A few moments before death a man becomes unconscious, and so you do not remember your past deaths. The only person who remembers his past death is the man who dies in consciousness. Remembering happens when one is aware; it cannot happen in unconsciousness. If a man sees death in awareness, then the lord of death turns into Ram, then Mara becomes Rama, then death becomes God. That was what happened to Valmiki.
As Valmiki was repeating “Mara, Mara,” he all of a sudden became enlightened. The mantra reversed, and the continuous sound of “Rama” was heard. The letters in “Rama” and “Mara” are the same, only their positions change. In “Mara,” “Ma” is first and “Ra” is next; in “Rama,” “Ra” is first and “Ma” is second. This is the only difference. But there is a great difference between “Mara” and “Rama,” between death and God. God is ultimate existence; death is fear and darkness.
But enlightenment only happens when you are able to face death in awareness. So don’t run away from death – wherever you go it is sure to follow you. There is no escape from it. Stop and look at death bravely.
Raman Maharshi has told how he achieved enlightenment. When he was seventeen years old, all of a sudden one day he felt that death was approaching. He had been wanting to know death, and so he lay down on the ground. When it is coming what else can be done? No one is ever saved from it. If death is certain, then die bravely, then meet it in awareness.
His hands and feet grew cold, his body became numb and he saw death approaching. The body lost its vitality and became almost lifeless, and yet he watched it approaching. At that moment the transformation took place. The body was dead, but he was alive. He sat up. He realized that death had happened to the body, but that there was no death for him. The fear disappeared that day; that day his search was over. That day the word “Mara” reversed, that day it became “Rama.” Then there was nothing left to know.
And so the technique of Raman Maharshi is very easy. He says only this much – learn to die. And when you have learned this you will find, at the time of your death, that there is something within you which does not die. Your consciousness does not die. The body will be lying there, absolutely lifeless, but you will be fully alert, totally alive within. You have never been this alive, this alert, because up to now you have been one with the body; up to now its whole load has been on you. But now the body lies there dead, and there is no burden at all. Now you are free to fly in the sky.
If you practice how to die for a few days – lying down for a time every day and allowing the body to be as if dead – you will attain to meditation. You only have to remember one thing – that the body is now dead, that it is now just a corpse. It is not to be shaken or disturbed at all – a corpse does not move. Suppose an ant bites you. Then what will you do? You are lying there dead, and the ant is biting you. You should only observe it.