Death, Celebration till eternity, A fulfilment, Celestial Dancing
– A Sikh Perspective –
K S Ahluwalia
Death is not to be afraid of, scared of, or escaped; it’s a moment of completion, rejoicing, celebrating, fulfilment all across. Death in Sikh ethos is welcoming a new experience, a new door opening. Sikh thought teaches us to die with head held high, with grace, with courage. It’s a whole new way of viewing death. Not many have the courage to even charter this thought.
How to die is a great art, it’s a celestial poetry, a dance till eternity. Sikh ethos beckons me to learn the art of dying, cause one who learns the art of dying, is expert in art of living too. One who agrees to die becomes worthy of living a supreme life. Only those who have known how to erase themselves also come to know how to be.
Life and death aren’t contrary to each others. This false belief is the cause of all fear producing fatal results. Perhaps nothing has caused so much harm to the human race as this contradiction- amusingly, it now has its ramifications on many levels. If we divide all essential things into separate parts – which are to each other contradictory, the ultimate result will be nothing but the creation of a schizophrenic, insane man.
Incidentally cold and hot aren’t contradictory; they simply are different degrees qualifying the same thing. Our experience of cold and hot isn’t absolute; it’s relative, only relative. Same is the case between heaven and hell- a difference only of degree. They aren’t diametrically opposite to each other; the difference is only between the higher and the lower rung, between a child and an old man.
The same analogy exists between birth and death; else one who is born will never die. If birth and death were contrary, how could birth end in death. We only reach a point of our natural growth. Birth grows into death - implying that they are two ends of the same thing. A seed that is sown grows into a plant, then flowers its ultimate fate being to fade away.
Do we ever believe that there is any opposition between the seed and the flower? The flower grows out of the seed itself. Growth is in the seed. Birth turns into death. That’s a fact. A reality. Nothing more. Nothing less. We want to live, we don’t want to die, but we don’t know that death is already a part of life. Once we decide we don’t want to die, it becomes a certainty and at that very moment, our lives will be filled with problems, difficulties, conflicts.
Amusingly man’s mind has split into parts, into compartments, fragments, and that’s the reason we have taken the totality of life as if it’s made of parts and interestingly, we have pitted each part against the other. Man is the same, yet painstakingly he has created divisions inside himself, while ensuring that these divisions are contrary to each other.
Interestingly we have expanded this in all spheres - we tell others. Don’t be angry, be forgiving without realizing that the difference between them is again of the degrees- as between cold and hot, between childhood and old age. We can say anger reduced to its lowest is forgiveness- there is no dichotomy between them. Yet the age old precepts, teach us to get rid of anger, adopt forgiveness. Such a thing can only result in splitting a man into fragments thereby putting him into trouble.
If birth and death were separate entities, birth would move along its own course and death its own- nowhere would they meet- as parallel lines. Yet that’s not the case. Birth and death are entwined- they are ends of a continuum- are inseparable. In life everything is integrated- the apparent diversity is like the notes of a great symphony. If you cut anything out, you create divisions, confusions. It’s like a teacher writing on a black board with white chalk. Aim is to make the letters stand out for easy readability. White manifests because of black ground; black is in fact causing the white to stand out.
Remember: someone who becomes inimical to any one side, causes the other side to become dull, faded. One who is against showing anger, his forgiveness will be impotent. The strength of forgiveness lies in anger; only one who can be angry has the power to forgive. The more fierce the anger, greater will be his magnanimity of forgiveness. In the absence of anger, forgiveness will appear totally lacklustre, lifeless, dead.
Anger is not shouting, screaming, jumping like a jack ass, running the other down, annihilating others, destroying others, it means puting your point across fairly, politely, deftly, totally, completely. One needs to do what ought to be done, not what he wants. Black is black, white is white- integrity is the watch word - the driver. No fear. No confusions. No comparisons. It’s absolute. Nothing relative.
For most of us, anger means losing control, raising octaves, using statements that we repent later, it’s not anger, its reactions - the reactions have taken charge of us. Same way existence has put the bricks of birth and death together, facing each other, and through both a gateway to life is created. One cannot accept the brick of life while discarding the brick of death. Interestingly if you don’t accept death, you will die that very moment, because then all bricks that are left are alike. Bricks need opposing.
