It is only when you confront the mortal nature of your existence that the longing to know the basic nature of life arises in a human being — when it dawns upon you, in an experiential manner, that you are here with an expiry date. This longing and, in turn, this seeking is avoided only due to belief systems or ready-made answers to existential questions. Otherwise, the very nature of human intelligence is such that it would want to query and know, “What is beyond this body? What is it that makes this life tick? Where does it come from and where will it go?” Every human being invariably has the longing to know, but most quench themselves with culturally relevant and existing explanations in a given society.
So a spiritual process is a conscious and experiential way to search and know the nature of one’s life. It is common knowledge that the more you know something, the better you are at handling it. Take the very phone or computer that you use — the more you know it, the better you can use it.
The science of yoga is a technical expression to one’s longing to know; it is also a means to handle life at its best. But yoga is not just about life. When we talk about living well, we are actually also talking about dying well. It is very important that you die well. Dying gracefully, dying joyfully, is very important. It is the final thing that you get to do in your life, so shouldn’t you do it gracefully and wonderfully? But most people are doing it horribly.
People come to me not only to learn how to live gracefully, but also how to die gracefully. Right now, you can say you are living or you can say you are dying. The process of dying is actually on — one day it will be complete. It is just that there is so much negativity attached to the word “death.” But death is very much a part of life. One who does not know how to die, one who is not willing to die, cannot live.
If you are afraid of death, you will only avoid life. You cannot avoid death. And it is not that beyond a certain age you should look at it; every day of your life you need to be aware that you are mortal. There are certain meditations that are conducted where everything that you consider as “myself” will become nothing; it is as if you die. Again, when you open your eyes, it is all there. If these methods are practiced consciously, when the time to die actually comes, it will no longer be a big issue.
The process that you refer to as life is something that can be constantly improved upon. It is a project that will never be over; that is the beauty of it. Not everybody is living with the same quality. Whether in doing simple physical things or in how people are keeping themselves, in everything, not everybody is living at the same level of understanding and gracefulness.
Even if you live here for a thousand years and do everything that you wish to do, still something more, something better could be done. This is the way of life. But death is perfect and absolute when it happens; death does not need anybody’s assistance. You do not have to think about it, you do not have to reflect upon it. But mortality — the limited nature of life — is something that needs to be reflected upon. You are just like a miracle happening; you drop from somewhere, and one day you are gone. Busy in between. You are like a bubble: when the bubble is on, it is so real; one prick — gone.
If you look at this life right now, it is inhalation and exhalation — if the next inhalation does not happen, that is it. That is how fragile this life is. People always think death is something that happens to somebody else; it is not so, it will happen to you and me.
If you remind yourself every day that you will also die, you will naturally move towards knowing higher dimensions of perception. If you are aware of the mortal nature of your life, is there time to get angry with somebody? Is there time to quarrel with somebody? Is there time to do anything stupid in life? Once you come to terms with death and you are conscious that you will die, you will want to make every moment of your life as beautiful as possible. Only people who believe they are immortal can fight, and fight to the death. Those who are constantly aware of the mortal and fragile nature of existence do not want to miss a single moment; they will naturally be aware. They cannot take anything for granted; they will live very purposefully. This is a simple way of becoming aware.