“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. One who lives never asks, ‘What is living?’ and 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?”
Excerpt from As One Is