Die before Death
This talk was published in the May 1971 issue of Sat Sandesh
This world is blind – how can I explain?
The colour of the world, seen through the eyes of an ordinary being, is different from that seen by a Personality Who has become free from the dominance of mind and senses, Who has realised Himself and realised God. His angle of vision is different and He sees the world in a different light. He sees the true condition of the souls who, through influence from the mind and senses, have identified themselves with the physical covering. This false identity is so embedded that the soul cannot differentiate: am I this body or am I its controller? Am I the house or the indweller of the house?
The eye that views the world, views it through gross senses, for so far the Spiritual or Inner Eye has not been opened to see the true nature of things. All outer knowledge is gained through these gross senses; man does not know how to rise above them, for although the outer doors are all open, yet the Inner Door remains closed and he cannot be released from the coarse matter of the physical form. The subtle form and the subtle senses lie within him, yet he cannot shake off his grosser covering and experience this higher self. Can anything be done about this predicament?
Maulana Rumi says that we should learn how to close the outer shop and open the Inner Shop. Those who have done so have developed a subtle eye, and therefore regard everything with infinite accuracy of vision.
Kabir Sahib tells us that wherever He looks, the world is filled with blind people. Those who have outer eyes and those who have no sight are, in fact, all blind alike, for their Inner or Subtle Eye has not been opened.
We may not be able to see anything in the atmosphere with our normal vision, but does that mean that it contains nothing? Our atmosphere is filled with microscopic beings, invisible to the normal physical sight. These beings can be seen if the eye becomes as subtle as they, or if they are made coarse to come within the range of ordinary sight.
Guru Nanak has mentioned this blind man and says,
Do not call him blind, on whose face there are no eyes; blind is he, oh Nanak, whose Inner Eye is not open to see the Lord.
The Vedas, Shastras, and many other Holy Scriptures tell us that God is all permanence and He resides in each living form. In every atom He is vibrating; but He is very, very subtle – Agam – incomprehensible, inconceivable through mind or senses.
Our eye is gross and we cannot see Him, but Guru Nanak says,
Become as high as He is – then only can you know Him.
If we desire to see Him, we must become as subtle and inconceivable as He.
So, Kabir Sahib looks at the condition of the world and declares that all are blind. If there were but a few who could not see, He would be able to make them understand; but all are in the same condition, literate or illiterate, rich and poor alike, the master and the servant. How can a blind man lead a blind man? Both will surely fall in the ditch!
There was once a certain fakir who went to a certain village. He had an abundance of compassion in his heart, and he warned the villagers, Tomorrow a breeze is coming, and whoever the breeze touches will go mad. A few of the villagers who had faith in the fakir took notice of his words and when the time came they hid themselves in their houses, shuttering the windows and doors fast. All those who ignored the warning were touched by the breeze and went mad. When the lucky ones came out of hiding, they saw that everyone was mad, except themselves. But the mad people, being in the majority, and seeing that the few were different, insisted, They are mad!
The world’s condition is something like this. Realised People, Whose soul is free from mind and senses, Who have risen above the gross environments, Whose Inner Vision is pure and uncluttered, and Who see God in the tiniest particle, are exceedingly rare; so who is there to understand the Truth?
If there were one or two, I would explain; all have forgotten, in their selfish work for the stomach.
All actions of this entangled mankind are for the stomach. Everyone considers that the physical form and its connections comprise the be-all and end-all of life. Whether a man is a labourer or a businessman, his aim is the same – to make money. Even most of those who profess spiritual work, who take on the responsibility of making perfect human beings and reaching the souls to God, have the same aim. They were supposed to teach the Word, but became themselves lost in the world.
Kabir says that man awakens when the Lord of Death is on his head.
If the awareness comes only at this final stage, what is the use of that? It is no use regretting when the birds have eaten all the planted seeds. It is a tragic fact that when God-realised People come to the world to help and guide the souls, the learned and the rich call Them atheists and accuse Them of misleading the people. Guru Nanak was barred from entering the city of Kasur. Even the large organisations in the name of religion are in no better category. Corruption is rife, and those who profess to be spiritual are more worldly than the worldly man.
Everyone’s motto is:
Eat, drink, and be merry,
recognising no life save that of the body and its connections, which has become their god and their principle. How will they begin to understand the true facts of life?
The air is the horse and the soul is the rider.
