This is why those who know do not consider death to be real death – because nothing perishes in it, we merely change our clothes. Understand this well: the body is no more than clothes, no more than an outer covering. Ordinarily we think that the body is born first and then the mind is born in it. This is wrong. During the last two hundred years Western thinking and belief has spread the illusion that the body is created first, and that the mind is then born in it, as a by-product, an epiphenomenon, as simply one quality, one attribute of the body. It is similar to what the ancient Charvakas used to say – that if you separate the ingredients that are blended to make wine, and eat or drink them separately, there will be no intoxication. The intoxicant is a by-product of the contents being mixed together. It does not come from somewhere of its own accord, it has no separate existence. It is produced by mixing a number of things together. If the ingredients are separated it disappears. So the ancient Charvakas used to argue that the body is composed of five elements and mind is produced by the union of these five elements. Mind is a by-product.
Western science is at present also in a state of ignorance in this matter, believing that the mind comes after the body, as a shadow. But in the East, those who have searched deeply into this subject maintain that the mind is first and the body comes like a shadow after it. Let us understand it in this way: what comes first in your life, the action or the desire? First comes the desire in the mind, and then it is turned into action – the action follows. But if anyone sees it from outside, he will see the action first and will have to guess about the desire behind the action. Suppose anger arose within me and I slapped you: first came anger, first came the mind, then the hand was raised and the body performed the action. But you will see my hand and the act of slapping first. Even so, you will no doubt reason that I must first have become angry. The bodily action is seen first, and as a result you start guessing what is going on in my mind. But still those workings of my mind came first, and the action of the body follows.
When a child is born we also see the body first, but those who know deeply say it is the mind that comes first. That very mind causes the body to be conceived and born. That mind creates the outline, the form of this body. It is a sort of blueprint, it is an in-built program. When a person dies, his mind goes on its journey with a blueprint, and that blueprint maps itself into a new womb. And you will be surprised to know this: we commonly believe that a body is produced when a man and a woman make love, and then a soul enters the body, but on looking deeply into this phenomenon it becomes evident that when a soul desires to enter a womb, then both the man and the woman become eager for sexual activity. Again, it is the body that is seen first, and we have to guess about the mind. However, those who have looked deeply into this matter say that when a soul desirous of entering a womb begins to wander around you, then there arises a longing for sexual enjoyment. The mind is busy getting a body ready for itself. You might not have thought of this happening.
When you lie down to sleep at night – when sleep begins to descend upon you and has almost caught you – bring your consciousness to the last thought in your mind, then go to sleep; and when you wake up in the morning and are ready to leave your bed, look back and find your first thought on waking. You will be very surprised by the result. The last thought of the night becomes the first one in the morning. In the same way, the last desire at the time of death becomes the first desire at the time of birth.