What happens at the Time of Death and after?

To solve this riddle, people have spared no efforts. The intellect fails. The learned and the illiterate are equally helpless in resolving this mystery. The reason is that no one has returned after death to relate to us his knowledge. Again and again the thought crosses our mind, how satisfying it would be if someone had gone to the regions beyond death and had returned to narrate his actual experiences! We merely make guesses, but with no success. No telescope is able to see the regions beyond death, nor are they accessible to the airplane. These instruments and machines can merely tell us a little about the material regions. They are of no value where the higher regions are concerned.

This subject has been dealt with at length by the Saints. They have described the method of passing through the Gate of Death and of conquering death. By following this method, a devotee can also pass through the Gate of Death and travel through the regions beyond it. He leaves and returns to his physical body at will. While doing this he is completely conscious, and whatever scenes he witnesses he vividly remembers.

Plutarch described the state at the time of death as follows:

At the moment of death, the soul experiences the same impressions and passes through the same processes as are experienced by those who are initiated into the Great Mysteries.

Those who follow the instructions of a True Master die daily – while living. They go into the regions above, and they come back into the same physical body at will.

By Simran all the active energy in the body is concentrated at the eye centre, by Contemplation it is fixed there; and by means of the Sound Current it ascends to higher regions. When consciousness separates from the body, it is known as dying while living. The practitioner leaves his body in the same way that the soul leaves it at the time of death. The difference is only this – that his connection with the physical body is not completely broken. There is a silver cord, referred to in the Bible (Ecc. 12:6), by means of which one can leave the body and return to it at will and be at all times connected with the body.

In this manner he gets an insight into death while living. He travels in the Astral, the Causal and the higher regions, and becomes fully familiar with them. He is able to meet and talk with the inhabitants of these regions.

One of the benefits of the teachings of the Saints is that a disciple crosses the Gate of Death in a state of happiness and thus conquers it. This is the experience of all disciples who have been blessed with the Grace of the Master. It is not merely talk or a fable taken from some book of holy Scriptures.

People in general, whether literate or illiterate, believe that no one knows what lies beyond death and that no one has ever returned. They are afraid of the very name of death, for they know nothing about it nor as to how it comes about.

But the Saints teach us how to go beyond death while living. Whoever desires to learn this from them can easily do so and thus be free of ignorance. Death has no fear for a follower of the Path of the Saints.

If one learns the art of dying while living, he can forever end the cycle of birth and rebirth. He loses all fear of death, for every day he crosses its gate. Therefore, Saints eulogize the state of dying while living and teach the manner of doing it. Death is sweet if a person can die while living.

Dadu says:

Oh Dadu learn to die first, for everyone has to die soon or late.

The Koran also enjoins that one should die before his death. This does not mean that one should commit suicide. After death every soul has to go helplessly to the Astral and higher regions.

But the Scriptures enjoin:

Where you have to go after death, go there by dying while living.

Practice such a yoga as will take you to the regions above during your sojourn in this world.

Saints die while living, many times a day at will, and traverse the upper realms. They sever their connections with the physical world during their spiritual practice, and then return to the world. They have no difficulty in doing this.

Dying while living is not accomplished easily. The method can be gained only through the Grace of a Master. Only that person can die while living who has subdued his mind and curbed his desires and cravings, and has annihilated his ego. This is not as simple as it may seem. It is not as easy to do as it is to talk about. One achieves it by renouncing all desires for the world. So long as desires assail the body, the soul cannot succeed in leaving it.

It is only by detaching oneself from the body and mind that one can die while living. When for the first time the soul leaves the pot of clay – body – during practice, it has to pass through the Gate of Death. Giving up the world and its desires and surrendering completely to the ever-helpful Master, let your soul rise to higher regions. You will experience no trouble.

The body is an ocean of Spirituality which none can fathom. Only one who dies while living can obtain pearls of super-consciousness from it. Otherwise, the treasure remains completely hidden. One who dives deep in the ocean and rises up into the sky will make the higher regions his abode and will realize the jewel of the Lord – Hari. So long as we yearn for life (in this world) we can never obtain this precious Jewel.

