Chapter 16: The Art of Dying
Before we enter into the seventh stage and try to penetrate its mysteries, a few things will help to create the base for the understanding of something which is the most difficult to understand. First, the six are stages, but the seventh is really not a stage. It is called a stage because there is no other way to call it, but the seventh is not a stage. The six are stages, the seventh you are. The seventh is not a stage, it is your very nature; it is you, your being.
For example, you were a child once; childhood was a stage. You were not childhood, you passed through childhood. It was a station, a stage, a phase, but you were not identified with it. If you were the childhood itself then there would have been no possibility of becoming a youth. Who would have become a youth? The child could not have become a youth, the child would have remained the child. But you were not the child. You passed through childhood, you became a youth. Then youth is again a stage, you are not one with it. If you are one with it you could not have been a child and you cannot grow old. You will pass through it also, it is a phase.
So this is the definition of a stage: you come into it, you pass through it, you go beyond it - but you are not it. Then you will become old, that too is a stage. You will pass into death. Birth is a stage, death is a stage. One who passes through all these stages.. The being, the life force, the energy that you are, the consciousness that you are - that one is not a stage because you can never pass through it, you can never go beyond it. That is not a stage, that is your very nature; that you are. So the seventh is not a stage. It is called a stage because there is no other way of talking about it. Six are stages, the seventh is the one who passes through these stages. The seventh is your very nature. This is the first thing.
The second thing, all the six can be described, they have a defined nature. You enter into them, they have a beginning; you pass through them, they have a middle; you finish with them, they have an end - they can be defined. Anything which has a beginning, a middle and an end can be defined, but you - you are indefinable. You don’t have any beginning, you don’t have any middle, you don’t have any end. You never begin, you will never end. You are the eternal. The life energy that exists in you has always been in existence, will always be so. There was never a time when you were not, and there will never be a time when you will not be. You will always be, you are nontemporal.
The temporal can be defined through time. The nontemporal cannot be defined, it is timeless. Just as you are nontemporal you are nonspatial also. You exist in this space you call your body, but you have existed in many spaces. Buddha says he remembers his past lives. He says, “Sometime in my past lives I was an elephant.” So then he existed in the space called elephant. He relates a beautiful story about the elephant and how the elephant could become a buddha.