Chapter 2: Seeing Life As It Is
But this is a very deep experiment. Until we are prepared to undertake such an experiment, we must try to become aware of whatever suffering comes our way on its own. If we go on becoming more and more aware each time we come across misery, we will gather enough capability to remain conscious even when death arrives. Then nature will allow us to stay awake in death too. Nature, as well, will figure that if the man can stay conscious in pain, he can also remain conscious in death. No one can stay conscious in death all of a sudden, without having had a previous experience of the kind.
A man named P.D. Ouspensky died some years ago. He was a great mathematician from Russia. He is the only person in this century who has done such extensive experiments in relation to death. Three months before his death, he became very ill. The physicians advised him to stay in bed, but in spite of this, he made such an incredible effort - it is beyond imagination. He would not sleep at night; he traveled, walked, ran, was always on the move. The physicians were aghast; they said he needed complete rest. Ouspensky called all his close friends near him but did not say anything to them.
The friends who stayed with him for three months, until his death, have said that for the first time they saw, before their eyes, a man accepting death in a conscious state. They asked him why he did not follow the physicians’ advice. Ouspensky replied, “I want to experience all kinds of pain, lest the pain of death be so great that I might become unconscious. I want to go through every pain before death; that can create such a stamina in me that I can be totally conscious when death comes.” So for three months he made an exemplary effort to go through all kinds of pain.
His friends have written that those who were fit and hearty would get tired, but not Ouspensky. The physicians insisted that he must have complete rest, otherwise it would cause him great harm - but to no avail. The night he died, Ouspensky kept walking back and forth in his room. The physicians who examined him declared that his legs had no more strength left to walk - and yet he kept walking the whole night.
He said, “I want to die walking, lest I might die sitting and become unconscious, or I might die sleeping and become unconscious.” As he walked, he told his friends, “Just a little bit longer - ten more steps and all will be over. I am sinking, but I shall keep walking until I have taken the last step. I want to keep on doing something until the very end, otherwise death may catch me unawares. I may relax and go to sleep - I don’t want this to happen at the moment of death.”
Ouspensky died while taking his last step. Very few people on this earth have died walking like this. He fell down walking; that is, he fell only when his death occurred. Taking his last step, he said, “That’s it; this is my last step. Now I am about to fall. But before departing let me tell you I dropped my body long ago. You will see my body being released now, but I have been seeing for a long time now that the body has dropped and still I exist. The links with the body have all been broken and yet, inside, I still exist. Now only the body will fall - there is no way for me to fall down.”