It is through the Grace of the Lord that a rare devotee who dies while living can find this Jewel.

If you wish to realize God, you must die while living, for it is impossible to attain Him so long as you do not die. So long as you cherish worldly desires, God-Realization will not come to you.

A person who dies while living lives forever. One who looks upon life in this world and death with the same attitude, is also free from death. This dying while living has nothing to do with being cremated or buried. It is a state or condition in which the Master bestows eternal life on his disciples.

Maulana Rumi says:

It is not death that will take you. It is a tomb. Death is a change that will usher you into light from darkness, and bestow eternal bliss upon you. You need have no fear of death, for apart from the physical body you have other bodies. Therefore, do not be afraid to come out of this body.

We can never realize true life so long as we do not go beyond the domain of death or, in other words, so long as we are not born into the subtle higher regions.

Christ says:

Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.

St. John 3:3

Maulana Rumi says:

Oh friend! If you wish to attain life eternal, then die before death overtakes you. Oh good-natured friend! Die before death overtakes you, surrender your life to the Lord, and thus walk away from this life. So long as you do not die while living, how can you ever get the fruit of Life? Therefore, die while living and avail yourself of the value of this human life.

Maulana Rumi further says:

The whole world keeps dying after death, for no one dies the real death. I have died a death that will make me never die again. So long as you do not know how to die while living, you will not gain freedom from the cycle of birth and death.

You cannot reach the top of a house unless you ascend all the steps of a ladder. If there were a hundred steps and a person should climb only ninety-eight, he would still remain ignorant about the housetop. If a well were a hundred feet deep and a person had ninety-nine feet of rope, he would fail to fill his vessel with water. In the same way, so long as the soul does not go completely beyond the domain of the body and the senses, it can never know the scenes of the upper realms.

Hafiz also says:

Oh man! So long as you do not go out of the body, how can you ever tread the path of Spirituality?

Kabir expresses the same thought very aptly:

Spirituality is a tall tree. Its fruits hang in the sky and only a rare bird can partake of them.

Only those persons who die while living can taste the fruits. Therefore, so long as the soul does not leave the body completely during one’s lifetime, births and deaths will continue.

When the soul ascends within, it comes across the galaxy of stars. So long as the soul does not cross this region, it is not able to behold the sun and the moon nor the Radiant Form of the Master.

Oh wise man! So long as the veil of the body does not vanish, the Radiant Form of the Master does not manifest. Therefore, make a real death your own and remove this veil of the body. Oh man living in the Will of God! (Gurmukh) The Master confers this death upon you to enable you to live eternally. So long as you remain alive on this earth, you should be able to leave your body at will and traverse the higher regions.

The spiritual regions are the abode of your soul. If a person dies such a death, his soul need not return to this world any more.

Maulana Rumi says:

Oh soul! Your abode is in heaven. You are an inhabitant of that place. Unfortunately, you have become prisoner in this pot of clay.

Soami Ji also affirms:

Your abode is there, where the physical body does not exist. Why are you then tied down to this physical body?

A person whose soul has traversed the upper realms, before death has overtaken him, can alone understand what it is to die while living. Intellect is helpless to comprehend this phenomenon.

The chief essential in Spirituality is to die while living, because it is after such a death that the soul becomes really alive. Most people in the world are ignorant of this true path, for they are afraid to die while living.

Where can we find this true spiritual knowledge?

We can do so by transcending our intellectual knowledge. The Real Being can be found only by going above the physical being. Self-realization can come only by transcending the physical self. So long as you do not die a real death, how can you gain these benefits?


Oh man! Go and die this true death so you will fulfil the real purpose of human life. Oh ignorant man! So long as you do not die this true death, never will you be able to stand in God’s presence.

This is the real secret of dying before death. Only by dying such a death does one become eligible for the Grace of God. There is no other method by which one can be accepted in the Court of the Lord.

