8.1 BIRTH & DEATH
WISE SAYINGS FROM DIFFERENT FAITHS
"God initiates creation, and then repeats it; then to God you are returned." Mohammed
"God brings forth the living from the dead, and brings forth the dead from the living; and God enlivens the earth after its death: And so will you all be brought forward." Mohammed
"Self is never born nor does it ever die; nor, having once been, does it again cease to be. Unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval. It is not slain when the body is slain." Sri Krishna
"Count everyday as a forward step towards death, and live every day as if it were your last, so that, fully prepared for death, you may meet the end of your life upon earth with calm and placid face and with a smile upon your lips." Zarathushtra
"Verily, Verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." Jesus Christ
"I am the resurrection and I am life. If a man has faith in me, even though he die, he shall come to life; and no one who is alive and has faith shall ever die." Jesus Christ
"Sorrowful it is, to be born again and again; I therefore sought the one who built this house of spiritual existence, but in vain. Not finding him, not knowing who he is or where, ...... in many forms of birth was I reborn, and wandered here and there." Buddha
DISCOURSES OF SAI BABA
BE AWARE OF DEATH
Man has known about everything else, except death. Why should a person die? Of what benefit is it to die? Why does he die? The answer is: In order that he may not die again. He is born, so that he may not get born again. Having been born, man earns and acquires land, riches, materials, grain, articles of comfort and luxury, which he feels will give him happiness and which therefore become the objects of his struggle. But, the object of realising God is forgotten. You may ask, why should any one seek company, do good deeds, direct his mind towards good thoughts? You are listening to Me and what do you get when you so listen? You agree that I am giving you bliss, is it not? Well what do you give Me in return? Give Me the application of what I am telling you; practise what I teach, that is enough. That is all I ask.
Man should not die like a dog. He should leave the world better and happier than when he came into it. He must get away, full of gratitude for the chance given to him to see God in everything that he saw, heard, touched, smelt and tasted. He must remember the Lord, with his last breath. To get that recollection, a lifetime of practice is needed.
Death is considered as something to be afraid of; as something that should not be spoken about in happy circumstances! But, death is neither good nor bad. You have no choice in the matter. You can't get it sooner if you welcome it; nor can you avoid it if you condemn it as bad. It is a consummation which is inevitable; from the moment of birth, the march to the cremation ground has started. Some reach the place quicker than others, some go by a round-about route and arrive late. That is the only difference between man and man. But yet, man walks about as if death is but a distant calamity. (221063)
Every one has to make his exit some day; that moment should not be a moment of anguish; one should depart gracefully , with a smile and a bow. In order to do that, a lot of preparation is necessary. To depart, leaving all that has been accumulated during a long lifetime, is a hard task; so prepare for it by discarding attachment to one thing after another from now on. You see many things in dreams and many things are acquired by you during dreams: power, pelf, status, reputation. But when you awake you do not weep over the loss, even though for the duration of the dream all that was very real and gave you real satisfaction and joy. That was a 'dream', you tell yourself; what prevents you from treating with similar nonchalance the possessions gathered during the waking stage of your life? Cultivate this attitude and you can depart with a smile whenever the curtain falls on this dreamland stage. (010856)
CONVERSATIONS WITH BABA
Hislop: When Swami says He will confer liberation at death, what does that mean?
Sai: It means that birth is finished with, there is no more birth again.
Hislop: But Swami, there is this temporary liberation that was mentioned. Maybe it is that kind?
Sai: No, it is not like that. Sai gives total, final, liberation.
Hislop: Could there be the ending of individuality, too?
Sai: There could be.
Hislop: Individuality is a nuisance.
Sai: Yes, individuality is a nuisance.
Hislop: Devotees often ask what happens after death. All that I am able to reply is that I understand from Swami that the after-death experience is not uniform, that it is not the same for every person.
Sai: That is the correct answer. In each case there is a corpse. That is similar. But beyond that, it is not similar.
Hislop: Well, Swami, one has to die. Is there some skill in dying? That is, is there a correct road through death which one can hold to and not get lost in the process?
Sai: That is not up to you at the time. You are influenced at that time by the net effect of your life.
Hislop: Swami says that God acts to save the devotee from perdition. What is meant by perdition?
Sai: What do you understand from the word?
Hislop: It seems to me that it means hell.
Sai: That is just mental.
Hislop: But the Buddha speaks of hell as a place.
Sai: It is a place. A place of the mind. A mental state in which there is much worry and suffering. It is an after-death state. Sai is here to guide His devotees so they do not fall into that state. (021282)
PRESENT IS THE MOST SACRED OF ALL TIME
Incarnations of the Divine Atma! Whatever is born into this world and takes a form is sure to change, decay and pass away. But before one dies, between birth and death, there is an intervening period. The changes that come about in that period such as growth and decay are inevitable. These changes in life occur for all living things. Every human being must consider and make an inquiry about the manner in which he is spending the time between his birth and death. Are we making appropriate use of the time and fulfilling the purpose of life? Inquiry helps to gain detachment. He will see that most appearances which man puts on are only pretences. As soon as the merits of his past births are over, he will give up this transient life and die. He will take with him all the good and all the bad that he has done during this life. We try to inquire into the significance of the phenomenal world when we witness birth. Is this cycle of birth and death the only significant feature of this world? On an inquiry, we concludethat we die to be born again and that we are born to die again. This conclusion is not the right thing.
