One who is conscious while awake slowly learns how to sleep consciously. One who lives consciously one day dies consciously. One who dies consciously is able to know that he has become one with Brahman, the ultimate reality. But first one has to know this in the consciousness hidden within one’s own body. Then one day this outer pot also breaks and the inner sky merges with the vast sky.
One who dies consciously passes through wonderful experiences. Death does not feel like an enemy to him, death feels like a friend to him. Death feels like a great union with the divine, with the vast. One who dies consciously can also take a new birth consciously. One who is born consciously, his life is altogether different because he does not repeat the same things over and over again which he has repeated many times before. All that becomes foolish and meaningless to him. His life becomes something new, his life enters new dimensions. And his witnessing is continuous; one who was a witness at the time of birth, one who was a witness at the time of a previous death, he remains a witness throughout his life.
Thus in only one death you can die fully conscious, and in only one birth you can be fully conscious; thereafter the cycle of birth and death ceases. Thereafter you disappear from the world of bodies. For this phenomenon of disappearance, in India we have devised a very beautiful word: kaivalya. This is a wonderful word. Kaivalya means, “I am alone. Only I am and there is nothing else; only I, only consciousness, only the soul, nothing else; only the watcher, only the witness, nothing else. All else is a game, all else is a dream. The truth is only the witnessing consciousness. Only the seer is the truth, the seen is not the truth.” Kaivalya is the name given to this experience.
Let us understand this a little. You were a child, then you became a youth, and then you became old. Childhood went away and youth came, youth went away and old age came. This means you are nothing but a constant change. Neither childhood remains, nor youth, nor old age – everything changes. But is there anything within you that does not change? You were miserable, then you became happy; you were happy, then you became miserable; you were peaceful, then you became unpeaceful; you were unpeaceful, then you became peaceful – everything changes. You were rich, you became poor; you were poor, you became rich – everything changes. But is there any one thing within you that does not change?
If there is not such a thing within you, then you simply are not there at all. Then what is the meaning of your being there? Who will then thread together your childhood, your youth and your old age, like a string of a necklace? A necklace is a necklace only when its beads are threaded together on a string. If there is no string inside to thread them all together and only the beads are there, then not only the necklace will not be there but also all the beads will be scattered.
Your childhood is there like a bead, your youth is there like a bead, your old age is there like a bead – but where is the string on which these are all threaded together? Where is that continuity factor? And that continuity factor is the truth. All else changes. India’s definition is that whatever changes, we call it a dream. Let this be understood properly.