Enter the house of death while living
- We all know that death exists, especially the older people, and also the young who observe it. The young say, “Wait until it comes, and we’ll deal with it”; and as the old are already near death, they have recourse to various forms of consolation.
Please follow and apply this to yourselves; don’t put it off on somebody else. Because you know you are going to die, you have theories about it, don’t you? You believe in God, you believe in resurrection, or in karma and reincarnation; you say that you will be reborn here, or in another world. Or you rationalize death, saying that death is inevitable, it happens to everybody; the tree withers away, nourishing the soil, and a new tree comes up. Or else you are too occupied with your daily worries, anxieties, jealousies, envies, with your competition and your wealth, to think about death at all. But it is in your mind; consciously or unconsciously, it is there.
First of all, can you be free of the beliefs, the rationalities, or the indifference that you have cultivated towards death? Can you be free of all that now? Because what is important is to enter the house of death while living, while fully conscious, active, in health, and not wait for the coming of death, which may carry you off instantaneously through an accident, or through a disease that slowly makes you unconscious. When death comes, it must be an extraordinary moment which is as vital as living.
Now, can I, can you, enter the house of death while living? That is the problem – not whether there is reincarnation, or whether there is another world where you will be reborn, which is all so immature, so infantile. A man who lives never asks, “What is living?” and he has no theories about living. It is only the half-alive who talk about the purpose of life.
So, can you and I while living, conscious, active, with all our capacities, whatever they be, know what death is? And is death then different from living? To most of us, living is a continuation of that which we think is permanent. Our name, our family, our property, the things in which we have a vested interest economically and spiritually, the virtues that we have cultivated, the things that we have acquired emotionally – all of that we want to continue. And the moment which we call death is a moment of the unknown; therefore, we are frightened, so we try to find a consolation, some kind of comfort; we want to know if there is life after death, and a dozen other things. Those are all irrelevant problems; they are problems for the lazy, for those who do not want to find out what death is while living. So, can you and I find out?
What is death? Surely, it is the complete cessation of everything that you have known. If it is not the cessation of everything you have known, it is not death. If you know death already, then you have nothing to be frightened of. But do you know death? That is, can you while living put an end to this everlasting struggle to find in the impermanent something that will continue? Can you know the unknowable, that state which we call death, while living? Can you put aside all the descriptions of what happens after death which you have read in books, or which your unconscious desire for comfort dictates, and taste or experience that state, which must be extraordinary, now? If that state can be experienced now, then living and dying are the same.
So, can I, who have vast education, knowledge, who have had innumerable experiences, struggles, loves, hates – can that ‘I’ come to an end? The ‘I’ is the recorded memory of all that, and can that ‘I’ come to an end? Without being brought to an end by an accident, by a disease, can you and I while sitting here know that end? Then you will find that you will no longer ask foolish questions about death and continuity – whether there is a world hereafter. Then you will know the answer for yourself because that which is unknowable will have come into being. Then you will put aside the whole rigmarole of reincarnation, and the many fears – the fear of living and the fear of dying, the fear of growing old and inflicting on others the trouble of looking after you, the fear of loneliness and dependency – will all have come to an end. These are not vain words. It is only when the mind ceases to think in terms of its own continuity that the unknowable comes into being.