Chapter 5: Dissolving the Five Afflictions
It is flowing through life. If you watch your mind, if you observe yourself, you will find that whether alert or not, a fear of death is continuously there. Whatsoever you do, the fear of death is there. Whatsoever you enjoy, just around the comer the shadow of death is always there, persisting. It follows you. Wherever you go, you go with it. It is something within you. You cannot leave it outside, you cannot escape from it; the fear of death is you.
From where does this fear of death come? Have you known death before? If you have not known death before, why are you afraid of it, of something which you don’t know? If you ask the psychologists, they will say, “Fear is relevant if you know what death is. If you have died before, fear seems relevant.” But you don’t know death. You don’t know whether it is going to be painful or whether it is going to be ecstatic. Then why are you afraid?
No, the fear of death is not really a fear of death, because how can you be afraid of something which is unknown, which is not known at all? How can you be afraid of something which is absolutely unknown to you? Fear of death is not really fear of death. Fear of death is really clinging to life.
Life is there and you know well that you are not living it, it is bypassing you. The river is bypassing you, you are standing on the bank, and it is going continuously out of your hands. The fear of death, basically, is the fear that you are incapable of living and life is going. Soon, there will be no time left, and you have been waiting and you have always been preparing. You are obsessed with preparations.
I have heard about a German scholar who accumulated one of the greatest libraries in the world, from all the countries, from all languages. He was never able to read a single book because he was always accumulating: going to China to find a very rare book written on human skin, then running to Burma, then coming to India, then to Ceylon, then to Afghanistan - his whole life. By the time he was seventy, he had accumulated a vast collection of books, rare books. He was always postponing, and he would read them when the library was complete. And death Came. When he was dying, tears started flowing from his eyes. He asked a friend, “What to do now? No time is left. The library is ready but my life is spent. Do something! Fetch any book from the library, read something from it so that I can understand. At least I can be satisfied a little.” The friend went to the library, fetched a book, came back - but the scholar was dead.
This happens to everybody, to almost everybody; you go on preparing for life. You think millions of preparations have to be made first and then you will enjoy, and then you will live - but by that time, life is gone. Preparations are made but there is nobody to enjoy them. This is the fear, you know it deep down in your guts, you feel it: that life is flowing by, every moment you are dying, every moment you are dying.