So Indian thinking says that this manifest brahman, in its expanding process, will pass through childhood, youth and old age and again return to fall into unmanifest brahman. It will again be zero and void. It will return to the original source from where it began its journey. Its circle will be a huge one. The span of our life-circle will be of seventy years. There are lives that revolve through small circles. A butterfly is born in the morning and its life-circle is complete in the evening. And there are circles smaller than this, too. There are animals who live only for a few moments. They are born at the beginning of a moment and die by the end of that moment. But do not be under the impression that this animal having a life of one moment lives a lesser life than one who lives for seventy years. Do not think its life is less because it completes its circle in one moment, while yours lasts seventy years. It has its childhood, its youth, it makes love, children are born, it has its old age and it dies. In a circle lasting for a moment it completes its seventy years intensely.
But the circle of seventy years cannot be called a large circle. Scientists say that our earth was born some four thousand million years ago. We have no means to find out in which stage of its life the earth is now, but from certain considerations it appears it is in old age. The production of food is decreasing, and the world population is increasing. Death seems to be near. All things necessary for life are in deficiency. Coal, petrol and food are in short supply, all the chemicals of the earth are in short supply. The earth is getting old, so it may die soon.
What does “soon” mean? The word soon is not to be understood from our personal point of view; if the earth has taken four thousand million years to grow old, what is another four thousand million years? But we cannot make any estimate about the earth. There are about seventy million cells in each human body. Those cells have no idea at all that you are also there, and though these seventy million microscopic cells live in your body, you do not know anything at all about them. Within your body they are born, grow up, become old, leave children behind them, and die, making their graves in your body – and yet you will know nothing about them. During seventy years of your life, millions of these organisms will be born and will die. In a similar way, the earth does not know anything about us and we do not know anything about the life of the earth. Its life of millions of years is on a circle.
It is difficult to determine the age of the entire universe, the entire manifest brahman, but one thing is certain – there is no transgression of the law in this world. Sooner or later, the law is fulfilled. Therefore, the sage says in this sutra that there are two phases of brahman – the manifest which is, and the unmanifest from which this whole universe was created, and in which it will again be absorbed: the central brahman and the expanded brahman.
“He who knows the expanded brahman conquers both – he goes beyond it. And he who knows the central brahman attains to immortality.” But the expanded brahman is an enclosure containing death. Death is bound to happen in it. The circle will have to complete itself. If there is birth, death will surely follow it. Then why does the sage say that such a person conquers death?
What does overcoming death mean? Do the sages not die? All the sages die. All enlightened people die. For sure, overcoming death does not mean not to die. The sage who sang that he who has known manifest brahman overcomes death, is no more. So either he said this unknowingly or falsely – if the statement was correct he should not have died!