Once, in USA, a young lady asked the great Indian monk Swami Vivekananda, ‘What is life?’ Swami Vivekananda said, ‘Come with me to India. I will teach you.’ She asked, ‘What will you teach me?’ He said, ‘I will teach you how to die.’
The question is about life but the answer is about death! It seems strange! What Swami Vivekananda is saying is that if you know the secret of death, the quality of your life will be different. Your very understanding and attitude towards everything will change.
We can actually use our lives to prepare for death. We do not have to wait for the pain of seeing someone’s death or the shock of being faced with a critical illness to force us to look into the meaning of life.
If you know how to die, you know how to live. Living and leaving are two sides of the same thing.
Death is not a mere incident at the end of your life. It is a profound knowing. If you know how to die, you know how to live. Living and leaving are two sides of the same thing. Your life will be totally different once you understand death.
Almost all the traditions have tried to conquer death, to outlive death. But one group of really intelligent, intuitive people understood after much struggle that we were approaching death in a completely wrong direction. They decided to take a 180-degree turn. They started working with death in a different way. They used meditation as a technique to take them where others had not dared to go before. Those few intelligent ones were the rishis of the Upanishad* age. The report they submitted on their research into the phenomenon of death is called the Kathopanishad. These rishis researched deeply on death and finally came to the conclusion that death cannot be understood or overcome by resistance. By resisting death you cannot go beyond death.
The only way to break free from the vicious cycle of birth and death is by becoming enlightened, by entering into death, dropping the fear.
As long as you are afraid, you will never look death in the eye. Unless and until you do that, you will never know how much you are blessed with abundance. Only when you know that you will lose something will you realize the value of that thing.
Just meditate: suppose you are going to die in two days, what all would you want to do? How much is there to finish? It is only when you take stock of your life that you understand how much of goodness is showered on you. You have taken everything for granted because you believe that you are going to live forever. Only when you understand death you will understand the preciousness of life.
Once when you face death without fear, you will understand that death is not the end of life but it is the climax. When this understanding dawns on you then you will stop praying for everlasting life.
Please understand that death has power over you because of your belief, your faith in it, that’s all. It is just a matter of belief. When you believe that death is terrifying, it becomes terrifying. It is like a mirror that faithfully reflects whatever you project on it.
When a donkey sees itself in the mirror what will it see? It will see a donkey only, nothing else. In the same way if you are totally afraid of death then you will see only the fear reflected back to you. Then death will be truly death for you. If you take a little time and look into your fear of death you will see that it has the power to transform your life in the most positive way. You will realize that it is not contradictory to life but complementary to life.
“We are not able to face death because we are not able to face the ever-changing nature of life”. We try to hold onto things, to people, to feelings, to situations and that is where the problem starts. We are terrified of letting go, we are wary of life.
The irony of the situation is this. Not only is holding on to life impossible, but the very source of the pain we seek to avoid is holding on to life!
Look at everything happening in life with the understanding that change is the nature of life, the very reason why life is so colorful and interesting. Then you can see the mysteries of life unfold beautifully, including the ultimate mystery of death.
source: Living Enlightenment