There is a difference between thinking and seeing – and the difference is significant. The West puts great emphasis on thinking. That’s why they have named their science of thinking philosophy. Philosophy means conceptual thinking. We have named the same science darshan. Darshan means to see; darshan does not mean thinking. This needs to be understood a little. We have called it darshan while they have called it philosophy, and there is a fundamental difference between the two. Those who take philosophy and darshan to be synonymous know nothing. They are not synonymous. That’s why there’s nothing like Indian philosophy and nothing like Western darshan.
The West has a science of thinking – it consists of investigation, logic, analysis. The East cared for something else. The East has experienced that there are certain facts which can never be known by thinking about them. These facts will have to be seen, will have to be lived. And there is an enormous difference between living and thinking.
A man who thinks about love may perhaps write a thesis on it, but a lover lives it, sees it; it’s possible he may not be able to write a thesis. And if someone asks a lover to say something about love, he may close his eyes, tears may start rolling down his cheeks, and he might say, “Please don’t ask. What can I say about love?” One who has thought about love will explain it for hours, but he may not even know one iota of love.
Thinking and seeing are two altogether different processes. So I am not saying you should think about death. You can never know death by thinking about it. You will have to see it. What I am saying is: here is death, right now within you, and you have to see it. What I call the “I” is dying all the time. This phenomenon of death will have to be seen, this phenomenon of death will have to be lived, this phenomenon of death, that “I am dying, I am dying,” will have to be accepted.
We try our best to falsify death; we have invented a thousand ways to falsify it. Of course we can dye our white hair, but that does not prove death a lie – it invariably comes. Even underneath the dyed color the hair is still white. They are the indications that death has started approaching, that it is sure to come. How can we falsify it? No matter how much we go on falsifying it, it makes no difference – it is approaching, nonstop. The only difference is that we can fail to know it.
What I am asking is: how will one who hasn’t even known death yet know what life is? My point is: death is on the circumference; life is at the center. If we don’t even know the circumference, how will we ever know the center? And if we run away from the circumference, we will never reach closer to the center. If you become frightened of the walls that make up the outer limits of a house, and escape, how will you ever enter the inner dwelling? Death is the periphery and life is the temple at the center of it. By running away from the periphery, we also run away from life. One who comes to know death will, by and by, uncover it and begin to understand life as well.
Death is the gateway to knowing life. Eluding death is eluding life as well. So when I say “Know death,” recognize the facts – I am not asking you to think.