A Talk on Death
by Sri Chinmoy
Dear seekers of the transcendental Truth, I wish to give a talk on death. What is death? Death is the immortal pilgrim’s short rest along the road of Eternity. Death is a necessary experience for human beings at the present state of their evolving consciousness. Death is a shattering blow for desiring human beings and, at the same time, it is an awakening hand for aspiring human beings.
There are two types of desiring human beings. One type considers death to be an evil force, since death’s arrival prevents all his teeming desires from being fulfilled on earth. Therefore, he considers death an enemy, an unwelcome guest. The second type has come to realise that desire itself is painful. When he exercises his capacity and talents in order to fulfil a desire, he sees that this very process is hurtful and painful. When the result comes, it comes either in the form of failure or in the form of success. If it comes in the form of failure, he is doomed to disappointment. And if it comes in the form of success, even then he is not totally happy, for he thought that the success would be something more illumining and more fulfilling than it turns out to be. Alas, he does not get the kind of success that he actually expected from his tireless efforts. So neither desire nor the result of desire is satisfactory; both are extremely discouraging, disappointing and painful. This kind of desiring man welcomes death; he longs for it. Since he cannot stay on earth even for a day without desire and frustration, he wants to leave earth. But again, when death knocks at his door, his whole being is shattered; he cries for life. At that time, he does not want to welcome death. When desire life proves unsatisfactory he wants death; but when death actually knocks at his door he wants something else; he wants to stay on earth.
As there are two types of desiring persons, even so are there two types of aspiring human beings. One type always longs for the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. For him, the Kingdom of Heaven is not a chimerical mist; it is something within his aspiring heart. He wants to bring it to the fore and manifest it here on earth. But he can do so only by conquering death. He has to conquer death for good; then only will it be possible for him to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the fore or bring it down from above.
The second type of aspiring person wants to offer another message. He says that no doubt we have to conquer death, but it is not the physical or human body that will conquer death; it is the consciousness within the physical frame that will conquer death. The earth bound consciousness has to enjoy the Heaven free Light and Delight. Just by staying on earth for a long span of time-four hundred or five hundred years-we do not accomplish anything significant. If we go to some Indian villages, we see that there are many people who have been on earth for more than one hundred years. But when it is a matter of inner experience, inner growth, spiritual development, divine achievement, they have achieved next to nothing. They are leading an ordinary human life, if not a half-animal life. It is not the mere prolongation of physical life that we need. The consciousness of the reality within us must be expanded, enlarged, energised and immortalised. True, in order to achieve a divine and immortal consciousness, we have to stay on earth for quite a few years. But this is not for the sake of the body’s pleasure-life, but for the expansion and enlargement of the consciousness within the body.
The Vedic Seers of the hoary past offer a most significant prayer: “Lord Supreme, grant us the eyes to see You for a hundred years. Grant us the ears to hear Your divine Message for a hundred years. Grant us the hearts to serve You for a hundred years.” Then they say not just for a hundred years, but far beyond a hundred years. Why? Just to serve God, fulfil God and manifest God here on earth. They want to live on earth for the divine manifestation. They want from God an infinite period of life so that they can realise, reveal and manifest Him. This is their aim. The body will die eventually, but the Immortality of the divinised consciousness must be offered to Mother Earth so that Mother Earth gets something unique, unprecedented, immortal and supreme.
Spiritual people have discovered something else. They are of the opinion that he who does not aspire is a dead soul. One has not to die physically in order to be considered dead. No! He who does not aspire is dead because he is making little or no progress. When we make progress, we are heading toward a new reality. Each time we enter into a new reality, a new life dawns on earth and we are utilised by it. A moment used undivinely increases the reach of the hands of death. A moment used divinely extends and adds to our life.
If we want to live in the eternal Now, we have to feel that the past is dust, that the past is a dead experience. We have to obliterate it from our consciousness. Each second that is disappearing from our life is dead. If we identify ourselves with the passing second and enter into the past with it, then we experience death. But if we utilise each second for a divine purpose, then it has new life. The future we do not know, but we want to grow into the future or we want to bring down the life of the future into the immediacy of today.
The Vedic Seers realised that movement is life, that if we do not move in the spiritual life, then death knocks at our door. But again, there is life in deep silence, in the inmost recesses of Silence Life. In Silence-Life, the sound body is constantly coming into existence. But this is the deepest and most meaningful discovery: one has to reach the highest realm of Consciousness in order to live in the transcendental Silence-Life. Then one can consciously create at every moment the sound body that is necessary for God manifestation on earth.
Death is preparation; death is relaxation. Until it is time to prepare ourselves once more to enter into the battlefield of life, we relax for a short while in death. Life is first of all an experience, the experience that will free us from ignorance sea and inspire us to swim in the sea of Wisdom Light. Then life becomes God satisfaction; in God satisfaction we experience the height of God’s ever transcending Dream and the depth of God’s ever-fulfilling Reality.
The desiring man thinks death is destruction. A beginner seeker feels death is a supreme mystery. An advanced seeker knows that death is a short rest. A God-realised person has unmistakably discovered that death is an instrument of God. Death is an instrument of God when it frightens the desiring man so that he does not wallow in the pleasures of ignorance, so that he cries for a higher, more illumining and more fulfilling life. Death is also a divine instrument when it plays its role by increasing the aspiration of the seeker. Before death’s arrival, a seeker wants to accomplish quite a few things for Mother Earth and Father Heaven, so he invokes Peace, Light and Bliss from above with ever increasing aspiration, for he wants to inundate his earthly being with these qualities in infinite measure long before death’s arrival at his life’s door.
Here we are all seekers. Some of us are unconsciously growing into immortal Life or flowing with the river of immortal Life; others are consciously invoking the infinite Light of the ever transcending Beyond, the Light of immortal Life which we utilise for God’s total, complete and perfect manifestation on earth. Each seeker is a creator. Each seeker is a saviour. Each seeker is a liberator. Each seeker is the conscious representative of the Absolute Supreme precisely because in his creation, in his aspiration and in his realisation he discovers a life which is constantly transcending its own height. In this ever transcending movement, death plays the role of a devoted, surrendered and all fulfilling instrument of the Absolute Supreme.
When one lived the life of desire, death stood as an obstacle, an ignorance force. But when one became a seeker, he saw that death is only a loving instrument, that death is nothing but the younger brother of life, As a younger brother, death feels that it is its bounded duty to help its elder brother, life. It does this by offering Immortality’s Light, Eternity’s Height, Infinity’s Smile and Perfection’s Satisfaction to earth.
- Sri Chinmoy
June 27th, 1974
University of Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne, England