Chapter 12: Becoming a Witness
In order for one to stay awake at the time of death, or in order for one to successfully experience a conscious death in meditation, what preparations should the seeker make in relation to the body system, the breathing system, the way of breathing, his life energy, celibacy, and his state of mind? Please explain in detail.
Before one can remain conscious in the moment of death, first one needs to prepare to stay conscious in pain and suffering. Ordinarily, it is not possible for one who becomes unconscious even in suffering to stay awake at the time of death. One needs to understand what it means to become unconscious when in suffering. That will make one understand what it means to be conscious in suffering too.
Becoming unconscious when one is in misery means one has identified oneself with the misery. When you have a headache, you don’t feel any distance between the headache and yourself; you don’t remain just a distant watcher. Rather, you feel as if you are in pain. When you have a fever, it doesn’t feel as though the body is hot, somewhere at a distance from you, instead you feel as if you have become hot. This is identification. When your foot is hurt and wounded, you don’t feel just the affected foot; rather, you feel as if you are hurt and wounded.
Basically, we don’t feel any distance between our selves and our bodies. We live identified with the body. When hunger arises, one doesn’t say his body is hungry and he is aware if it, instead he says, “I am hungry.” But this is not the truth. The truth is, the body is hungry and he is aware of it. He is simply the center of awareness - continuously aware of whatsoever is happening. If there is a thorn hurting the foot, he knows it; if there is a headache, he knows it; if the stomach needs food, he knows it.
Man is consciousness, consciousness which is continuously aware. He is not the experiencer, he is simply the knower. This is the reality. But our state of mind is not that of the knower, it is that of the experiencer. When the knower turns into being the experiencer; when he knows not, but rather becomes identified with the act itself; when he does not remain a witness watching from a distance, but rather becomes the participant in the act, that is when the identification takes place. Then he becomes one with the act. This identification prevents him from waking up because in order to be awake, in order to be aware, a certain distance is required, a space is needed.
I am able to see you only because there is a distance between you and me. If the whole distance between you and me were to be removed, I wouldn’t be able to see you. I am able to see you because there is a space between us. If this entire space were somehow eliminated, it wouldn’t be possible for me to see you. My eyes can see you, because there is a space in between but my very eyes are unable to see themselves.