Generally speaking, people take medicine so as to cure themselves of their disease; but correctly one should take medicine so that one does not have to take it again. Similarly an individual having taken birth should try that he may not take birth again. To be born to die and to die to be born again gets one caught up in the wheel of time. Without having a body, one cannot do anything in the world. The body has got a gross form and this gross form is only as a means to fulfil the main purpose of life. This body is as much responsible for bondage as it is for our liberation. They say that man's mind alone is responsible for man's bondage and man's liberation. This is not the complete truth. Both body and mind are responsible for our bondage and liberation. Without the body, one cannot recognise the nature of one's mind. The life, mind and intelligence become evident only while accompanying the body. Therefore, we must use such a sacred body for the useful purpose of seeing truth. Man is the most sacred of allthe animals. To be born as a man is an extraordinary gift. Therefore, man must use this life of his in a purposeful manner. (SSB 73,175)
We should not be afraid at any time that life will fly away from this body. This body is made of elemental substances and that it will perish is an obvious and natural thing. When we think deeply, indeed it should not be a surprise that life will fly away from this body. What should cause surprise is that life could at all stay in the body for such a long time. There is a small example for this. Let us take a cycle tyre or a car tyre. If in that tyre, a small pin is pierced, all the air that is in the tyre will go out. While all the air that is in the tyre goes out under such conditions, we should really wonder how this tyre of our body which has nine big holes in it can at all hold life in it without its leaking out.
Everything is held together by God's strength. God is present everywhere. You are only a means through which God is seeing everyone in this world. You are only imagining that you are seeing with your eyes but you are in fact seeing with God's eyes.
This world is full of God and everything that you see is God. The body is like a water bubble, temporary and transient, destined to perish. A poet describes this situation by saying that you cry when you are born, you cry when you die, you cry all the time in your life for one thing or another; but you do not cry when you find dharma declining. Each one of you is a small particle in the Kingdom of God. You should try to keep in check all the organs of your body; only then you will achieve the desired result. (SSB 73,177)
THE VOYAGE OF DEATH
Death is certain. As long as we have this body, we must discharge our obligations in an exemplary manner. When a photographer is taking your picture he tells you to be ready at the time he clicks. If you are not posing correctly at that instant, the photographer who takes the photograph without cautioning us with the word, "Ready". Therefore, for us to be photographed well in the film-plate of the Lord's Heart, we should be ready always.
Our body can be compared to a camera. Our mind is the lens and our heart is the film-plate in the camera. Our intelligence acts as the switch and our thoughts provide the flash. When all these synchronise properly, we attain the stage of perfect concentration. Control of the senses is essential for such concentration. Youth is the best period of life to achieve control over the senses. If the senses are not mastered when one is young, they will be irrepressible during old age. (SSB 79,136)
You don't know when the cameraman is going to click. Matthew, who takes photographs at the Nilayam, at least jumps about in front of you with the camera pointed at this place or that; but, death will not give any advance intimation, or say, "Ready" and wait until you are ready. Therefore, be ready always, so that you may produce a good impression with His Name on your lips and His Form in your cleansed heart. (221063)
DON'T FEAR DEATH
Death involves certain developments that weaken and extinguish life. It does not affect the Atma; the Atma has no death. It cannot be destroyed. Therefore, one should not fear death. Death is but another stage of life. However long one suffers from illness or however severe the injury, death can happen only when time signals the right moment. When the yearning for living ends, there can be no more birth.
It is the same single energy (sakthi) that activates all hands, sees through all eyes, and hears through all ears. In fact, all mankind is made of one divine substance. The human body, either in America or China, Africa or India, has the same components of flesh, blood and bone. The instinctive urges and awareness are common to all living beings. When investigation is done through scientific means, the truth that there are signs of awareness of life in stone and tree and metals can be demonstrated.
The Atma is a spark of the Divine. Its latent existence can be known by inquirers. God is One. Whatever one's nationality, whichever religion one professes, one can realise the Universal Absolute (Brahma) if one masters the science of spiritual advancement (atma vidya). Faith in the One God is the crux, the central point. Other beliefs, concepts and conjectures revolve as the rim, on the periphery. (Vidya V 24)
The resident in the body has no birth and therefore, no death, but man is hugging the falsehood that he is the body and so is subject to death and birth. A silver cup can be reshaped by the smith into a plate, or later, into a pan-box; but though the name, the form and the function might change, the silver is there, in all three, unchanged in substance, in spite of the births into plate and box and the deaths as cup and plate. (251074)
DIE INTO A NEW DAY
The duration of life is under the control of Him who gave life, the Creator. It does not depend on the calories of food consumed or the quantity of drugs that are injected, or the qualifications of the physician who prescribes the medicines. The chief causes of ill-health and death are fear and loss of faith. If one concentrates on the Atma, which has no change or characteristics, no subtraction or senility, no decline or damage, man can conquer Death. Therefore, the most effective prescription is the injection of knowledge of the Atma, the Soul as one's Real Self (atma-vidya).
Death stalks its prey everywhere, at all times, with relentless determination. It pursues its victims into hospitals, hill-stations, theatres, aeroplanes, submarines; in fact, no one can escape it or take refuge from its grasp. God alone is the giver of life, the guardian of life and the goal of life. Do not contemplate on death; it is just an incident in life; contemplate on God, who is the Master of all life, God who is the Indweller in this physical frame. Be aware of Him all through life and offer all your activity - breathing, talking, walking, earning and spending - to Him, for it was by Him and through Him that you were able to do all these things. To fall ill and to call in a doctor - this is something unnatural, debasing. Once you have offered yourself to God, it must be well with you. There can be nothing ill. (230968)
The master of the house was dying and when the wife and children pestered him with their anxiety, "What is to happen to us, when you leave us?" the dying man turned to them in equal despair; "What is to happen to me, when I leave you?" he asked and died. Do not move helplessly on to that doom of despair. Do not die in spirit, though the body may fall away. Know that the real "You" is deathless; make death a sublime act of liberation. (010365)