SADHANA FOR A HAPPY ENDING OF LIFE: THE YOGA OF CONSTANCY
37. Living With The Awareness Of Death
4. The Eighth Chapter puts forward a thesis that the thought uppermost in the mind at the time of death prevails over others in the next birth. When we start on a journey, we carry some provisions with us to sustain us on our journey. The thought uppermost in the mind at the time of death, which is the essence of what has been earned in this life, is the provision with which we start our journey in the next birth. We begin a new day with the previous day’s gains in hand. Death is like a long sleep, after which we begin a new life with the gains of the previous birth. End of this life is the beginning of the next one. Hence one must always be aware of the inevitability of death, while conducting oneself in this life.
5. This is necessary also to enable us to face the dread of death and find ways and means to counter it. There is a story from the life of Saint Eknath. A gentleman once asked him, “Sir, your life is so simple and pure. Why ours is not so? You never lose your temper or quarrel with anybody. How serene, pure and kind-hearted you are!” Eknath said, “Leave me out for the time being. Let me tell you that I have come to know something about you. You are going to die after seven days.” Who would disbelieve Eknath? Only seven days of life left! The gentleman rushed to his home. He could think of nothing else. He started entrusting his affairs to others and making preparations for the end. He was taken ill and got confined to bed. Six days passed. On the seventh day, Eknath went to him and enquired, “How are you?” The man replied, “Sir, I am about to leave this world.” Eknath asked, “Well, how many sins have you committed in the last six days? How many evil thoughts crossed your mind?” The gentleman replied, “Sir, where was the time for that? Death was always there before my eyes.” Eknath said, “Now you know the reason why the lives of people like me are sinless.” How can the mind entertain evil thoughts when death is standing before you, ready to pounce on you like a tiger? Even for committing sin, the mind has to be relaxed. Constant awareness of death is the means to be free from sin. If death is staring in the face, who can muster up courage to commit sin?