Everything that comes together must fall apart. This is a law that cannot be avoided. It is a source of suffering that permeates our whole existence. As long as we cling to things we will suffer from being separated from them. As long as we build up something we will suffer from its collapse. Throughout history, we have repeated this pattern of union and dissolution countless times and it has generated so much unneeded suffering. Everything we can grasp with our senses will die. Nothing is permanent. The more we search for permanence, the more we will be disappointed and perpetuate our suffering. This perpetual search for permanence in this life has its origin in the ignorance of our true self. It is only by dying to the now that we might find something permanent in our life. But what are we really searching for when we try to perpetuate things? What do we expect? Is it happiness we are searching for? Can we really find happiness “outside”? Isn’t this impermanent happiness we try to find outside but suffering in disguise? Did you ever find lasting happiness that did not turn to suffering in the phenomenal world called Samsara?
Please do not simply read this. Go into it deeply and try to find a source of everlasting happiness “outside”. If you find a girl and you fall in love you might think that you have found happiness. But does this happiness not fade after several years? It might perhaps not but you certainly know how much suffering the death of a beloved one is causing and how much pain a separation is causing. And this is definitively unavoidable.
Have you ever asked yourself the reason for searching happiness? If we search something it is always something that we know. It is something that we have lost. If I search for my wallet or my keys, I know what I am searching for. Have you ever searched for something that you didn’t know, before you have searched for it? How would such a thought come about? It is very important to inquire deeply into this question. You might want to become something that you have never been before. You might want to become famous and you have never been famous. You might want to be beautiful if you feel ugly. You might want to become rich. But the very core of these longings is a quest of happiness. In the ignorance of your true self you search for happiness “outside”. You think that fame, fortune, beauty or social position will bring you happiness. And when you have achieved all that you wanted to, you still feel unsatisfied and you might have a lot of psychiatric medication in your cupboard to balance out the fears of loosing what you think you have achieved until now. And so the search and the suffering continues for the rest of your life.
The funny thing about that is that we all search for something that we have already and that we always had. We are happiness and we have never been separated from happiness. It is by dying to the now, by loosing everything that we imagine to have or that we long to get that we will eventually find true happiness. For happiness, as our true nature is beyond what is graspable, it is beyond what is perceivable and it is beyond words. We are what we are searching for and we have ever been what we have ever searched for, hence we know what we are searching for because it happens every night in deep sleep and we sometimes perceive it briefly during the day when the mind is very calm and aware in the now, but we have to die to it to really fulfil our deepest wish. Life is not possible without death, in the same way happiness is not possible without abandoning all those worldly concerns and dying to the self, dying to the now… simply being… and you will know that you have never been separated from the whole.
I look deep into my heart,
to the core where wisdom arises.
Wisdom comes from the Unnamable
and unifies heaven and earth.
The Unnamable is always with you,
shining from the depths of your heart.
Her peace will keep you untroubled
even in the greatest pain.
When you find her present within you,
you find truth at every moment.
She will guard you from all wrongdoing;
She will guide your feet on her path.
She will temper your youth with patience;
She will crown your old age with fulfillment.
And dying, you will leave your body
as effortlessly as a sigh.
— Psalm 121 – Stephen Mitchell – A Book of Psalms: Selected and Adapted from the Hebrew
(found in the non-duality highlights)
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down
to meet and mingle with each other.
Then some one at my side says,
“There! She’s gone!”
Gone from my sight, that is all.
She is just as large in the mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side,
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of her destination.
Her diminished size is in me, and not in her.
And just at that moment, when some one
at my side says, “There! she’s gone!”
there are other eyes that are watching for her coming
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,
“There she comes!”
And that is—dying.—
— (attributed to) Henry Van Dyke – A Parable of Immortality
In memory of Anouk Sung Ja Henn † 22/07/2012.
What is age? Is it the number of years you have lived? That is part of age; you were born in such and such a year, and now you are fifteen, forty or sixty years old. Your body grows old and so does your mind when it is burdened with all the experiences, miseries and weariness of life; and such a mind can never discover what is truth. The mind can discover only when it is young, fresh, innocent; but innocence is not a matter of age. It is not only the child that is innocent -he may not be- but the mind that is capable of experiencing without accumulating the residue of experience. The mind must experience, that is inevitable. It must respond to everything -to the river, to the diseased animal, to the dead body being carried away to be burnt, to the poor villagers carrying their burdens along the road, to the tortures and miseries of life- otherwise it is already dead; but it must be capable of responding without being held by the experience. It is tradition, the accumulation of experience, the ashes of memory, that make the mind old. The mind that dies every day to the memories of yesterday, to all the joys and sorrows of the past such a mind is fresh, innocent, it has no age; and without that innocence, whether you are ten or sixty, you will not find God.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti – The Book of Life
Enquire: ‘Who am I?’ and you will find the answer. Look at a tree: from one seed arises a huge tree; from it comes numerous seeds, each one of which in its turn grows into a tree. No two fruits are alike. Yet it is one life that throbs in every particle of the tree. So, it is the same Atman everywhere.
All creation is that. There is beauty in the birds and in the animals. They too eat and drink like us, mate and multiply; but there is this difference: we can realize our true nature, the Atman. Having been born as human beings, we must not waste this opportunity. At least for a few seconds every day, we must enquire as to who we are. It is no use taking a return ticket over and over again. From birth to death, and death to birth is samsara. But really we have no birth and death. We must realize that.
— Sri Anandamayi Ma – Ananda Varta
Is this the end of all that we have been,
And all we did or dreamed, –
A name unremembered and a form undone, –
Is this the end?
A body rotting under a slab of stone
Or turned to ash in fire,
A mind dissolved, lost its forgotten thoughts, –
Is this the end?
Our little hours that were and are no more,
Our passions once so high
Being mocked by the still earth and calm sunshine, –
Is this the end?
Our yearnings for the human Godward climb
Passing to other hearts
Deceived, while smiles towards death and hell the world, –
Is this the end?
Fallen is the harp; shattered it lies and mute;
Is the unseen player dead?
Because the tree is felled where the bird sang,
Must the song too hush?
One in the mind who planned and willed and thought,
Worked to reshape earth’s fate,
One in the heart who loved and yearned and hoped,
Does he too end?
The Immortal in the mortal is his Name;
An artist Godhead here
Ever remoulds himself in diviner shapes,
Unwilling to cease
Till all is done for which the stars were made,
Till the heart discovers God
And the soul knows itself. And even then
There is no end.
— Sri Aurobindo – Is This the End?
Death wanders through our lives at will, sweet Death
Is busy with each intake of our breath.
Why do you fear her? Lo, her laughing face
All rosy with the light of jocund grace !
A kind and lovely maiden culling flowers
In a sweet garden fresh with vernal showers,
This is the thing you fear, young portress bright
Who opens to our souls the worlds of light.
Is it because the twisted stem must feel
Pain when the tenderest hands its glory steal?
Is it because the flowerless stalk droops dull
And ghastly now that was so beautiful ?
Or is it the opening portal’s horrid jar
That shakes you, feeble souls of courage bare?
Death is but changing of our robes to wait
In wedding garments at the Eternal’s gate.
— Sri Aurobindo – Collected Poems and Plays, vol 1 – p. 144
fascinating the idea of death
Too bad, though,
it just isn’t
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day
cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he
stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
— Khalil Gibran – On Death – The Prophet