The first question:
When I am dead, am I really dead? I want to be really convinced that death is eternal sleep.
Ram Jethmalani, death is the greatest illusion. It has never happened, it can’t happen in the very nature of things. Yes, there is something which creates the illusion: death is a disconnection between the body and the soul but only a disconnection; neither the body dies nor the soul. The body cannot die because it is already dead, it belongs to the world of matter. How can a dead thing die? And the soul cannot die because it belongs to the world of eternity, existence – it is life itself. How can life die?
Both are together in us. This connection becomes disconnected: the soul becomes unplugged from the body. That’s all that death is, what we call death. The body moves back to matter, to the earth; and the soul, if it still has desires, longings, starts seeking another womb, another opportunity to fulfill them. Or if the soul is finished with all desires, with all longings, then there is no longer any possibility of its coming back into a bodily form – then it moves into eternal consciousness.
Moving into eternal consciousness is a very paradoxical phenomenon: one is not and yet one is. A dewdrop slipping into the ocean is no more, in a sense – as a dewdrop it is no more; the boundary that made it a dewdrop has disappeared. But in another sense it is more than it has ever been; it has become the very ocean, its boundary has expanded to infinity, its boundary has exploded into the unbounded.
A man like Buddha becomes the universal consciousness, yet – and this is the paradox – his individuality is not lost, his consciousness is not lost.
So, Ram, I cannot say that death is eternal sleep. On the contrary, it is eternal awakening. Poets have been telling you down the ages: “Death is eternal sleep, don’t be afraid.” They themselves know not, they are simply giving you consolation. But what can the difference be between real death and eternal sleep? Have you ever thought about it? If sleep is eternal it is death. If it is never going to be broken then where is the difference? A corpse and an eternally asleep man are exactly the same. If the sleep is going to be forever and forever, it is death.