Just as air is in a bubble of dew with a thin veil of water outside, how long can that stay? A little breeze will blow it away – such is the state of the life of man. It is like a horse on which the soul is riding. With a little breeze or warmth, a bubble of dew will vanish leaving no trace, and similarly man lives only as long as breath and the soul remain in the body. When the companion of the body separates itself, the body falls over lifeless. Then they quickly take it off to the cremation ground. This is happening daily before our very eyes, but the world is lost in illusion refusing to believe that all must leave one day. So like the bubble of dew, we are here for just a short time, and the last change which is called death will come to each of us in turn.
The king and the subject will not remain – the impious and the renunciate; each will go in turn – nothing is permanent.
Many Great Personalities have come to the world, but even They have had to leave Their body eventually. So the only solution to this inevitable event is to learn how to leave the body at will and transcend into the upper regions. If so, we will benefit in two ways. First, we will know how to leave the body, as we have learned to do so daily; and when death comes there will be no pain and no fear. Secondly, by travelling frequently in the higher regions and returning to the earth at will, the fear of our unknown destination will vanish and we will develop an unwavering conviction about the True Life; its mystery will be revealed. It is no use waiting for death to discover the facts of life.
Christ told us,
Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
He also said,
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.
What is the value of the physical form?
Life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
The day our allotted number of breaths expire, this body will fade away like a bubble of dew. And that time might arrive any minute; so what should we do? We should immediately learn this science of leaving the body, that the fear of death may be erased.
Our soul is adrift on a deep river; the pilot will throw a line.
The whole world is like a fast-flowing river, on which our soul is drifting about helplessly. It must get a mooring somehow; otherwise it will go under. The mind is an ocean wherein huge breakers are perpetually rising. In perpetual motion the waves of the mind are undulating with lust, anger, greed, attachment, and ego. Man is tossed about amid them, and what chance has he got of saving himself? None can cross the ocean of the mind without a Competent Master. In the company of One Who has controlled His mind and saved Himself from destruction, others can also be saved.
That which we seek is within us – it is the very Soul of our soul – but with a lighted lamp in our hand, we search for it without.
That which lies in the house never seems near; we search outside like a blind man – sometimes in Holy Books, sometimes along the banks of rivers, sometimes on the mountain peaks, and sometimes in outer practices. And all the while we remain ignorant of the Truth. The mind is dragged by the horses of the senses into the fields of enjoyments – man has no time to invert and see that which lies hidden within his very being, closer to him than life itself.
I once met a man in Kanpur who told me that in his search for Truth he had taken the holy water from Gangotri on foot to Kanyakumari, and on return by foot had taken the water of Kanyakumari back to Gangotri – a total distance of many hundreds of miles – and yet had not realised that for which he was searching. How can the Truth be realised like this?
The thing lies in one place, you are searching elsewhere; Kabir says you will find It when you take the One Who knows.
We are always searching in the wrong place.
We cannot believe It lies in this body – cursed be such a life; oh Tulsi, this world is suffering from cataract.
Our Inner Sight is there, but it is covered and needs a qualified doctor or Master to perform the operation and remove the covering.
God resides in each form – all Saints proclaim this.
When Swami Ram Tirath was residing in Lahore, He came out of His house one evening and saw in the street an old woman with a lamp, searching the ground for something.
He asked, Mother, what are you seeking? She replied, I have lost my needle, son, and am trying to find it. He at once began to help her, but after some time of fruitless search, He said, Mother, where exactly did you drop the needle? She said, Oh, I dropped it in my room. Naturally He pointed out, But how can you hope to find it here, when it has been lost in the house? You may smile at this story, but truly speaking, what are we doing?
While the Lord sustains the soul, it remains in the body. That Divine Link is in each, and each is sustained by It, yet we seek in the expanding scope of the senses, among outer things.
The fire will consume the whole forest; without the Guru’s knowledge, man will go astray.
The fire of desire is consuming the world – each home is being sacrificed, each community, each town, and each country. Like an infection it spreads from person to person, for whatever company a man keeps, he becomes like that. If you keep the company of a worldly man, as each word of his is charged with a worldly colour, the influence will affect you, and you will soon be wholeheartedly following his way of life. So Kabir Sahib says that this fire is burning up the whole world, and only those whose Inner Eye is open can see it; the physical eyes cannot see these things. If only man would sit quietly and see within himself, he would begin to have the awareness of something burning him up. The hidden fire of desire eats into the very depths of one’s being, and only by the Guru’s knowledge can one be saved.
In the Gurbani it is written,
The fire consumed every blade of grass; but an isolated plant remained green.
That plant must be in the company of a self-realised Soul – must be connected to the evergreen Source.
