As a child, one of my favorite games was to imagine I was going to die in the next minute. I enjoyed feeling the tension build up until it reached a peak and then slipped into relaxation, and I felt as if I was bubbling with happiness. Later, when I was a teenager, for a period of six months, I would frequently be awoken by a feeling of panic and fear, a sense of impending death. I would struggle to prevent my dying by hanging on to the thought of somebody or something I wanted to live for. Then the panic would subside and the fear would gradually go. The last time this happened to me as a teenager, I woke feeling the fear of death the strongest I ever had. But this time, instead of panicking, without any conscious decision, I found myself accepting death, and relaxing. Immediately, there was an explosion of light and a sense of being uplifted by bliss. It was not until some years later, when I took sannyas and one day was meditating alone, that the fear of death returned. I was overwhelmed by the intensity of it, and could do nothing to transform it or even repress it: I jumped up in a panic and tried to shake it off. Why has this fear been a constant companion throughout my life, and what is its significance for me?
Dhyan Amiyo, meditation and death are very similar experiences. In death, your ego disappears; only your pure being remains. The same happens in meditation too: the disappearance of the ego and the presence only of pure isness, of your being. The similarity is so deep that just as people are afraid of death, they are also afraid of meditation. On the other hand, if you are not afraid of meditation, you will not be afraid of death either.
Meditation prepares you for death.
Our whole education is only for life. That is only half an education, and the other half – which is far more important, which comes as the crescendo of life – is completely missing from all systems of education that have existed before or are now in existence.
Meditation prepares you for the other half; it helps you to know death without dying. And once you have known death without dying, the fear of death will disappear forever. Even when death comes, you will be silently watching it, knowing absolutely that it cannot even make a small scratch on your being. It is going to take away your body, your mind, but not you.
You belong to the immortal life. Your experience was good; you are saying, “As a child, one of my favorite games was to imagine I was going to die in the next minute. I enjoyed feeling the tension build up until it reached a peak and then slipped into relaxation, and I felt as if I was bubbling with happiness.”
Unknowingly, you were doing a simple exercise of meditation. Perhaps from your past life, you may have carried the knowledge, the experience of the meditation, but it is one meditation amongst hundreds of methods – this is one of the methods. And it is not only you, Dhyan Amiyo; many children go on playing things which are of immense importance. But they cannot understand the importance, they can only play them as a game.
For example, all over the world, children like to twirl, to whirl, and naturally the parents will stop them: “Don’t do that, you may get dizzy. You may fall, you may hurt yourself.” But all over the world, children enjoy it. And it was from seeing children enjoying whirling that Jalaluddin Rumi got the idea that there must be something…because whenever you see a child whirling, his face changes. A strange grace comes to his face; he starts radiating a certain aura, and when he stops he is so full of joy….