“Only two questions are important: ‘From where do you come, and where are you going?’ Why are these two questions important? – because they will make you aware of your inner being which travels from birth to birth in new lives. And once you have become alert about that greatest phenomenon in life, your own being, then whether or not you know anything else does not matter.”
Then for many years I had no chance to see him. I was lecturing at the University of Nagpur, and somebody who knew me and knew Mahatma Bhagwandin told me, “He is here and he is very sick. There is every possibility he will not survive.” So after the lecture I rushed to his place. I could not believe my eyes! He had been a very healthy man, and it had been only four or five years that I had not seen him. And now he was just a skeleton, continuously coughing. Even to talk was difficult for him. That coughing was so continuous…the moment he said something, in the middle of the sentence he would start coughing.
I said, “You need not say anything.”
But he insisted, “No, I have to talk because I am not going to survive and I am immensely sad that I could not do what you had told me. And now I realize all my knowledge has been futile; it doesn’t help. I am dying as ignorant as I was born.”
I said, “This too is a great achievement: that you are dying innocent and fully aware that knowledge is useless. And still there is time…because you are still alive. It may take a few days or maybe a few months…nobody knows. Why don’t you begin to meditate on the same point which is coming closer every moment: Where are you going? From where have you come? And who are you?”
He said with tears in his eyes, “I will do it.”
I had to leave, so I left him. Just after three days he died. But his friend, Punem Chand Ranka, with whom he was staying, informed me, “You will be immensely happy that he managed. He died not coughing, but laughing.” And this was his last message to me: that he knows from where he is coming and to where he is going and who this fellow is who is traveling. He has recognized him. He is dying with great joy. At his death he was suffering very much, but he died laughing, smiling. The body suffered, and the mind knew that the body was suffering, but because he had understood the innermost core of his being, it did not matter at all. He knew now that his life source is eternal.
This meditation which Ta Hui is mentioning is one of the oldest. He is just using a wrong word: student. He should use the word disciple. The student simply remains concerned with words, theories, philosophies. The disciple is more involved; he wants to know with his own eyes, he wants to experience with his own heart.
And who is it who knows of birth and death?