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Chapter 8: Not Knowing Life Is Death

My beloved ones, man doesn’t even know what life is. And if we can’t know what life is, then there is no possibility of our knowing death either. As long as life itself remains unfamiliar, as long as it remains an enigma, there is no way one can be familiar with death, no way one can ever know what death is. The truth is, death seems to occur because we have no idea of what life is. For those who know life, death is an impossible word. It is something which has never occurred, never occurs, can never occur.

There are certain words which are absolutely false; they contain not even an iota of truth. The word death is one of them. It is a totally false word. No event like death occurs anywhere. But we see people dying every day. Every day, death seems to be happening all around us.

Every village has a cremation ground. And if we understand rightly, we will come to realize that wherever we may be standing on the earth, the dead bodies of countless people have been cremated on that very spot. The very piece of land on which we may have built our houses has been a cemetery at some time or other. Millions upon millions of people have died, and are dying every day. And yet, you will be surprised if I say there is no other word in the entire human language more false than “death.”

There was a mystic in Tibet by the name of Marpa. Someone once came to him and said, “I have come to ask you about life and death.” Marpa gave a big laugh and said, “If you want to know about life you are most welcome, because I know what life is. As far as death is concerned, I have not had any meeting with death, I am not acquainted with it. If you want to know death, go and ask those who are as good as dead, or those who are already dead. I am familiar with life, I can talk about life. I can show you what life is. I am not familiar with death.”

This story is similar to the tale of darkness and light. Perhaps you may have heard it. Once darkness went to see God and implored, “Lord, this sun of yours is out to get me. I am exhausted. He starts chasing me at dawn and only after much trouble leaves me alone in the evening. What wrong have I done? What kind of enmity is this? Why is this sun following me and harassing me? I barely manage to rest after a hectic day when once again I find him standing at my door at dawn. Again I have to run for my life, again I have to escape - this has been going on since eternity. I have run out of patience. I can’t take it any more. I beg you, please make him understand.”

It is said that God called the sun and said, “Why are you after darkness? What wrong has he done you? Why the enmity? What grievance do you have against him?”

“Darkness?” asked the sun. “I have been wandering the universe since time immemorial, but I have never come across darkness. I don’t know who darkness is. Where is he? Please bring him before me so that I may ask his forgiveness, come to know him, and stay out of his way.”

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