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Chapter 15: Life After Death and Rebirth

In this context I recall a significant event from the life of Rabindranath, which will help you to understand the thing better. The great poet is on his deathbed, and an intimate friend has come to say farewell. The friend says, “You sang all you wanted to sing, you said all you wanted to say; not only that, you did all you wanted to do. I believe now you can leave this world in perfect peace and contentment, with a feeling of utter gratefulness to God.”

Rabindranath opened his eyes and said, “You have got it all wrong. Right now I have been saying to God, ‘How ironical it is that when I have put together all the musical instruments and am ready to sing, I am called upon to leave the world.’ I have yet to sing my song. What people think to be my song is only preparation for the real song I was going to begin, but alas! I have yet to say what I wanted to say.”

Arvind cannot say the same thing. He has said all that he wanted to say, and said them very methodically. And I say that as a mystic Rabindranath is head and shoulders above Arvind.

You also want to know what will happen to Arjuna’s individuality if he is only an instrument in the hands of existence. If everything happens exactly as it has to happen, if everything is pre-determined, then what is the meaning and responsibility of an individual person? Isn’t he just a cog in the machine?

It is a significant question, so try to listen carefully to what I am going to say here. You will come upon some basic truths of life if you understand this thing rightly.

Certainly one’s individuality will be destroyed if he is forced to be an instrument in the hands of another. But if someone becomes an instrument on his own accord, just the contrary will happen, his individuality will achieve its ultimate flowering. There is great difference between these two states. If someone forcibly turns you into a means and uses you as such, you are bound to lose your soul. But your soul will be fulfilled if you surrender on your own and become an instrument in the hands of existence. Please understand this difference - it is very subtle and great. For instance, if you come and overpower me and fetter my hands and feet, I become your slave. But what will happen if 1, on my own, willingly volunteer myself to be your slave? Then I become the master of slavery - its architect.

I would like to relate a story from the life of the Greek sage, Diogenes. I love to relate this story again and again; it is really beautiful.

Diogenes is passing through a forest. He is naked, walking fearlessly like a lion walks. Some people who are engaged in slave-trade happen to see Diogenes. They are tempted by his powerful physique. It is really splendid, as splendid as that of Mahavira. It is no wonder that both Mahavira and Diogenes discard clothes and live naked; they have such beautiful bodies that they alone can afford to go naked. Although the slave-traders are eight in number, they are very afraid of Diogenes who looks so powerful. It would be difficult for them to overpower and capture him.

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