Maulana Rumi says that the heart should keep the company of One Who knows the heart’s condition. He also tells us to sit under the tree that is laden with fragrant blossoms – which issues forth a sweet coolness.
He then asks,
What is that?
The company of a Realised Soul Whose Inner Eye is open.
A man who has been in the burning sun for many hours will sit under a shady tree and recover himself in its coolness. In the Guru’s presence, the mind becomes still and serene. If you want to save yourself, this is the only way.
The Satguru not only radiates coolness but is able to give the knowledge. That knowledge is not the worldly kind –
Know gyan and dhyan as the ineffable Sound, the Music of the Spheres.
True Knowledge and Attention is that Sound – the Song of Life – which permeates every pore and sustains the whole of creation. To realise it is True Knowledge, gained through the Grace of the Satguru. It is already there, but we are not conscious of it.
She gets lost in illusion, looking through the nine doors, and does not get the priceless treasure.
Those who do not turn inwardly through the Guru’s connection will be consumed in the fire.
Outer practices cannot save you. One may escape for a few minutes, but it is not lasting, and again one falls into danger. The fire of illusion attacks through the senses, and once one has learned how to rise above them and absorb the cool peace within – the Nectar of Truth – then the outer heat will lose its effect, something like sitting in an air-conditioned room. No matter where you go, if your attention is centred the heat will not have any effect. The misery of worldly life plagues us because we have no knowledge of this natural science – knowledge of the beyond.
When Guru Nanak was thinking of renouncing the worldly life, His mother-in-law, Moolo Ji, brought His two sons before Him and said,
If this was your intention, then why did You bring these two into the world?
Mother, I have come to free the world from that very imprisonment in which you are endeavouring to bind me. I have come to put out the fire that is consuming the world.
He then prayed,
Oh God, with Thine own Mercy, save this world from incineration; it can only be quenched from the source.
All Masters have tried to make mankind understand that experiences of the senses can only bring unhappiness.
I have not seen a happy person in the physical form; each one I see is unhappy.
By rising above the senses and the physical, one can experience a better life. In the astral and causal regions, there is greater happiness than in the world; however, they are not free from unhappiness – for complete happiness one must go beyond the physical, astral, and causal planes.
To awaken the souls, the Masters take the burdens upon Themselves. They may hate the sins committed, but for the sinners They have a True Love from the heart. They tell us that there is hope for improvement in everyone – sinner or pious person – but only by obedience to the Master’s commands. We should give our obedience and devotion and leave the rest of the work to Him. Those who do not know how to love will never realise the Lord:
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is Love.
Our soul being of the same essence is also Love. If the outer coverings are removed, the Love which lies under the weight of them will awaken and blossom forth. One will then become worthy of loving and of knowing that higher self which is God – or God in that Pole where He has manifested.
Listen oh brothers; the day will come when man will discard even his loincloth.
We should realise that in the end we must leave everything – even the most necessary coverings of our body. There is no exception to the rule; each and every one will have to leave the world eventually. If only the True Realisation of this would take hold of us, our whole angle of vision would change, and life would be seen in its right perspective with True Values revealed. If this opportunity is lost, it will never return again; we have wasted this invaluable life. If we lose the chance of this lifetime, where is the guarantee of getting another? We can only learn to rise above the physical form and be free from the mind and senses in the human life. Having wasted our life in enjoying worldly things, what will be the result? Wherever your attention is, there will you go; and so again and again you will have to come to the world in some form or other. To leave the body is no bugbear, if we use our intelligence to help this life’s condition, and the life hereafter also.
There is a story of a kingdom wherein they chose a new king every five years. During the five years, the king was the supreme ruler and his every word obeyed; but at the end of this period, the people would take the king to a dense forest full of wild animals and reptiles and leave him there. On the day the king was chosen he would rejoice at his good fortune, but on the expiration of five years, he would be led off to the jungle sadly lamenting his lot in life.
Many kings came and went in their turn, until one day a man was chosen who had the serious thought, What will happen to me after five years? He was a man of considerable intelligence and was duly concerned for his future life. So after some careful thought, he secretly started to send workers into the forest to cut some of the trees and make a huge clearing. They then made orchards, gardens, beautiful buildings, and appropriate surroundings, until the whole place became a luxurious kingdom. A man can do wonders in five years, and when the time was up and he was told that he must leave the throne, he smiled happily and said, Yes, let’s go. The people were naturally amazed and asked why he was rejoicing. He told them, I have already prepared my destination and have taken possession there; so I have no fear of going. What is more, I will actually enjoy more comfort there, for here I had many responsibilities, yet there I will have none.
