There is no other way to know, except to live. And there is no other way to live, unless you are aware of what you are living.
Knowing and living are inseparable.
The knower becomes enlightened, but he also becomes afire with life.
The pseudo-religions teach you to be afraid of life too – you have forgotten it in your question – they are not only afraid of death. They don’t talk about death; it is thought unmannerly to talk about death. It is not good etiquette if you are sitting at a dinner table and you start talking about death. What to say about a dinner table! – even at the grave when people are gathered together to pay their last homage they don’t talk about death.
It was one of my pastimes in my childhood to follow every funeral procession. My parents were continually worried: “You don’t know the man who has died, you have no relationship, no friendship with him. Why should you bother and waste your time?” – because the Indian funeral takes three, four or five hours.
First, going out of the city, the procession walking, taking the dead body, and then burning the body on the funeral pyre…. And you know Indians, they can’t do anything efficiently: the funeral pyre won’t catch fire; it will just live half-heartedly and the man will not burn. And everybody is making all kinds of effort because they want to get away from there as quickly as possible. But the dead people are also tricky. They will try their hardest to keep you there as long as possible.
I told my parents, alt is not a question of being related to somebody. I am certainly related with death, that you cannot deny. It does not matter who dies – it is symbolic to me. One day I will be dying. I have to know how people behave with the dead, how the dead behave with the living people; otherwise, how am I going to learn?”
They said, “You bring strange arguments.”
“But,” I said, “you have to convince me that death is not related to me, that I am not going to die. If you can convince me of that, I will stop going; otherwise let me explore.” They could not say to me that I would not be dying, so I said, “then just keep quiet. I am not telling you to go. And I enjoy everything that happens there.”
The first thing I have observed is that nobody talks about death, even there. The funeral pyre is burning somebody’s father, somebody’s brother, somebody’s uncle, somebody’s friend, somebody’s enemy: he was related to many people in many ways. He is dead – and they are all engaged in trivia.