pleased with his answer, the yaksha allows him to drink from the lake and also restores his dead brothers to life.
Death is a fundamental question. Each moment, death is happening in us at the organ and cellular levels. If you are aware, you will see that both life and death are happening every moment. If you breathe a little more consciously, you will notice that with every inhalation there is life, with every exhalation there is death. Life and death exist together, inseparably, in the same breath. Breath is only a supporting actor; the real process is of prana, the life energy that controls physical existence. With mastery over prana, one can exist beyond breath for substantial amounts of time. Breath is a bit more immediate in its requirements, but in the same category as food and water.
Death is such a fundamental aspect because if one small thing happens, you can be gone tomorrow morning . . . why tomorrow, you could even be off the next moment. How can you avoid death and live on as if you are going to be here forever?
Fundamentally, this situation has come about because you have lost perspective as to who you are in the Universe. When you have lost perspective as to who you are, how will you grasp anything about the nature of life or death?
(Abridged extract from Death: An Inside Story by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Isha Foundation.)
|Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, and visionary, and a prominent spiritual leader. An author, poet, and internationally renowned speaker, Sadhguru is the founder of Isha Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to human wellbeing. (www.isha.sadhguru.org)
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