Death is considered a great mystery. Quacks, philosophers, doctors and poets have taken a “stab” at explaining it, but death has remained unknown and unknowable – a seemingly compulsory destination for everyone. Only a mystic, who consciously straddles the line between life and death, can explain what it takes to transcend both, and give us a process as a first step towards this.
Sadhguru: You need to understand this: everything that you can experience is life. What you call as death also is life. So, are there choices about death? There are definitely. What you are referring to as death is just the last moment of life. That final moment when you transcend the limitations of your physical body happens only once in your lifetime. Almost everything in your life may happen many times over. But this one thing happens only once in your lifetime and it’s the last thing that you do. I want you to understand death as life, not something else. This is the last act of your life. Is it not very important that you choose to make it happen gracefully and wonderfully? If you are fearful of it, if you are ignorant of the ways of life and you create resistance towards it, naturally you will miss that possibility.
People on the spiritual path choose the time, date and place of their death. The yogi always wants to know the time and date of death ahead of time. He fixes it. Many years ahead he says, “On this date, at this time I will leave,” and he leaves, because he has created the necessary awareness within himself to leave consciously. Leaving this body consciously without damaging this body, like you take off your clothes and walk away, you take off your body and walk away, if you can do that, that is the ultimate possibility in your life. If your awareness has grown to such a point that you know where you as a being and this physical body which you gathered are connected, then you can disentangle yourself whenever the moment is right for you.
Is this suicide? Definitely not. Suicide happens out of frustration, out of anger, out of fear, out of inability to bear with suffering. This is neither suicide nor euthanasia. This is about being so aware that you know when life has completed its cycle, and you walk out of it. And this is not death either. This is known as samadhi, where a human being has developed sufficient awareness within himself to separate himself from the physicality that he has gathered. In that level of awareness, one can leave. If you do not attain such a level of awareness, at least you can make that last moment very graceful, pleasant, joyful and blissful for yourself if you manage certain things.
If you want to exercise this choice, a certain amount of preparation is needed. You cannot waste life and try to make use of death. If you maintain a certain level of awareness right through your life, the moment of passing also can happen in awareness. You live a life of unawareness and you expect that moment to be aware, such things don’t happen to people.
Just practice this tonight, the last moment of passing – I call it passing because you are passing off from wakefulness to sleep that last moment – maintain your awareness and see. It will change your life phenomenally. Just use this as a method every day. Go at it with total perseverance. You will see in a few days, you will get there where the final moment, you are aware. Suddenly, everything about your life, the fundamental quality of your life will change just by doing this one simple thing. If you manage to move from wakefulness to sleep in awareness, this last moment of passing from life to death will happen absolutely gracefully for you. There are other methods also.
In India, traditionally people choose not to die with their loved ones, because if you die among your family, so many emotions will come. Naturally you will try to cling to life. You will not allow it to happen gracefully. So people travel to faraway places which are considered spiritually vibrant and they want to shed their body in that space. Even today, people still do this. This may be completely unthinkable in the West because people there want to die in the comfort of their family. That is not a wise thing. It is truly wise for a person to choose a space which is spiritually conducive, which is vibrant in a certain way and to leave with as much grace as possible. If you have lived your life with grace, it becomes extremely important that you die with grace.
Editor’s Note: This article is based on an excerpt from Isha’s monthly English magazine, Forest Flower. Twenty-three issues of Forest Flower from the years 2011 and 2012 are available for download. Pay what you want and download. (set ‘0’ for free). Print subscriptions are also available.