At the time of his death, his friends saw a kind of light in his eyes. A peace, joy and radiance were visible which shine through when one is standing on the threshold of the world beyond. But one needs to make preparations for this, a continuous preparation. If a person prepares himself fully, then death becomes a wonderful experience. There is no other phenomenon more valuable than this, because what is revealed at the time of death can never be known otherwise. Then death looks like a friend, for only at the occurrence of death can we experience that we are a living organism – not before that.
Remember, the darker the night, the brighter the stars. The flash of lightning stands out like a silver strand, the darker the clouds are. Similarly, when, in its full form, death surrounds us from all sides, at that moment the very center of life manifests in all its glory – never before that. Death surrounds us like darkness, and in the middle, that very center of life – call it atman, the soul – shines in its full splendor; the surrounding darkness makes it luminous. But at that moment we become unconscious. At the very moment of death, which could otherwise become the moment to know our being, we become unconscious. Hence one will have to make preparations toward raising one’s consciousness. Meditation is that preparation.
Meditation is an experiment in how one attains to a gradual, voluntary death. It is an experiment in how one moves within and then leaves the body. If one meditates throughout his life, he will attain to total meditation at the moment of death.
When death happens in full consciousness, the soul of the person takes its next birth in full consciousness. Then the very first day of his new life is not a day of ignorance but of full knowledge. Even in the mother’s womb he remains fully conscious. Only one more birth is possible for one who has died in a conscious state. There is no other birth possible for him after that – because one who has experienced what birth is, what death is and what life is, attains liberation.
One who has taken birth in awareness, we have called him avatara, tirthankara, Buddha, Jesus, Krishna. And the thing that distinguishes them from the rest of us is awareness. They are awakened and we are asleep. Having taken conscious birth, this becomes their final journey on earth. They have something we don’t have, which, painstakingly, they continue to bring to us. The difference between the awakened ones and us is simply this: their previous death and the birth thereafter happened in a state of awareness – hence they live their entire life in awareness.
People in Tibet do a little experiment called Bardo. It is a very valuable experiment, carried out only at the time of death. When someone is about to die, people who know gather around him and make him do Bardo. But only he who has meditated in his life can be made to go through Bardo – not otherwise. In the experiment of Bardo, as soon as a person dies, instructions are given from the outside that he should remain fully awake. He is told to keep watching whatever follows next, because in that state, many times things happen which the dying person can never understand. New phenomena are not so easy to follow right away.