Face to Face with Death
Imagine that you are being swept away from the beach by a strong current in the sea. The irony is that you are close enough for people to see you, but you are too far away for them to hear your cry for help. Every minute a wave crashes over your head. You swim frantically, but you’re tiring, and unless you get help soon, you will drown.
This happened to me. Minutes went by with the waves relentlessly crashing over me. I never stopped shouting for help, but my voice could not be heard over the sound of the sea and no one even suspected that I was in distress. I have never felt so helpless and alone.
In my heart I knew that my Master was there for me. But how was I to know my destiny? How was I to know if I would live or die that day? My instinct to stay alive was strong, but as time passed I was getting exhausted. I never lost faith in my Master. But was I at peace with the Lord’s will? I don’t know, but I knew I was running out of time.
Then salvation came. In a nearby car park a young body boarder was about to leave the beach when suddenly he heard distant cries for help coming from over the sand dune. He happened to be a trained life saver and his instinct to help took charge. He ran to the beach, swam towards me, and soon delivered me, utterly exhausted, to safety.
A life-threatening situation makes one see life as a precious gift not to be squandered. One suddenly realizes what an advantage and privilege it is to be a disciple of a true living Master. The spiritual link between Master and disciple feels very real.
From my perspective there were two possible outcomes to this potentially fatal situation: being rescued or drowning. From a higher perspective, my destiny was already carved in stone – or as Baba Jaimal Singh so aptly put it in Spiritual Letters: “Whatever is to be done has already been done.”
At the time of initiation we make a commitment to daily meditation. We know little of the importance of this commitment at the time, but as time goes by our meditation gradually prepares us for our unavoidable death.
However, when I was face to face with death, was I prepared to die? My honest answer is NO! I was very scared. And I felt a strong pull towards my loved ones. I was not at all ready to leave them. I could not help thinking how distressed my husband would be if I drowned. I thought of my daughter, my elderly father who was dying from heart disease, and my mother who needed my support caring for him.
When we are put to the test like this we are faced with our strengths and weaknesses, and it dawns on us that we are not quite the person we thought we were. So a life-threatening situation can humble us and make us realize our insignificance and fragility. And the prospect of dying can make us truly appreciate the precious gift of a human birth.
At the same time, though, through our daily meditation we are preparing to die. Maharaj Charan Singh tells us in Die to Live that meditation is a daily rehearsal to face death.
That is the real purpose of meditation. Before you play your part on a stage, you rehearse your part so many times, just to be perfect.… Meditation is nothing but a preparation to die.