Farid gave a hearty laugh and said, “You have raised a good question, but I will answer it later. First, do me a little favor.” He picked up a coconut lying nearby, gave it to him and asked him to break it open, cautioning him not to break the kernel.
But the coconut was unripe, so the man said, “Pardon me, I cannot do this. The coconut is completely raw, and if I break open the shell the kernel will break too.”
Farid asked him to put that coconut away. Then he gave him another coconut, one which was dry, and asked him to break that one open. “Can you save the kernel of this one?” he asked.
And the man replied, “Yes, the kernel can be saved.”
Farid said, “I have given you an answer. Did you understand?”
The man replied, “I didn’t understand anything. What relation is there between a coconut and your answer? What relation is there between the coconut and my question?”
Farid said, “Put this coconut away too. There is no need to break it or anything. I am pointing out to you that there is one raw coconut which still has the kernel and the shell joined together – if you hit the shell, the kernel will also break. Then there is the dry coconut. Now how is the dry coconut different from the raw coconut? There is a slight difference: the kernel of the dry coconut has shrunk inside and become separated from the shell; a distance has occurred between the kernel and the shell. Now you say, even after breaking open the shell, the kernel can be saved. So I have answered your question!”
The man said, “I still don’t get it.” The fakir said, “Go, die and understand – without that you cannot follow what I am saying. But even then you will not be able to follow me because at the time of death you will become unconscious. One day the kernel and the shell will separate, but at that moment you will become unconscious. If you want to understand, then start learning now how to separate the kernel from the shell – now, while you are alive.”
If the shell – the body, and the kernel – the consciousness, separate; at this very instant, death is finished. With the creation of that distance, you come to know that the shell and the kernel are two separate things; that you will continue to survive in spite of the breaking of the shell, that there is no question of you breaking, of you disappearing. In that state, even though death will occur, it cannot penetrate inside you – it will occur outside you. It means only that which you are not will die. That which you are will survive.