You say, Sagar, “I feel a strong connection between death and meditation.” There is. In the ancient scriptures of this land, even the master is defined as death because his whole function, his whole work is to teach you meditation. In other words, he is teaching you to die without dying – to pass through the experience of death, surprised that you are still alive; death was like a cloud that has passed; it has not even scratched you. Hence the fascination, and the fear. The fascination is to know the mysterious experience everybody has to pass through, has passed through many times, but became unconscious. And the fear – that perhaps death is only the end and not another beginning.
It happened, just in the beginning of this century, that the King of Varanasi was to be operated on; the operation was major. But the King was very stubborn and he wouldn’t take any kind of anesthesia. He said, “You can do the operation, but I want to see it happen; I don’t want to be unconscious.”
The doctors were puzzled. It was against medical practice…such a major operation was going to be too painful; the man might die because of the pain. Surgery needs you to be unconscious.
Perhaps the science of surgery has learned the art of anesthesia from the experience of death, because death is the greatest surgery. It separates you from your body, from your heart, and you have remained identified with all this for seventy years, eighty years. They have become almost your real self. The separation is going to be very painful, and there is a limit to pain.
Have you ever noticed? – there is no unbearable pain. The words unbearable pain exist only in language – all pain is bearable. The moment it becomes unbearable, you fall unconscious. Your unconsciousness is a way to bear it.
If he had been an ordinary man, the doctors would not have listened to him – but he was a king, and a very well-known king, known all over the country as a great wise man. He persuaded the surgeons, “Don’t be worried, nothing is going to happen to me. Just give me five minutes before you start your operation so that I can arrange myself into a meditative state. Once I’m in meditation, I am already far away from the body. Then you can cut my whole body into pieces – I will be only a witness, and a faraway witness, as if it is happening to somebody else.”
The moment was very critical; the operation had to be done immediately. If it was not done immediately, it might cause death. There were only two alternatives: either to operate and allow the patient to remain conscious, or not to operate, but follow the old routine of science. But in that case, death was certain. In the first case, there was a chance that perhaps this man could manage, and he was so insistent…finding no way to persuade him, they had to operate.
That was the first operation done without anesthesia, in a state of meditation. The king simply closed his eyes, became silent. Even the surgeons felt something changing around the king – the vibe, the presence; his face became relaxed like a small baby, just born, and after five minutes they started the operation. The operation took two hours, and they were trembling with fear; in fact, they were not sure that the king would survive – the shock might be too much. But when the operation was over, the king asked them, “Can I open my eyes now?”