Chapter IX

Dying while Living

Everyone has to die some day. Whether man or beast, rich or poor, healthy or diseased, nobody escapes death. All have to pass through its gate. This soul that has taken the physical form has to leave it. Everybody knows that he has to quit this world some day, but he knows not when. Death is real, but life – in this world – is unreal.

The Bible says:

Dust thou art, and to dust returns.

We have never cared to think about what kind of a journey lies beyond the gates of death. We lament the death of others. But actually, we should be concerned with our own end and should prepare ourselves for our own end and should prepare ourselves for our own life beyond death.

What is death? Do we feel any pain at the time of death? In the Bhagwad Gita there is a statement to the effect that the pain of death is so acute that it is equivalent to being stung simultaneously by a hundred thousand scorpions – the sting of one scorpion is exceedingly painful.

And the Koran says:

The pain of death may be likened to a thorny shrub passed into the body.

In the Sikh Scriptures also there are references to the pain of death.

What kind of country do we have to pass through after death? Whom are we to deal with? We must ponder over these questions. The Scriptures make occasional mention of this subject, but we pay little heed to them, for we always believe them to be either fantasies or fairy tales, or efforts to wean people away from sin, or to induce them to perform good deeds. We have to cross the gates of death. No one can be an exception to this.

Saint Paul says:

Death is the last enemy to be conquered.

We should not shut our eyes to this subject. It is our common experience that whenever we have to go to another country, we make preparations for it and carry with us the necessary funds. We make arrangements for the means of transport, be it an automobile, a horse-drawn carriage or a railway train. We write a letter to a friend in that country, and also decide about where to stay.

We are so careful in these worldly matters that we never undertake a journey without making adequate arrangements. When we have to go to a new country, we even provide for a guide to accompany us. Yet for the journey after death, which hangs over our heads like the Sword of Damocles, and which we all must undertake in due course, we care very little. Have we arranged for food, which is Naam or Shabd, for this journey? Have we decided upon a guide, or a Master – Guru – who has personal knowledge and experiences to accompany us.

Have we ever thought of the place where we are to stay? Leaving aside these matters, we are even completely ignorant of our destination and of the person who can help us to get there. Nay, we have even forgotten death.

We are very clever about our worldly affairs and always make appropriate arrangements for their successful prosecution. But with regard to death, which has no time fixed for it and may come at any time – in childhood, in youth, or in old age – we have never given a moment’s thought.

A Master alone knows everything about death. At the time of death, when family and children, our wealth, possessions and body, all leave us, it is the Perfect Master alone who accompanies the disciple. For this reason He is our only true and genuine friend.

The Perfect Master is a true guide in the Astral, Causal and the higher purely spiritual regions. That is why the Scriptures have strongly emphasized the need for us to meet such Masters and to keep constantly dwelling upon them in our mind. In this way alone can we strike at the very root of transmigration and achieve everlasting bliss.

The Saints have solved the mystery of death. They leave the human body every day and travel into the Astral and Causal regions. In their company we learn the means by which we too can triumph over death.

Death is not to be feared. It is only the name given to the phenomenon of the soul leaving the body. After discarding the physical body, the soul ascends to the Astral, Causal, and higher regions. In Persian this phenomenon is called Intakal, which means to undergo change. It is merely the withdrawal of the soul from the gross senses, and its entrance into finer regions.

It is merely giving up the present garment, namely, the body. It does not mean annihilation. There is life after death, although we may not be able to see it. All Saints accept this principle.