Chapter 23: Life Is a Blessing
You were breathing, you were talking, you were sleeping, you were waking up, you were working.. These are the symptoms for medical science of a man who is alive, but the mystics know much - much more than medical science. They know that these are only symptoms, but they are not life - and that life can exist without the symptoms, or the symptoms can exist without life.
I am reminded of one Indian mystic, Brahma Yogi. For almost thirty years he was learning a single thing, because he himself was a doctor and he wanted to prove to medical science that your symptoms are not synonymous with life. It is a strange world. He exhibited it in Oxford, in Cambridge, in Harvard, in Tokyo, in Kolkata.
What he used to do was sit in deep meditation and slowly his breathing would stop, the pulse would go away, the heartbeat would not be there and the doctors would check - the best doctors of those universities - and a dozen doctors would write a death certificate for him. All the symptoms that medical science thinks of as death were totally fulfilled in the man. There was no possibility of his being alive.
And this was his condition: that when they found him dead they should immediately sign the death certificate. After ten minutes, slowly he would start breathing again, the pulse would come back, the heartbeat would come back, and slowly he would open his eyes and smile at the doctors. He collected these death certificates so many times, in so many medical colleges, in so many universities, that it became a great puzzle. The doctors could not believe it. All the symptoms were absolutely clear. What was his secret?
His secret has been known for centuries in the East. Even you can feel it on a smaller basis, because I don’t want you to waste thirty years just to prove it. That is useless. But on a smaller basis you can experience it while you meditate. As meditation deepens, your breathing becomes slower, silent.
You know perfectly well that when you are angry, humiliated, your breathing becomes faster; your heartbeat becomes faster. When suddenly you hear some good news, that you have won a lottery, your heart beats so loudly that even the neighbors can hear it!
You know your heartbeat, your breathing change with your emotions. In meditation you are going beyond emotions, beyond thoughts. Naturally, breathing becomes so silent that unless you try to hear it very closely, it is very difficult.
In Zen, when a meditator goes very deep, the only way to find whether he is alive or dead is to bring a mirror in front of his nose. You cannot hear his breathing, but on the mirror the breathing leaves a little vapor. That remains the only sign that he is alive.
The heart starts going into a subtler rhythm, the pulse becomes so slow.almost invisible. Before quartz watches with batteries came into existence, I was in difficulty. Automatic watches function perfectly, but they depend on your pulse. Your pulse goes on giving them movement, and the movement of your hands. The moment you put them away, within two or three hours they stop.