The one thing that is at once most predictable and unpredictable about life is death. Yet man lives forgetting death as if he were immortal. Between these two a visible manifestation of death and an innate sense of immortality hangs the balance of life a paradox which we do not easily understand.
What if death is not an end but a passage to another life? What if rebirth is not about retribution but is a form of evolution? What if life and deal are not opposites but work towards a common goal? There must be a larger picture a missing piece of the puzzle to complete the story and make our understanding whole. How should we deal with trauma and loss suffering and pain and other ethical and existential issues?
Death Dying and Beyond is an attempt to find answers to these many other related issues theoretically and practically supported by anecdotes and experiences arising from brushes with death.
Even if physical science or occult science were to discover the necessary conditions or means for an indefinite survival of the body still if the body could not adapt itself so as to become a fit instrument of expressions for inner growth the soul would find some way to abandon it and pass on to a new incarnation. The material of physical causes of death are not its sole or true cause its true innermost reason is the spiritual necessity for the evolution of a new being.
Alok Pandey a seeker on the path of integral Yoga is a psychiatrist by profession and a philosopher by temperament. On a spiritual journey Alok Pandey discovered that neither prevalent scientific and current intellectual notions nor traditional religious and conventional spiritual beliefs could satisfy his quest to resolve deep existential issues regarding life and death.
It is only when he discovered Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that his question about the issues of Karma and rebirth suffering and pain and most of all the goal of the human journey were abundantly answered and the thirst of his soul was more than quenched by the vast vision of Sri Aurobindo’s works and revelations.
Alok Pandey is presently associated with the Sri Aurobindo international institute of Integral Health and Research Pondicherry. The institution is dedicated to the work and vision of Sri Aurobindo in the field of health.
Death in one of its conceptions leads us from mansion to mansion in our journey form this mortal world of darkness to the doorsteps of the sphere of deathless light. But it leads us blindfolded so to say and little do we remember of the worlds beyond that are hidden to our mist laden eyes. Little do we remember of the journey through the night of death when we return to the grey light of our earthly days again. Our birth in the conception of a mystic poet is a sleep and a forgetting. And rightly so since we remember not the physical womb that delivers us to see the light of our mortal days and feel the struggle of our mortal life. Nor do we remember our spiritual womb the world mother’s heart and lap from which we leaped forth as a soul fo love and light to enter this zone of obscurity and unconsciousness. Not only the wherefore but we have forgotten also the why of our coming the purpose of our earthly existence. Is it all a meaningless accident a chance governing our fare? Or is accident only a term that covers our purblind Ignorance chance only the lid that conceals a deeper plot and covers the future’s face? We also do not remember what pitiless necessity took the ominous shape of death and pain. Nor do we understand what coerced the divine soul to the adventure of time and space if the only purpose of all this tragicomic drama of life is to return to that from which it came? What helplessness drove the soul out from its paradise to suffer this fall into obscurity and Ignorance this short or long interlude with sorrow and tears? Or is the soul helpless against some dark and ominous power that has the right to mar God’s work and cancel his force! And if that is so then who gave it this power and this right to drive the divine soul on the path of perdition and sin? What force coerced the immortal soul to forfeit its immortality and laid upon it the yoke of death? We do not see nor remember.
The material scientist shut in his own senses cannot help us. He sees no better for he too shares the malady called man and the forgetfulness that follows. He only strengthens the prison built by our senses by reinforcing its walks by the cement of a limited observation. The philosopher and the logician equally fail us by replacing realization with imagination. The theologian seems to suddenly and magically transport us to a promised unseen land whose very ground we are unsure of and which lies disconnected with all that it yearns for with that queer and the earth paradoxical label of illusion. According to him there is no pain there is no suffering there no sorrow nor grief nor death since there is in fact no you and I. there is only the one who does not die even as it is not born. The birth you experience is all illusion the pain and struggle is an illusion and the death and destruction is a greater illusion. For there is no birth and no death no being and no becoming there is in fact nothing and only nothing and nothing cannot die for it never was nor ever will be! There is very little to choose between the eternal no of the materialist his not to all that is beyond the ken of our senses and all the exceeds or transcends our human experience and the eternal no of the spiritualist his no to all that is of this world and share its agony and pain.
Yet we instinctively feel a deeper to exceed ourselves to dally with death and play ball with time and circumstances. It calls us through unnumbered bodies and births and invites us to solve the mystery of the ridding Sphinx. It laughs in the face of terror and fear through the eyes of a child. It smiles at grief and pain through the lips of a hero laying down his life for the triumph of truth. It fills us with peace and joy in the midst of destructions dance through a mind and heart identified with a deeper and higher light. It leaps up from within as sympathy partaking of others grief and the strength to succor and to solace. This memory and this deeper vision hid in our own depths surface in the silence and the words of a seer and sage.
Birth and death are the two great original mysteries the birth of this vast and complex universe in a seeming void the birth of life and livings beings in and out of a seemingly mechanical universe the birth of thinking half conscious creature called man from a seemingly unconscious unthinking life.
So is death a mystery the apparently dark void into which everything collapse the great and the small the high and mighty as well as the lowly and weak the virtuous and the vicious the pious and the wicked the angles and demigods as much as the devils and the titans themselves Death swallows all.
The great philosopher poet was casually asked by one who gave him shelter for the night who are you? Where do you come from? Where are you going? These seemingly insignificant questions whose answers we often take for granted can change our life radically. The merely living can change into a thinker into a philosopher poet the poet into a visionary mystic the mystic into one utterly identified in an inner ineffable union with god.
And as we move up through this leader of self transcendence our self view. And as our answer a this fundamental question who are we changes so do our answers to the other two fundamental question where do we come form and where do we go.
The question that death asks of us upon the highway of life is symbolized in the story of the Sphinx – who are you? If our answer is correct it lets us pass. If our answer is correct it lest us pass. If not we are slain by death. Therefore the body that knows not its immortality dies. Whereas the soul that knows itself escapes. This truth applies as much to individuals as to entire civilizations.< P>
Death forces us to raise this question and thereby change. Therefore death to one point of view is a passage or perhaps even a precursor to this change. To another eye that sees yet sees not because it sees only one half of the truth or rather sees the apparent outward fact as the sole truth death is the dark womb to which all returns. Day from the point of view of earth is only a brief or long interregnum compressed between two dark eternities of night earth itself a small dot amidst and appallingly immense and largely empty space.
But the limits of our sight are not the limits of light. Light is hid in the darkest comers of the universe. Light is trapped in the dumb inertia of matter and stone light climbs up in the plant and the trees leaps to dynamic movements in animals aspires through conscious thought in man. Night is only a concealment of light or a depravity of our sight. Light blazing beyond our horizons is the birthplace of that which we truly are the light Supreme the secret home which we climb through the many tiered stairway of life and death and rebirth.
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