In the East it is widely believed – and I have seen it with my own eyes, so it is not a question of belief for me, I never believe in anything unless I see it – that before a man dies, six months before, he stops seeing the tip of his nose. His eyes just won’t go down that far to see the tip of his nose; he cannot see the tip of his own nose. Within exactly six months he is going to die. That is an ancient, perhaps a ten-thousand-year-old discovery of ayurveda. When the ayurvedic physician comes to see if the patient is in the last stage, the first thing he wants to know is, “Please, can you see the tip of your nose?”
Now, any allopathic doctor seeing this will think this is stupid: “What has seeing the tip of the nose to do with his death? He is dying and you are joking, kidding? What are you doing?” The doctor is not aware of a strange phenomenon: that the eyes slowly stop turning downwards. When the man dies, they turn completely upwards. If you see a dead man you will see his eyes are completely upturned; you will see only the whites of the eyes. That’s why in all traditions, all over the world, the dead man’s eyes are closed immediately – because he may freak out many people who see his eyes. Just the whites are visible; the black has turned up.
It must have been this experience that gave the idea, ten thousand years ago, that if the eyes ultimately, in death, turn completely upwards, they must start turning up some time before that – because life is always a process; nothing happens suddenly. There is nothing like suddenness in existence. So by and by, watching, they discovered that six months is the time when the eyes start getting less and less flexible, more and more rigid; more and more turning upwards, less and less turning downwards. And if the man cannot see the tip of his own nose, the physician suggests to the family, “Don’t waste time unnecessarily. Prepare him for death. Help him to die peacefully, silently, meditatively, with gratitude.”
Only in the East has it been possible to prepare even for death. People don’t prepare even for life. They come to know that they were alive only when they are dying or perhaps dead. Then suddenly a shock comes to them: “My God! What has happened? I was alive and now I am no more alive. Those eighty years, ninety years have passed and I have not done anything, not felt for a single moment fulfilled, contented. Not for a single moment could I have said, ‘I am blessed.’”
Except for man, everything – every bird, every animal – in existence comes in this way: essence first, then manifestation. They are programmed by nature; their whole life is not an evolution but an unfolding. All that they are going to become is already in the basic program, and they cannot move a single inch from the program. It is not in their power to decide whether to be a rose or to be a marigold. Hence there is no anxiety about this. They are never asked to decide about their essence. They are never on the crossroads, they are always following a single route. There is nothing for them to choose about “being.”