Search & Read
The Yoga of Death
Life is death because reality is non-dual consciousness. Most of us think that life and death are two different existential facts: I am alive now and I will be dead one fine day. But death is not an event. It is simply the other side of life. Life cannot exist without death and death cannot exist without life, just as day is night, up is down and desire is action. Everything here is mutually interdependent. So there is never a moment here when you are not dead.
And how does death appear to me every day? It appears as ever-changing objects. Remember, everything other than me, limitless awareness, is an object. And don’t forget that, as far as the Creation is concerned, there is no object without consciousness and no consciousness without objects. Yes, I – consciousness – am free of objects, but it is meaningless to speak of consciousness without objects or objects without consciousness from the point of view of an embodied being, a jiva. So death is simply change. Birth is the appearance of an object and death is the inevitable disappearance of an object.
Why then is the inevitable disappearance of the body, which is only one decaying object among many, so important to us? If you look closely at your experience, you will find a deeply disturbing built-in anxiety concerning the apparent non-existence of the body. Why do we rush madly from one experience to another? Why don’t we just take our time and savor every moment of our death-like lives? Because we think that time is running out. But time is not running out. Time is eternal. In this life or the next, life and death dance side by side, locked in an eternal embrace.
In the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna, “The wise grieve neither for the dead or for the living.” This seemingly shocking statement simply means that the emotions we invest in getting and keeping objects are completely gratuitous. Gain implies loss and loss implies gain. When you have an object – a particular experience, for instance – it apparently non-exists as it apparently exists. What is to gain – or lose?
The word “yoga” has two meanings in Sanskrit. The most popular meaning is “to acquire, to obtain.” Perhaps when you read the title of this essay you thought that I was going to reveal some special technique for dealing with change. There is no technique that will turn mortal objects into immortal objects, the body, for instance.
“Topic” is the second meaning of the word yoga. So the yoga of death means the topic of death. So what? Understanding this topic turns mortal objects into immortal objects and sets the jiva free of worry. Why? Because when we inquire into death and life we see that there is no difference between them; life is death and death is life. If this is true – and it is – what’s to worry? – when you are alive you are already dead. So dance, skeleton. Dance!