Death the Great Leveller
"Death, the great leveller," they say. And we often
refer to the fact that king or pauper, man or woman, saint or sinner,
the end of the human life is the same for all. In that sense we say
death is the great leveller. But for me it seems to point to the fact
that the levelling is after death. Some people have asked me questions,
"How is this possible that we can begin life with equal opportunity?
Does it not go against this business of samskara in Sahaj Marg?"
It's a valid question, but it also shows that we don't understand Sahaj
Marg very well yet, for several reasons.
The first reason is Babuji's definition of death itself,
that when we become unable to bear the loads and the burdens of this
life, Nature brings a pause in the existence; in the worldly existence;
temporal existence and gives us relief, so that the Self can recoup
its energies once again; review its life; work off as much samskara
as possible, and start afresh.
Now why do we start afresh? Precisely because in that interregnum
between this end and that beginning, it has not been possible to work
off all the samskaras. There is some remnant, some residue. So, we come
again. So, death is really a holiday from life. And Babuji has used
this beautiful analogy, that even the prisoners in the dungeons are
let out for one or two hours every day to go up in the sunshine in the
courtyards, to have fresh air, to have some exercise, so that they can
face the next period of incarceration in the dungeon.
Therefore death is not a punishment, neither is death an
end. Some Occidental writers on the subject treat death with contempt,
with fear. And many people have been educated into thinking that death
is to be avoided, even by committing suicide, which is ridiculous. You
cannot avoid death by dying. You can only avoid death by living properly.
Because again and again I have these references in the books that I
read, of all classes, whether it be science fiction, whether it be philosophy,
poetry, this misery about death, "Why am I born if I am only to
die?" I ask you, "What else should I be born for?" It's
like saying, "Why do I get onto this TGV if I only have to get
out of it again?"It would be as silly, you see. A journey does
not mean that you go on and on forever. Life goes on, but not journeys.
So again and again we come back to this idea that when we
think of life only in the body as the true life, and that after the
body drops off we have no existence, we are going into some sort of
limbo, some sort of dirty thing, we make the mistake ourselves. So whatever
may be the residual samskara that we bring to this life, it is absolutely
a fact that at the beginning we all have the same opportunity that any
one of us has.
I repeat, there is no doubt that opportunity at the beginning
is the same. I find this thought reflected for instance in the Tibetan
Book of the Dead. You may or may not believe in it, but it is an
old system, and a superb system, where again this thought is reflected.
That at the moment of death, everything is possible. Babuji has said,
"At the moment of death, it is possible to take the soul from here
and put it there, to liberate it." The trouble begins thereafter.
So the need to die in the right way.
Now when we are afraid of death, and we say, "I don't
want to die at all," how can we accept this idea that we have to
die correctly? Die rightly? Constant remembrance is very much a feature
of this dying rightly. Because if you are ever in His memory, remembering
Him all the time, and our end comes in this life with the thought of
the Master in our mind, He comes, takes us away. That is liberation.
That is, the moment of death becomes the moment of liberation.
At every moment of this transition between this death and
that life, liberation continues to be possible. Liberation was possible
absolutely at the moment of death. Possibilities, according to the Tibetan
tradition, continue through death. It continues into the next life.
What is holding us back? According to them, our fears and temptations.
According to Sahaj Marg our samskaras. So what is the difference? There
is no difference. All traditions which are not religious per se speak
of the same possibility. Religion talks of death, burial, judgement,
possible redemption. The non-religious, I won't say they are irreligious,
but those philosophies which transcend religion always speak of the
possibility of escape. Not an escape in the idea of escape like a sinner
running away from something, or a prisoner breaking out of jail, but
escaping from our own self, the lower self. This possibility is absolute,
it is eternal. It has never stopped at any moment in time. It has never
been withheld from anybody. This is the absolute justice, mercy, compassion,
love of the Almighty. In this we have to have faith.
This being so, how can our opportunities differ at birth?
They did not differ at death. Because anybody dying with this thought
of the Ultimate, with the thought of his goal in mind, reaches that
goal – anybody! To ensure that we have the right thought at the moment
of oblivion, is all this problem that we are facing – meditation, constant
remembrance, developing love for the Master. So that if we have established
it as a continuing truth in our existence, it cannot depart from us
at the moment of death. We shall die with this thought, with this condition.
And therefore there is no more question of being reborn, and of not
being liberated. Hinduism says, even if you are not able to do this,
if at the end of your life, at that moment you are able to think of
God in His absolute form, which is a formless, attributeless, nameless
existence, then too, this is possible.