Chapter 5: Life and Death
A subtle insight is required to see this slow-motion advance of death and to recognize the situation of the self in the scheme of things. And the desire to attain to life is born only when a man realizes the precarious position his self is in. When he sees the self being enveloped by the fires of death he is like a man who wants to escape from a burning house. Then he develops an intense and acute thirst to live. This wish to live is the greatest fortune that can befall a man because this desire leads to his penetration of the deeper layers of life.
Do you have this desire in you? Does your heart want to reach the unknown, to move beyond the known? If not, then know well that your eyes are closed and that your blindness will lead you nowhere but into the hands of death.
Awaken while there is still time. Open your eyes. Look. Death is all around you. But in your self, outside the world and outside time, there is nectar to be found. The man who reaches to that divine nectar will not encounter death anywhere. To him death is just an illusion and only life is real.
Christ said. “Man cannot live by bread alone.” He spoke truly; bread is not enough. This does not mean that a man is able to live without bread. He cannot. But he cannot live on bread and on nothing else. It is impossible to live without bread, but to live solely on bread is equally impossible.
Bread is to man as roots are to plants. The roots do not exist for themselves; they are for producing fruit, for creating flowers. If fruit and flowers do not grow, then the existence of the roots has been in vain. And although fruit and flowers cannot be produced without the roots, the fruit and the flowers are not produced for the roots. The lowly is needed to create the lofty. The lowly serves its purpose through the very evolution that creates the higher form.
Man needs bread in order that he may live and satisfy his hunger for truth, for the beauty of life. Bread is needed to satisfy hungers even greater than the hunger for bread. But if there is no greater hunger, the bread has existed in vain. Bread does not exist for bread alone.
On its own it has no value. Its purpose is served when it transcends its own existence. Its purpose lies in those values of life that are far above and beyond it.
A sadhu used to come to see me and would always tell me he was thinking about immortality. I used to tell him it was just not possible to think about immortality, because whatsoever falls within the sphere of thinking simply cannot be immortal. Thought is mortal. How can it have any contact with immortality. I used to tell him he would be better off to think about mortality, to search for death and to come to know it.
Facing death squarely is what leads the soul to immortality. But we are frightened of death; we prefer to ponder immortality. Doesn’t all this thinking and talk about immortality come out of our fear of death? And how can a mind that is terrified of death succeed in attaining immortality?