Death and the After Life
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Everyday in your sleep, nature provides you a tiny glimpse of death. Death is akin to sleep. Sleep provides you deep rest. Sleep heals you, comforts you, and makes you fresh for the next day. Similarly, death provides rest to your soul. What is death? It means dropping the past. You drop one body and get into another body. Everything in this universe is changing; everything is dying.
Death creates a void. When someone dies a vacuum is created suddenly, and being totally with that vacuum you know that you also are that vacuum. What are you? What is your life? It’s a total void. Not only is death a void, but life too is a void. This realisation is Nirvana.
Buddha said that life is a void and void is truth and that forms are illusive and they have no existence. The formless is the only existence and it governs the form. The mind is formless, and is it not the mind that is ruling your body? For example, is the body or the mind moving a car? It is the mind. If the mind is not in the body, the body alone cannot do anything… There is a greater formlessness overseeing entire Creation. You are the centre of that greater formlessness; whatever you call it.
In ancient days people were asked to meditate in burial grounds. This gave a sense of dispassion, a feeling of void so your mind did not wander. In meditation you realise that you are not just the body, but you are more than the body. This realisation annihilates the fear of death.
Some are afraid to go to bed. They fear they may not wake up. Knowledge of death will improve the quality of your life. It makes you stable and strong and roots out fear. The Self is beyond death; the knowledge makes you immortal rather, you become aware that you are immortal and that there is something in you which never dies. The first law of thermodynamics says that ‘energy can neither be created nor destroyed’. Our mind is energy and thus it cannot be destroyed…
Why are some people born in violent environments and others in comfortable environments? These come from previous impressions. It doesn’t matter how your life has been, but the last thought is very important. You might have noticed the last thought in your mind before falling asleep will be the first thought when you wake up. Similarly, your last impression will be the first impression in your next life.
At the last moment, all we did in life will come to us in a flash. If you always do things that are life-supporting, the same impressions will carry on. That is why all human values, like friendliness and compassion are given great importance; they are investments for the future. The human body is precious because in this body you can carry as well as erase all negative impressions.
No one knows when their last moment is. When it comes, you cannot have a new impression; the last or strongest impression is what will pop up. In the Gita, Krishna says: “Look Arjuna, you don’t know, you never know when the last moment comes, so don’t wait for the last moment. All the time, keep me in your mind, and meditate to make that as the strongest impression.” So don’t wait for the last moment to have a good impression.
Source: Times of India
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