You ask me, “When I am dead, am I really dead?” Ram Jethmalani, the real you will not be dead, but Ram Jethmalani is going to be dead, because Ram Jethmalani is nothing but the name of the combination of soul and body; it is the name of the identity. We feel identified with our bodies; we think we are our bodies, our minds. Remember, mind is only a part of the body, the subtle part, the invisible part. If we are identified with the bodymind mechanism, then certainly this identification is going to die.
Ram Jethmalani is bound to die, but there is something in Ram Jethmalani which is not going to die. You have to become aware of it. And the only way to become aware of it is to be more meditative, to be more of a witness. Start watching your body, start watching your mind; don’t get involved, remain aloof, distant, cool. Just as one sits on the bank of a river and watches the river flow by. You don’t say, “I am the river.” So it is with the body, watch it. Become more and more of a witness. And as witnessing grows and becomes integrated, you will be able to see Ram Jethmalani disappearing even before death.
In meditation the ego dies, the ego disappears. Once the ego has disappeared, once you have seen yourself as an egoless entity, then there is no death for you.
We can say it in another way: it is the ego that creates the illusion of death. And ego itself is false, hence death too is false. We cling to the false, that’s why we have to suffer from death.
Sannyas means becoming disidentified from the bodymind mechanism – becoming a witness, a seer, a watcher on the hill. And as you become a seer, a watcher, the hill rises higher and higher, and the dark, dark valley is left behind. You go on seeing the valley for the time being; then, slowly, slowly it becomes so distant you can’t see it, you can’t hear any noise from the valley, and a moment comes at the ultimate peak of the hill when the valley no longer exists for you. Then although alive, in a sense you are dead. Ashtavakra, one of the greatest seers of this country, says: “The sannyasin is one who is dead even while he is alive. But the person who is dead while he is alive will be alive when he is dead.”
You also ask me, “I want to be really convinced that death is eternal sleep.” Ram, convictions won’t help much, because conviction means somebody else silencing your doubts, repressing your doubts, somebody else becoming an authority for you. Maybe logically he is more argumentative, maybe he has a great rational mind and he can convince you that there is no death, and you may be silenced and your doubts may be silenced. But even the doubts that have been silenced will come back again, sooner or later, because they have not disappeared – they have only been repressed by logical arguments.
Convictions don’t help much; doubts persist as an undercurrent. One is a convinced Christian, another is a convinced Hindu. And I have seen all kinds of people – they are all full of doubts, all of them – Christians, Hindus, Mohammedans. In fact the more full of doubt a person is, the more stubborn he is, the more he tries to believe, because those doubts are painful. He says, “I strongly believe in the Gita, in the Koran, in the Bible. I am a staunch Catholic.”