Chapter 7: A Snowflake Dissolving in Pure Air
Bassui wrote the following letter to one of his disciples who was about to die:
“The essence of your mind is not born, so it will never die. It is not an existence, which is perishable. It is not an emptiness, which is a mere void. It has neither color nor form. It enjoys no pleasures and suffers no pains.
“I know you are very ill. Like a good Zen student, you are facing that sickness squarely. You may not know exactly who is suffering, but question yourself: what is the essence of this mind? Think only of this. You will need no more. Covet nothing. Your end which is endless is as a snowflake dissolving in pure air.”
Death is not the enemy. It appears to be so because we cling too much to life. The fear of death arises out of the clinging. And because of this clinging we are unable to know what death is. Not only that, we are unable to know what life is too.
The man who is not able to know death will not be able to know life either, because deep down they are two branches of the same tree, If you are afraid of death, basically you will remain - because it is life that brings death. It is through living that you come to dying.
You would like to become stagnant frozen, so that you don’t flow, so that death never happens. You would like to get stuck somewhere on the way, so that you never come to the ocean and disappear.
A man who is afraid of death clings to life too much; but the irony is that even if he clings too much to life, he is not able to see what life is. His clinging to life becomes a barrier to understanding life too. He cannot understand death, he cannot understand life; he remains in a deep misunderstanding, in a great ignorance.
So this is one of the most fundamental things to see: that death is not the enemy. Death cannot be the enemy. In fact, the enemy exists not. The whole existence is one. All is friendly. All is yours, it belongs to you and you belong to it. You are not strangers here.
Existence has given birth to you; existence has mothered you. So when you die, you simply go back to the original source to rest and to be born again.
Death is like a rest. Life is activity: death is rest. And without rest activity is not possible. Life is like the day and death is like the night. And without the night, the day cannot exist on its own. It is night that prepares you for the day, it is night that rejuvenates you, gives you energy back. You move in your deep sleep to the very point where death will lead you.
Every night you go into death - it is a small death - hence in the morning you feel so alive. Unfortunate are those people who don’t die every night. In the morning they are more tired than they were when they went to bed. They were dreaming, they were still clinging to life in their dreams. They didn’t go in a let-go. They didn’t allow death to take possession of them and mend many things and give rest, relaxation, new energy. These are the unfortunate people. The fortunate people are those who go into a tremendously deep sleep, a dreamless sleep. In the morning they are again alive, ready to face life in its manifold forms, full of joy, full of response, ready to take any challenge that life proposes.