All souls have this golden opportunity while in the human form and so we should make use of it and prepare while we can, for the day will come when we have to leave. No one has ever lived here permanently and no one ever will. If we learn to leave the body and traverse in the beyond, which is also called life after death, then that experience will make us familiar with our future home where there is happiness and peace, and then where will be the fear of death?
The whole world is afraid of death and wants to remain in the earthly life – only few seek True Life; he who dies while living with the Guru’s blessing will unravel the mystery of His will.
By meeting an Enlightened Person, through His Mercy we can learn to die while living and in due course become the Conscious Co-Worker of the Divine Plan. One will then see that He is the Doer, and not I; and the mystery of the Master’s orders will be unravelled.
Oh Nanak, whoever dies while living gets Everlasting Life.
In this context, Swami Ji Maharaj says,
You have got a golden opportunity.
Our work is not merely eating, drinking, and looking after the body, or doing things connected with the body and the worldly life; there is another task to which we give not a single thought.
Actually we are like the pigeon who closes his eyes to shut out the sight of the cat when the cat comes to eat him. Of course, the cat remains, and the poor pigeon realises it only when the cat takes hold of him. We are not the body; we are the body’s operator, and although at present we view the world from the physical level, this can change if we rise above to see and know what is true. The world is changing and our bodies are changing at the same rate. Scientists have proved that even our bones change so much that every seven years a renewal is necessary which takes place in accordance with nature. If two things are changing at the same rate, then the motion of change is not noticeable. A drifting boat moves at the same speed as the river’s flow. The people in the boat may not notice its movement, but someone on the shore will see it clearly and will warn them,
Brothers, you are drifting along fast;
but due to the illusion they will not believe him.
By rising above the illusion we see from the level of the soul and it becomes clearly apparent that the body is changing and so is the world. Up to this point of pure perception, the world, the body, and the things connected with them are everything to us; but with True Experience in the beyond, the pinching effects of the ups and downs of life are rendered impotent. Not only this, but the fear of death will vanish and the outer tastes will fade away, just by tasting the Nectar of the higher contact. Everything will be seen in its True Light, and all we do will result in success, for our attention will be in control to be directed in any field we so desire.
All Masters have told us,
Oh brothers, you are human beings, not animals.
In particular, Maulana Rumi said that we should not behave like animals, for nature made them to face the earth; and if they spend their lives eating and drinking, it is not so strange. He says that the Lord made the heads of human beings erect; so we should look towards higher things – we are the highest of all the species. Man should safeguard his heritage; he has the form to which the gods and goddesses bow, and in this form only can God be realised. Accomplish this work in this life and you will have made a success of it. Once the pearl has formed in the oyster what difference does it make when the shell is broken? If even a single drop of water seeps into the shell before the pearl is formed, there will be no pearl. Only in this condition is death a bugbear.
Kabir Sahib says,
That death of which the world is fearful gives me intense pleasure; only by this death is complete bliss gained.
When the veil of the body is removed, we are with the Lord.
When Maulana Rumi was lying very sick, many people came to His bedside and prayed that He might live.
He opened His eyes and said,
Brothers, you may benefit from this prayer – but do you not want this drape which separates me from the Lord to be removed, that I may be forever One with Him?
Such are the words of those Souls Whose Inner Eye is open and Who have realised the Lord in this life. No doubt, God is with us and we are not separate from Him, but do we realise it? We have forgotten our True Self by working only at the level of the senses. We must withdraw our attention from outside and invert within.
It is a path of reversing the senses. It is not necessary to kill the senses; in fact, we should extract double work from them – inside and outside.
We can see out, but our Inner Vision is closed; what are we, if not blind? The outer ears are open and they hear, but we are deaf to the Inner Music the Music of the Spheres. The Nectar of Naam is flowing within us, but man is drunk with the taste of the world.
I have blessed thousands blind from the birth with the sight to see God everywhere.
Many blind persons have been initiated, and with such joy they tell how they have seen the rising of the Sun inside. If you can see within, it matters little if the outer eyes function or not.
It is unfortunate that very few people are acquainted with this science. It is the oldest of all ancient knowledge, but man has forgotten. Whenever the Masters come, They renew the old, old Truth; but when They go, again man forgets until another Master comes to renew the teaching. The world has never been without a Perfect Master. The law of demand and supply is always at work, and there is food for the hungry and water for the thirsty. The Guru appears when the disciple is ready.