Birth and death are simply stations where vehicles are changed – where the old vehicles are left behind, where tired horses are abandoned and fresh ones are acquired. But both these acts take place in our state of unconsciousness. And one whose birth and death happens in this unconscious state cannot live a conscious life – he functions in an almost half-conscious state, in an almost half-awakened state of life.
What I wish to say is that it is essential to see death, to understand it, to recognize it. But this is possible only when we die; one can only see it while dying. Then what is the way now? And if one sees death only while dying, then there is no way to understand it – because at the time of death one will become unconscious.
Yes, there is a way now. We can experiment entering into death of our own free will. And, may I say to you, meditation or samadhi is nothing else but that. The experience of entering death voluntarily is meditation, samadhi. The inevitable and automatic phenomenon of dropping the body that will take place at the time of death – we can willingly experience that now through creating a distance, inside, between the self and the body. And through leaving the body from the inside, we can experience the event of death, we can experience death occurring. We can experience death today, this evening…. Because the occurrence of death simply means that in that journey our soul and our body will experience a distinction from each other, just as when a vehicle is left behind and the traveler moves on.
I have heard that a man went to see a Mohammedan fakir, Sheikh Farid, and said, “We have heard that when Mansoor’s hands and legs were cut off he felt no pain…which is hard to believe. Even a thorn hurts when it pricks the foot. Won’t it hurt if one’s hands and legs are cut off? It seems that these are all fantastic stories.” The man also said, “We hear that when Jesus was hung on the cross he did not feel any pain. And he was permitted to say his final prayers. What the bleeding, naked Jesus – hung on a cross, pierced with thorns, hands stuck with nails – said in the final moments can hardly be believed! He said, ‘Forgive these people, for they do not know what they are doing.’”
You also must have heard this sentence. And the people all over the world who believe in Christ repeat it continuously. The sentence is very simple. Jesus said, “O Lord, please forgive these people, because they know not what they are doing.” Reading this sentence, people ordinarily understand Jesus is saying that the poor people didn’t know they were killing a good man like him. No, that was not what Jesus meant. What Jesus meant was that “These naïve people do not know that the person they are killing cannot die. Forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing. They are doing something which is impossible – they are committing the act of killing, which is impossible.”
The man said, “It is hard to believe that a person about to be killed could show so much compassion. In fact, he would be filled with anger.”