Remember that the gracious look of the Master is better than a thousand efforts. It is highly rewarding, for it pulls the soul out of the nine portals and collects it at the Tenth Gate.

Our own sharpness, cleverness and effort are not fully beneficial, for thereby one may be led astray and have to face numerous privations. The Grace of the Master, one can gain by dying while living. In other words, it is obtained by making the soul currents leave the body and concentrate at the Third Eye. It is only the dauntless disciple, who has full faith in the Master, who realizes this Grace.

It is the Grace that brings about devotion; and it is devotion that entitles one to His Grace. Both go hand in hand.

But such a death, namely, dying while living, can be had only through the Grace of the Master. There is no other way. The lovers of the Lord, by dying while living, ever drink the wine of happiness and bliss. This is the privilege of those to whom the Master Himself offers the ‘Wine’.

Shamas-i-Tabriz says:

How wonderful it would be if you should take your soul out of the body some night, and rise above to higher realms after leaving the ‘tomb’ of your body. If your soul should do this, you would forever escape death’s sword. You would enter a garden that knows no autumn.

The natural death can relieve us from the worries of the world; but if we die while living we are rid of the sufferings of all the regions and end the cycle of birth and death.

It is for this reason that Maulana Rumi boldly asserts:

Oh Soul! Wake up, rise above before death overtakes you; and behold the kingdom of everlasting peace and bliss.

What really is this dying while living?

The headquarters of the soul in the body is at the eye centre, and from here the entire body receives its energy currents. In the practice of dying while living, there is no need to stop breathing. Simply collect your full attention at the eye centre by doing Simran, thus depriving the senses of their motive energy.

The body will then appear as a corpse. In other words, the gross senses should cease to function and the fine ones get awakened, so that the soul can rise to subtle regions and behold their glory.

The soul cannot behold the spiritual regions with the physical eyes nor can it hear the Divine Music with the physical ears. There the feet do not carry one. Nor are the hands of any help. Even the tongue can give no aid.

Guru Angad gives an description of the condition of dying while living.

He says:

You have to see without eyes. You have to hear without ears. You have to walk without feet. You have to work and speak, using neither hands nor tongue. Even while living you have to die, and only then can you hear the ‘Word’ of God and meet your Beloved.

Tulsi Das also affirms this condition.

There are many methods by which the soul can be concentrated at its headquarters, that is, by which one can die while living. But the method of Simran, Dhyan and Dhun is the easiest and best means of achieving this state without difficulty.

By Simran and Dhyan the soul collects and enters the Tenth Gate. By listening to the Shabd Dhun it comes out, drawn upwards by the Shabd’s magnetic force. Without these practices it is impossible to leave this “pot of clay." No other method exists.

Guru Arjan says:

Dying while living can be accomplished only through Guru’s ‘Shabd’. Only then does one ferry cross this ocean of phenomena.

Soami Ji says:

Save Shabd, there is no other way to effect release from birth and death.

Dying with the help of Shabd, one attains everlasting life. A devotee of Shabd never dies a second time.

One who dies while living begins to tread the path that is exactly opposite to that of death. He attains the Sunn state.

He truly drinks nectar and becomes worthy of true devotion. Such a person attains God-Realization and is honoured in the Court of the Lord.

The condition of dying while living is the result of the Master’s Grace, listening to His Satsang, and devoting oneself to Naam Bhakti. It is only then that one crosses the ocean of life and is acclaimed in the Court of the Lord as having fulfilled the mission of human life.

The disciple or the devotee is the only one who works for everlasting bliss. In other words, he is the one who practises the Shabd that confers this bliss. Such a one knows both life and death, and treats them alike. Such a one is the beloved of the Lord.

The state of dying while living is the state of separating the conscious from the material. This is a highly evolved state. Such a person knows himself and his mind, and comprehends the mysteries of life. But this state can be achieved only by persons on whom descends the Grace of the Lord through an Adept.