Chapter 7: Death and Discipline
When death is absorbed in life yam is born: a life of discipline. Then you live but you always live with the remembrance of death. You move but you always know that you are moving towards death. You enjoy but you always know that this is not going to last forever. Death becomes your shadow, part of your being, part of your perspective. You have absorbed death.now self-discipline will be possible. Now you will think, “How to live?” because life is not the goal now: death is also part of it. “How to live?” that you can live and die also beautifully. “How to live?” that not only does life become a crescendo of bliss, but death becomes the highest, because death is the climax of life.
To live in such a way that you become capable of living totally and you become capable of dying totally, that s the whole meaning of self-discipline. Self-discipline is not a suppression; it is to live a directed life, a life with the sense of direction. It is to live a life fully alert and aware of death. Then your river of life has both the banks. Life and death, and the river of consciousness flows between these two. Anybody who is trying to live life denying death its part is trying to move along one bank; his river of consciousness cannot be total. He will lack something; something very beautiful he will lack. His life will be superficial - there will be no depth in it. Without death there is no depth.
And if you move to the other extreme as Indians have done - they start living with death continuously: afraid, fearful, praying, doing things just how to become deathless, immortal - then they stop living at all. That too is an obsession. They will also flow along one bank: their life will also be a tragedy.
West is a tragedy, East is a tragedy - because a total life has not yet been possible. Is it possible to have a beautiful sex life, remembering death? Is it possible to eat, and eat blissfully, remembering death? Is it possible to love, and love deeply, knowing well that you are going to die and the beloved is going to die? If it is possible then a total life becomes possible. Then you are absolutely balanced; then you are complete. Then you lack nothing; then you will have a fulfillment; a deep contentment will descend on you.
The life of yam is a life of balance. These five vows of Patanjali are to give you a balance. But you can misunderstand them and you can create again another unbalanced life. Yoga is not against indulgence; yoga is for balance. Yoga says, “Be alive but be always ready to die also.” It looks contradictory. Yoga says, “Enjoy. But, remember, this is not your home. This is an overnight stay.” Nothing is wrong: even if you are enjoying in a dharmashala and it is a full moon night, nothing is wrong. Enjoy it, but don’t take the dharmashala to be your home, because tomorrow we leave. We will be thankful for this overnight stay, we will be grateful - it was good while it lasted - but don’t ask it to last forever. If you ask that it should last forever, this is one extreme; and if you don’t enjoy at all because it is not going to last forever, this is another extreme. And in both the ways you remain half.
If you try to understand me, this is my whole effort: to make you whole and total so all the contradictions are absorbed and a harmony arises. I don’t want you to become monotonous. A life of ordinary indulgence is monotonous. A life of ordinary yoga is also monotonous, boring. A life which comprehends all contradictions in it, which has many notes in it but, still, all notes fall in a harmony; that life is a rich life. And to become that rich life, to me, is yoga.