This sage would like to create his world with the bricks of God. Can you imagine the consequences if by mistake, all worldly people were to adopt this and be monks. From that very day things wouldn’t move an inch, from that day the whole world would be in ruins.
No one can experience the whole truth of life, without understanding the relevance of death. And a person, who in his opposition, insists on believing both life and death as two separate entities, has not attained enough awareness. The great mystery of this universe is that one can present an equal number of arguments in support or opposing bricks used in its creation. And the dispute can never end cause both bricks are used equally. It’s one against the other, its one joined with the other.
And life is so vast that only a select few evolve enough to see that the whole doorway is made of opposing bricks. The rest merely see the bricks that fall within the range of their view. Their statements are coming from a dichotomized view of life.
Amusingly we have created such dichotomies at all levels of our lives. And a belief in either of the two parts can only provide a convincing supporting argument. Arguing solves nothing. Life needs to be investigated, known in totality.
Death according to Masters is not the opposite of life. For them death is the gateway to know life, recognize life, Whether they call it an art of dying or the art of living - both mean the same. It depends on how you and I view it. They exalted us to learn the art of living, because unless we learn the art of living, we won’t know how to die.
Thus desist inviting only life, invite death too. Say 'Come, be my guest too. We stay together’. The day life agrees to live with death it’s transformed into life supreme. The day one welcomes death, gives it a passionate hug, embraces it, the matter is over- that day the sting of death departs. The sting lies in our running away from death, in our being afraid of it. When a person comes forward and embraces death, death loses, it’s conquered, because the man who has embraced death is now immortal. Now death can’t do anything to him. What can death do when the man himself is ready to disappear?
Death seeks only those who run away from it. And there are those who seek death, but it keeps eluding them. They search endlessly but can’t find death. What kind of a person would I be - one who runs away, escapes, or one who embraces it, welcomes it, dances with it, rejoices with it? A person eluding death will continue to be defeated; his entire life be long story of defeat. One who embraces death will instantly triumph over it; defeat will no longer exist in his life. Then his life becomes a triumphant journey.
It’s like the one who has learnt the art of living in darkness- the moment one accepts the totality of darkness, darkness turns into light for him. And the man who has accepted darkness itself, wholeheartedly, finds to his astonishment, amazement, that darkens has become light. And one, who greets pain with open arms, finds that there is no pain at all - only happiness remains for him.
One who accepts his state of agitation and agrees to live with it, the doors of peace and tranquillity are thrown open. Seems contradictory. Remember, however, that one who says he wants to attain peace can never be peaceful, because to say 'I want to attain peace,’ is in fact, looking for disturbance. Man is restless as he is, and yet there are some who create a new relentlessness by saying 'We want to be peaceful’.
Remember: There is only one way to attain peace; be at peace with restlessness. Same way learn the art of dying. Why run away from death. Accept it. Welcome it. Rejuvenation is not the key for attaining victory on death. No matter how much you go through a process of rejuvenation, you still will have to die. The body is sure to die. Rejuvenation only extends life - yet extended life has no meaning. The meaning of life comes with living. An individual can live totally in one moment- more totally than another man who has been through an infinite number of lives. It’s a matter of living and only a man who has no fear of death can live- else how can he live. The fear of death keeps him trembling all through - he never stands still, keeps running all the time.
Biggest secret of life is to learn how to die, how to accept death. Let the past die every day. Let us die every day.
A 72 year old man still cherishes his happy childhood moments and also the pains. His childhood is not dead yet, he still carries the desire to return to his childhood. We never gather the courage to die, we never let anything die. Consequently all things pile up. We don’t let the dead be dead; instead we amass it like a heavy load. And then it becomes impossible to live under its weight, so one of the keys to the art of dying is; let the dead be dead.
This folks, is my limited understanding of Death. Celebration till eternity. A fulfilment. Celestial Dancing. A Sikh Perspective
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2015, All