The primitive people are far closer to the truth: they say that sleep is a small death. They are right, because for a few hours you become completely oblivious to the world, to others, to yourself, to your body. You become completely disconnected for a few hours, then you are reconnected again. It is a small death. Sleep is a small death but not vice versa: death is not eternal sleep; if it were then what would the difference be, Ram?
If you simply want to console yourself that, “I will be eternally asleep in death,” that’s another matter. But truth is not to console you; truth is as it is. The truth is that death has two possibilities. If you die with longing, desiring, then it brings you back into another body, because without a body you cannot make any effort to fulfill your desires. Without the body you cannot eat food, you cannot make love; without the body you cannot become the prime minister of a country. Without the body it is impossible to do anything. The body is the vehicle for doing things: gaining, journeying, reaching, arriving. Without the body you simply are; it is a state of being. With the body you are always becoming: becoming this, becoming that, richer, more famous, more successful. Without the body all becoming ceases. Becoming is another name for desiring, so if a person dies with a deep, deep desire to become something he will be born again into another body. That is one alternative.
The second is: if you have understood the futility of desire, the utter stupidity of desire, if you have seen it through and through – that no desire can ever be fulfilled, that it promises and it promises greatly but it never delivers the goods, that all desires are deceptive, that it is because of our unintelligence that we go on being victims of desires – if you have seen it through and through and you die with no projection in the mind, with no seed of desire, then all seeds are burned. It is because of this that Patanjali has called the ultimate state of samadhi, nirbeej samadhi, seedless samadhi – if you can die with all the seeds burned, there will be no sprout anymore, there will be no other births.
Then where do you go? You don’t fall asleep. In fact to attain to a state of seedless samadhi one has to be absolutely awake, one has to be a buddha, because the seeds of desire are burned only in the fire of awakening. So if you die without any desire, you die in utter awareness, you see death happening. And remember again, by “death” I mean you see the disconnection happening – slowly, slowly the soul is becoming separate from the body. Slowly, slowly it is becoming uprooted from the body, it is becoming freer from the prison. And a moment comes when you are totally free from the prison, outside the prison cell called the bodymind mechanism.
Then you remain eternally awake. Then you remain in the universe, diffused in the ocean of life, but eternally awake. It is not a state of sleep.