Monday, 15 May 2017

How to Die Like a Seeker

You will find tons of literature and advise on how to live, but very little information is available on the topic of dying or how to conduct one's own death. As you know, we do not have a choice about whether or not to die, we can only decide about how to act or be when the time of the death is near. So this article is a discussion on how to arrange situations and how to ready yourself for this important event. Its obviously not about how to kill yourself, just in case you thought so.

How to avoid death?

Death is certain. It will happen anytime, any day and for any reason. We have no control over when it can happen, or how it can happen, all we know is that it will happen. However, we can do our best to lower the chances of an unexpected death, especially if you are young and are not yet prepared for it.

From the point of view of a non-seeker, his whole life is a struggle against death, life is a matter of survival. When survival is ensured, what they do is - more survival, more of everything - more food, more land, more houses, more mates, more social status or power, and so on. Obviously, this does not evade death, and usually their death is a consequence of their lifestyle. Too much of anything means a risk, a bad lifestyle full of struggle and stress, unhealthy foods and drinks, too many partners, too many enemies, too much travel etc, may lead to a premature and painful death, as we witness often. For a seeker, survival is a piece of cake, because he doesn't need to do an excess of it, just minimal or a comfortable amount. The rest of the time is devoted to seeking, not in running around the maze of survival. So it is very easy for a seeker to avoid a premature death when compared to an ordinary person.

Death belongs to the body, so the obvious job of a seeker is to take care of it. But it should not become an obsession. Remember, its going to turn to dirt, no matter how healthy it is, and it can happen any day. So moderation is recommended. Knowledge is favored over body. All one needs to do is - not feed it with junk, not put it in unnecessary danger, and avoid making enemies at all costs. Respect the limits of the body and keep it going naturally. Minor ills can be treated always. Major afflictions of the body can be treated when there is a good chance of prolonging a healthy life and when a cure is available. When the gains are too little compared to the hassle and pain, its not a good strategy to prolong the life, e.g. when struck with major illness.

Body has everything it needs to keep it going for many years without any maintenance at all. All you need to do is - do not break it. Junk food, substance abuse, too little or too much exercise, too little or too much pleasure, all these acts break it down. If you avoid this, the body continues happily. You will notice that the body needs just good food, clean air, water and surroundings. Its the mind/ego that needs to abuse the body to get pleasures out of it. Its the mind/ego that needs 20 mansions and 50 partners and wants to dominate people around and uses his body as a means. A seeker sees this tendency of the mind, and puts breaks on it. Rest is easy.

Living a peaceful and simple life, the chances of getting killed in a an accident or by enemies, thieves or military are minimal. You will be in trouble if you hoard a lot of shiny stuff, insult people right and left, or engage in warfare or power games. Seeking adventures can also land you in the lap of death prematurely. A seeker realizes that, and maintains a peaceful, calm and content life. The only thing that are important is knowledge, happiness and freedom. Obviously, these do not result from a bad lifestyle. By bad lifestyle I mean the actions that I described above, which are less conducive for a long and healthy life.


It starts with the realization that death is certain and can happen any day. Body is a structure, born out of change and hence is impermanent. It will disappear. Once you realize this, you will be detached from the body. That does not mean you will stop caring about it, only that you stop worrying about death.

Obviously, we don't usually know the time of death. We have done whatever was possible to achieve a good, happy and healthy life, as discussed above, now we need not worry. It may happen any day, and it will be ok. So in essence, we are always prepared for death, its only an event, an experience, its not the end. Those who think its the end, they are terrified of it. For a seeker that's not an issue.

A seeker prepares for death, like one prepares for a long journey, a journey from which one may not return again. Signals that the death is near are - obviously, the old age, or an incurable illness or some extreme disability. Sometimes, but not often, a flood, a drought, war or epidemic are signs that death can happen soon. Depending on the case, and knowing that death is near, a seeker takes proper actions.

If its the old age, which will be the case if the seeker has survived everything else, and which is an indicator of success, the seeker invites the old age instead of resisting it. An ordinary person resists and suffers old age because of unfulfilled desires and fears of getting old. A seeker is immune to it, and welcomes it. Old age is just another state of the body. Important things is - it won't last either. So a seeker who has grown old, gives up attachment to the body totally, and hands it over to the mother nature. The body is then worn out and gets recycled, in other words, death happens naturally and painlessly.

At what age one should relinquish the control of the body? That's kinda subjective question. I guess 60 years would be too early, and 90 years too late. But you can guess the right time by looking at the condition of the body. Can it still walk? can it still digest food? can it still see or hear or think etc? If yes, then you can continue for some more time. If it has broken down to a state that has become too painful and cumbersome, its time to relinquish control.

