We Do Not Die Alone
A nurse at a Medical Centre in 2001 was doing her ward rounds. A dying patient asked her, “Will you stay with me?” She said she would after checking on the other patients. When she returned after checking on six other patients, she found the patient dead. Overcome with guilt and frustration, the nurse started the first Noda (No One Dies Alone) program in the United States, with hospital employees volunteering their time to be with dying patients. It is now a national movement in the United States and in countries such as Japan and Singapore.
The Noda program is a laudable initiative. Humans should be a source of strength and support to one another. But what can we do for ourselves so that we do not experience fear and loneliness at the time of our own death?
At numerous question-and-answer sessions, a common question is whether the Master appeared for loved ones who have passed away, and in some cases the question mentions that the departed was not a satsangi or had not done much meditation. The Master reassures us that the Lord is there for everyone; it depends on us whether we realize it.
The book Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, contains several responses by Maharaj Charan Singh Ji to questions about facing death. He explains that it is not guaranteed that the Master always comes, but the soul is always taken care of. If you have already progressed sufficiently within, and you are not much attached to anybody in this creation, the presumption is that the Master will come. But if you are pulled too much towards the creation or worldly faces, the Master may or may not appear, because your mind at the time of death runs to your attachments. He further assures that the Shabd, or divine sound current, never forsakes the disciple. Once we are in touch with the Shabd within, no matter how little progress we may have made in our meditation, the Shabd never leaves us. Even if we have to come back to this creation as a human, even then the Shabd is always there with us and will lead us to a true Master. And again, Shabd will pull the soul back to the level of the Father. In fact, the Master explains that if you are in the habit of attending to meditation, then even if you are in a coma, you will be in touch with that sound.
Whatever the state of mind
That a man may focus upon
At the end, when he leaves his body,
To that state of mind he will go.
So the saints assure us that the soul is always taken care of and the Shabd, or divine sound current, never leaves us. Nevertheless, our realization of being taken care of at the time of death is actually a result of our own preparation for death during our lifetime. In the book Living Meditation, the author reminds us that during this very life, we must attend to daily meditation. Then and only then will we be able to take refuge at the eye centre at the time of death and peacefully and willingly accept what is happening to us. Meditation is the single most practical thing we can do to prepare ourselves for what we will experience when we leave the physical world at the time of death. For those who learn to die through the practice of meditation, death is not terrifying. Such disciples are receptive to the Master and remain conscious and confident during the experience, accepting it peacefully and without anxiety, regrets or fear.
We are reminded that this guarantee is not conditional upon simply being initiated but on practising our meditation diligently to experience that phenomenon before our time of death. If we are able to make a habit of keeping our attention in the remembrance of our Master in all situations, then, when death comes, our attention will only be on our Master. Experiencing this assurance before death is the greatest consolation and opportunity that we could be offered, but we have to go within to be convinced of it. Maharaj Sawan Singh tells us:
If we think, we find that at death no one goes with us – even the body has to be left behind. Only the Master and sound current go with us and therefore they are our only relatives. The Master is within you and is looking after you. Go in and you will be convinced of it.
In the book Concepts and Illusions, the author reminds us that to dispel their fear, children turn on the light. To dispel the fear of death, we can turn to the light within. As Christ said: “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”
There is a parable of a Japanese samurai warrior and his wife who were crossing over to an island on a small boat. Suddenly a fierce storm rocked their little boat, and they were in danger of drowning. The wife was terrified. She started trembling and crying, pleading with her husband to save them. He just sat there motionless.
Nervously, she called out to him, “Are you just going to let us drown? Won’t you do something?” The samurai silently pulled his sword from its sheath and held it menacingly against her throat. Seeing this, she started laughing. “Why are you laughing?” he asked. “This sword is razor-sharp. Just one movement and your throat will be slit.” To which she confidently replied, “The sword might be dangerous, but it is in your hands, and that is enough for me. I trust you completely, that’s why I’m not afraid.”
The samurai put the sword back in its sheath saying, “Here the sword (the storm) is in my Master’s hands, that’s why I’m not afraid.” His faith did not waver. This shows us that if we have faith that the Master is with us in life as in death, we need not fear anything.
Keeping our attention in the eye focus at all times will prove invaluable at the time of death, but also while we are alive. Such is the power of meditation – for living, for dying, and for taking us on a journey beyond body and mind. Our meditation helps us realize that we never live alone nor die alone. We just have to let go and die daily to experience divine companionship in both life and death.
A disciple asked his Master: “Isn’t the end-point of man’s journey his union with God?” The Master replied, “The end-point of man’s journey is not union with God because there has never been a separation. All that is needed is the flash of insight that makes one see it.”
Your breath is like a drumbeat,
constantly proclaiming the departure
of the caravan of life.
Radha Soami has docked his ship -
come on board and cross the ocean free of charge.
Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry