Now Is the Time
Death is one of the biggest illusions and mysteries of creation and it deceives most of us. There is nine months’ notice before we are born, but there may not be even nine seconds’ notice before we die. We have all suffered the loss of family or friends at some point or other. We have all seen people being carried to cremation grounds or placed in caskets and buried in the earth. Yet we ignore the reality of death. We feel that death is for someone else and not for us. We may feel that we will die when we die, so what is the point of worrying about it now? We fail to realize that our human life is the most precious gift that the Lord can give us. The mystic Mira Bai, in her poem, “A Rare Boon” in the book Mira: The Divine Lover, explains to us the importance and significance of the human birth. She begins by saying:
This rare birth you may not get again.
Through past acts of merit and worth
You were granted the human birth.
From day to day in age you gain,
But with each moment life does wane.
We don’t know when death will come to take us. Moreover, we don’t know what will happen to us once we are dead. We must realize that now we are in a human body, but we can’t be certain that our next life will be that of a human being. We could be born as an animal, a plant or even an insect. While death is assured, another human birth is not. The Lord has shown mercy and blessed us with a human form. Now is the time to take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
The human form is not eternal; we have it for only a short period of time. With every passing moment, we are hurtling towards our death. Our transient life is like a soap bubble. After floating in the air for a second or two, the bubble bursts and there is nothing we can do to make the bubble last for another second. Mira says:
When death comes nothing will stay;
This precious chance will slip away.
When once a leaf has broken free,
It cannot then rejoin the tree.
Once we are dead, nothing can bring us back to life. We have been given this human birth to realize God and, if we are not putting in the efforts to achieve that goal, we are wasting our precious opportunity. Hence, if we are serious about God-realization, then we have to do something now. We cannot say, “I will do it when the kids are big enough to take care of themselves.” We cannot say, “I will do it after I have ensured a comfortable future for the family.” We cannot say, “I will do it after I retire.” If we are serious about the path, then this is the moment. Mira Bai continues:
The world’s ocean does roar and rage;
Vast and deep, it is hard to gauge.
Board the ship of Nam, cross the sea,
Reach the shore of bliss and be free.
The world is like an ocean. If we travel on a ship and cross the seas, we will see huge waves, face strong winds, and may experience violent storms. We will not be able to see the shore even with a telescope, nor will we be able to gauge the depth of the ocean. Similarly, there will never be an end to issues, situations, problems, and distractions in this world. Every day, every hour, nay, every moment is like a wave in the ocean of our lives. Some pass by calmly while others shake us more than a storm ever could. The only way out is to reach the shore of bliss and happiness by merging the soul back into the Lord. For this we have to board the ship of Nam. We have to merge into the Shabd. Mira continues:
The vast world in its fourfold frame
Is nothing but a chausar game.
Deftly play the pawn of your soul,
And you win the match, attain the goal.
But if deceitfully you load the dice,
With human birth you pay the price.
Mira compares this world to a board game (“chausar”) that has four sides. Children throw the dice and move their pawns around the four sides till they reach their home in the centre. Mira tells us to play the game of life well. We do this by never forgetting our goal of God-realization; everything else in our lives must become a means to help us achieve our objective. We should try to avoid those actions and thought patterns that will hold us back or hamper our progress.
Mira hints at our lifestyle and tells us that we pay a big price if we lack honesty and sincerity. We deceive ourselves; we deceive our friends, relatives, and fellow travellers. We even try to deceive the Master. Mira warns us that if we are not honest, our life will have been wasted. Due to our deceitful ways, we will find that we have lost the unique opportunity to achieve awareness during this human life.
There is a way out. Saints don’t just highlight our problems or faults; they also show us the way to overcome them. Indeed, they are ever ready to help us. Mira says:
Saints and sages, Masters kind,
Try to warn us, and remind
That life is but a brief sunshine;
Hence Mira longs for love divine.
Mira tells us to find a Master. Masters are ever present in this world; they offer guidance and help at all times. Like Mira, they tell us that life is short, just like sunshine. Between our birth and death there are millions of things that we must do. If we wait for spiritually conducive moments to start our meditation, then we will surely meet our death before encountering one. The only time to do meditation is now. The only desire we should have is to find the Lord and be absorbed in divine love.
We should always remember the popular sentiment, “Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not assured, only today is thine.” When we look at ourselves in a mirror we know that with each passing day we are getting older. It is time we realize that we are just a bubble about to burst. It is time we make an attempt to follow the path. It is time we remind ourselves that we have a Master who is waiting anxiously for us at the eye-centre. It is time we go in and see the Radiant Form. It is time we enjoy the divine peace and bliss that saints talk about. It is time that we attend to our meditation before there is no time left.