The mystery of death

emily-dickinson-death-stop

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

Emily Dickinson


The mystery of death holds both fear and fascination. On the one hand we fear death – death of the body and death of the ego; to some, death is the extinction of all that we hold dear in the world.

But, if we live not only for worldly possessions, we come to feel that maybe there is more to life than this physical being. The Seers and mystics proclaim that death is but a transition: a chance for renewal and rebirth. Death is an end for the body; but for the soul, death is merely the process of discarding its worn-out garment and moving to something higher.


 

Death is not the end
Death can never be the end.

Death is the road.
Life is the traveller.
The Soul is the Guide

Sri Chinmoy


“They will come back – come back again, as long as the red Earth rolls.
He never wasted a leaf or a tree. Do you think He would squander souls ?”

Rudyard Kipling


 

 Sri Aurobindo on death

“Death is a stair, a door, a stumbling stride
The soul must take to cross from birth to birth,
A grey defeat pregnant with victory”

– Sri Aurobindo, Savitri

To understand the perspective of a Seer poet on death, I recommend the Debate of love and death in Savitri by Sri Aurobindo. It is a beautiful and thought provoking dialogue between Savitri and death – between human mortality and the divine.

References

[1] Because I could not stop for death

[2] Quotes on Death

[3] The Sack of the Gods R.Kipling

Single Object of Faith – Sri Ramakrishna

snowdrops

“A man began to sink a well, but having dug down to the depth of twenty cubits he could not find the least trace of the water-spring which was to feed his well. So he desisted from the work and selected another place for the purpose. There he dug deeper than before, but even then he could not find any water. So again he selected another spot and dug still deeper than before, but it was also of no avail. At last in utter disgust he gave up the task altogether. The sum total of the depths of these three wells was little short of a hundred cubits. Had he had the patience to devote even a half of the whole of this labour to his first well, without shifting the site of the well from place to place, he would surely have been successful in getting water. Such is the case with men who continually shift their positions in regard to faith. In order to meet with success we should devote ourselves entirely to a single object of faith, without being doubtful as to its efficacy.”

– The Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna

And death a spur towards immortality – Sri Aurobindo

loweswater

But Savitri answered to almighty Death:
“O dark-browed sophist of the universe
Who veilst the Real with its own Idea,
Hiding with brute objects Nature’s living face,
Masking eternity with thy dance of death,
Thou hast woven the ignorant mind into a screen
And made of Thought error’s purveyor and scribe,
And a false witness of mind’s servant sense.
An aesthete of the sorrow of the world,
Champion of a harsh and sad philosophy
Thou hast used words to shutter out the Light
And called in Truth to vindicate a lie.
A lying reality is falsehood’s crown
And a perverted truth her richest gem.
O Death, thou speakest truth but truth that slays,
I answer to thee with the Truth that saves.
A traveller new-discovering himself,
One made of Matter’s world his starting-point,
He made of Nothingness his living-room
And Night a process of the eternal light
And death a spur towards immortality.

– Sri Aurobindo,

Canto III – The Debate of Love and Death. Page 621

photo: Tejvan, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries.

Mother Durga in All – Sri Ramakrishna

Durga

Q. Why do you not lead a family life with your wife?

A. The God Kârtikeya, the leader of the Heavenly army, once happened to scratch a cat with his nail. On going home he saw there was the mark of a scratch on the cheek of his Mother. Seeing this, he asked of her, ‘Mother, dear, how have you got that ugly scratch on your cheek?’ The Goddess Durgâ replied, ‘Child, this is thy own handiwork,–the mark scratched by thy own nail.’ Kârtikeya asked in wonder, ‘Mother, how is it? I never remember to have scratched thee!’ The Mother replied, ‘Darling, hast thou forgotten having scratched a cat this morning?’

Kârtikeya said, ‘Yes, I did scratch a cat; but how did your cheek get marked?’ The Mother replied, ‘Dear child, nothing exists in this world but myself. I am all creation. Whomsoever thou hurtest, thou hurtest me.’ Kârtikeya was greatly surprised at this, and determined thenceforward never to marry; for whom would he marry? Every woman was mother to him. I am like Kârtikeya. I consider every woman as my Divine Mother.

– The Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, #222

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