Inability to stand straight, or walk, inability to digest food and loss of teeth, loss of the sense of taste, sight etc, are a clear indicator that the body does not want to continue. If you resist at this point, it will cause immense suffering, as in the case of ordinary people. This would be a sign of attachment or ignorance. So a wise man lets it go. Sometimes the breakdown reaches mind, and there is inability to speak, think or act coherently. If you are still very aware, as a seeker would be, you would let go, before its too late.

Old age cannot be cured (presently), but it can be made less painful, so a seeker makes it comfortable as far as the body is concerned, but lets go anyway. If you try to prolong life in this stage, it will only prolong the old age and will probably worsen it.

If its an incurable disease, a seeker would let it take over and relinquish the body as soon as he can. If it is something minor, or can be cured, a seeker does that. If full health can be restored, no issues at all, but if a reasonably ok life which makes you not depend on anyone can be restored, it ok too. What is not ok is, a life full of pain, misery and dependency on others, which causes suffering to others also. Anyhow, such life would be very short and unproductive. So a seeker decides to keep an unhealthy body depending on its usefulness. The goal of a seeker is knowledge, the goal is not carrying around a broken body.

What if its a natural calamity or war etc? Well, the first reaction of anyone, including a seeker should be to escape it. And a seeker lets go only when that is not possible. Usually a seeker has no anchors or attachments to a place, family or community, so he has a ton of options and can escape very easily, when compared to an ordinary person, who is bound by attachments. But when odds of survival are close to zero, a seeker would surrender his body. Its much better and elegant way to die compared to a fight, a struggle and acts that involve killing fellow people, or suffering with a half broken body. The calamity is your ticket here.

An accident can leave your body incapable of normal functioning. A seeker would evaluate the condition. Can it be fixed? will it remain disabled, broken and dependent on others for the rest of the life? Is it affecting the process of seeking? etc. And if it is too damaged to continue, a seeker will let go of it.

Arranging social and personal situations

When you sense death, its recommended that you arrange situations so that you don't need to look back, feel remorse or leave unfinished business behind. So, for example, if you have relatives, dependents or a partner, its time to detach completely. If you have property, money or stuff, its time to dispose it off or hand it over to whomever you think is worthy of it. Arrange for dependents. Well why are there any dependents at all? A seeker has none usually, but in case you have any, never leave them on streets.

You will find that family members and friends will urge you to continue living, they will force feed you and what not. They will suspend you with all sorts of drips and a cocktail of medicines will be pushed into the body. This will prolong the suffering, pain and the not so well situation. Well, that's bad, why do you still have such relatives? Its ok, happens, you made a mistake, you did not detach yourself or distance yourself from social situations. To avoid this state of affairs, its best to move to a place where friends and relatives cannot trouble you, as soon as you sense the death knocking. E.g. an ashram or monastery. Not any kind of it, one where people understand what death is, and will make it easier for you, instead of ruining it.

If you have hoards of money or property, by luck or mistake, now is the time to get rid of it. Donate it away, to worthy people or causes. Clean up everything in advance because no one will be left to do it after death. If you have unfinished business, finish it now, or drop the plans. You want to leave without a to-do list. Best to travel light.

Do not start printing invitation letters to all, inviting them on the occasion of your death. It is a personal affair, even you are not needed there. Its not wise to advertise that you are going to die and are preparing for it. It will attract unwanted attention, and remember, there are people who, when they come to know of it, can try to ruin it for you by trying to keep you alive by hook or crook. Its their "love and compassion" that they want you to drag your body along forever, but from your point of view, its just deep ignorance. By keeping your affairs private and silent, you ensure that nothing goes wrong at the time of death, and it happens just as you planned.

Why take so much trouble?

Some may argue that treating death so nicely and giving it so much importance is unnecessary. Death is only an illusion. So how does it matter if it happens in a certain way? And why do I think that I have so much control and can arrange stuff down to the last detail?

Remember, that it can all happen in next second, so no, I'm not under the delusion of total control. All we can do is be ready for it. Death is not the end, its a beginning of a new experience. And if you have plans, if you have a path, you want your new experiences to be aligned to your goals. A seeker can make it easy by minor arrangements and by letting go rather than sticking around in a bad situation, just waiting for a painful death. Not only that, your progress can be hindered if you leave things behind that can become hurdles in your path. The last line is the essence of it, nothing more needs to be said.

If you are a seeker, control over situations and actions is not your main concern, your path is your main concern. So everything you do in regard to your death is to make you onward journey easy and fast, its a natural happening, a letting go in an elegant fashion.

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