Death……is the only certainty in this uncertain world. Right from the smallest of microbes to the largest of the living entities, everyone and everything perishes. Death comes uninvited. No one can give a guarantee that they will die in a specific time or place. According to statistics, 2 people die each second. The causes can be natural or accidental.
Is death the end of life or is it the gateway to a new life?
Katha Upanishad defines death as an illusion which appears to those who cannot grasp the Absolute Reality. Death and birth are two sides of life’s cosmic cycle. When we say someone has died, we are referring to the mortal coils. The soul is immortal and passes on to the next body. Popular cultures believe in the afterlife where the soul exits the body and according to one’s karma, will get a body that his/her consciousness has created at the time of death.
“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas”.
If this is the case, a doubt arises- If I need to break the cycle of the birth and death and attain liberation/moksha, why not think of God at the moment of death? The answer is: No, it doesn’t work that way.
How can one think of something they haven’t thought about so profoundly throughout their life and then suddenly think of God just before you die? One’s mind develops a certain way of thinking depending on the lifestyle. The mind is very fickle. It takes practice to channelize it in the direction you want. One may think for a moment that I have controlled the mind, but the very next instant you will find it adrift. Practitioners of meditation and students would have observed that it doesn’t take time for the mind to get distracted.
Let us forget about the afterlife. Rather than asking what’s after death, we must question how to live this life? Because, when something is inevitable, why waste life worrying about it? Instead, let us take charge of our present lives and make it worth living. We can do so by being grateful every morning we wake up (because you are fortunate if you do so), carrying out our chores sincerely and at the end of the day before you retire to bed, ask yourselves-
- Are you satisfied with the way your day went?
- Have you completed whatever you had planned for that day?
- If this was your last day, have you lived it to the fullest?
If the answers to all of them is a yes, even if you are going to die, you will atleast die satisfied that your day hasn’t been a waste. If it’s a no, then do your best to be better than yesterday.
Living life to the fullest can be interpreted differently by different people. For some, it can be seeking an adventure, for some, it may be partying. Whatever it is, they are all external pleasures. One must not forget to journey inwards and realize his status because, at the end of the day, real happiness is drawn from oneself than from others.
Death is not the greatest loss in life but what dies inside us while we live. It is funny how people realize the value of something only after they lost it. Humans are fragile-physically, mentally and emotionally. All these vulnerabilities make life a very torturous experience. Despite all the trouble, all the joy that we experience, death is the common denomination in all our lives.
“Death is certain for one who has been born, and rebirth is inevitable for one who has died. Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable”
It is death that gives life meaning knowing that someday we are to going to depart, to know that your days are numbered, that your time is short. So make it worth living. Why should you fill your heart with bitterness towards anything or anyone for that matter? Let bygones be bygones. Have a goal, live it, chase your dreams and make them a reality. Don’t worry about trivial issues because they are minuscule in the grand scale of time. Why to waste your mental or physical energy on something that will disappoint you?
Let this stanza from the wonderful poem “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost be a motto for all of us who aspire to leave their footprints on the sands of time:
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,But I have promises to keep,And miles to go before I sleep,And miles to go before I sleep”.