Close to Death

What would you do if you were told that you are to die in 3 years from now? Three years of life are all you have.

For some reason, I have often posed this question to myself. The answer is usually along the same lines.

I would set apart time to meditate. I practise meditation for about an hour a day now. If I had only three more years, I would dedicate time to retreats, spending some weeks in meditation every few months. This is basically to cultivate solitude and know myself better. The longings, the terrible fears, the sorrows, the passions, the desire to take care of someone, the sensations of the body – it would be an intimate encounter with these. Death makes one know oneself better, I think. If you know yourself better in any case, it is a good preparation for the final moments.

I would study two languages – Sanskrit and Arabic. Not because I love languages, but because these languages are doors to two spiritual traditions  – the ancient Indian (or what some people would call “Hindu”) and the Islamic. For some time now, it seems to me that many of us, but perhaps not all, have access to a spiritual tradition that has been handed down for generations, and has been lost, fully or to some measure, in the last few generations. This forms a kind of “cultural self” to which we have access, only if we were able to let go of our worries a little bit. To go beyond one’s individual self and get in contact with the wisdom of ages, as embodied in the texts of these languages, is another preparation for death. The individual self is going to die anyway. To start being interested in things beyond it is only natural in your final days.

Finally, I would go to Ladakh and live there for some time. Many of us have an idea of a place where one can be close to nature and far from civilisation. The closer the place is to how God originally made it, the closer it is to God Himself. The more walls, roofs, roads, cars, phones, and computers we have, the more our environment loses touch with its source – the sacred. There is a reason why Gandhi said, “Cities are diseases”. The more our outer world is out of touch with its source, the more our inner world is so. For me, Ladakh is the place that represents, the most among other places, intimacy with nature. Vast, barren lands with not a soul in sight, gigantic mountains enveloping them, immense, tranquil lakes, total silence.

Purposely, I am glossing over a hard issue. Death is not about giving yourself a final holiday before you meet it. It will bring sorrow, bodily pain, and more. But let’s keep that for another day.

This is what I would do. What would you?

~ by tdcatss on July 2, 2011.

7 Responses to “Close to Death”

  1. You have spent some time thinking about this, haven’t you? :) You and your great mind! Hmmm. . . .me? This may sound strange, but I’m not sure I would do much differently than I am now. Except try to see people more . .. those who I don’t get to see much. I’d want to bless as many as possible, do something for them, give them something, write them . . .touch them one last time before I left. :)
    Thanks for making me think . . .again!

  2. its nice that you wouldn’t like to do things differently in that situation. that means you are pretty satisfied with what you are doing day in and day out ! for me, i think there are lots of changes to make :-s

  3. I don’t know what I would do. Perhaps, I would start appreciating people, relationships, and this world more. Maybe I would learn to live in the moment …

  4. They are going to go in any case :)

  5. i wouldn’t say i am very satisfied, but i would still be going with the flow, i wouldn’t think of any major changes like you have mentioned, i will welcome the changes in ideology that it will bring and maybe i will also travel more but i am not sure what would i do, good that you have this surety it means you know what you really want to do.

  6. Nice question to pose, Kaif?

    I would most probably end up at Thiruvannamalai… living on Girivalam road and meditating in Virupaksha Cave… If the calling happens, from there, I may just wander on this pilgrimage to God knows where till we become one! :-)

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