From the book ‘Living with the Himalayan Masters’ By Swami Rama.
Slowly I came to realize that first we should learn to doubt our own doubts and to analyze the very doubts themselves.
Swamiji said, “I would not teach you through words.” I sat by him for three days, and there was no conversation at all. On the third day I decided that it was a waste of time and energy to stay with a man who was silent all the time. He was not teaching me anything, while I was thinking this, he said, “Boy, you were not sent to me to receive intellectual knowledge such as you can find in books. You have come here to experience something. I am going to leave my body day after tomorrow.”
I could not understand why someone would choose voluntarily to leave his body. I said, “Sir that will be suicide. It is not good for a sage like you to commit suicide.”
He said, “I am not committing suicide. When you remove an old bookcover and replace it with another, you do not destroy the book; when you change your pillow case, you do not destroy your pillow.”
I said, “He says I am only seeing his body, that I should see more. But what is that?”
My brother disciple replied, “Calm down. There are many things you still must learn. Let us keep our minds open so that we may come to understand. There are many mysteries in life.”
Finally Swamiji spoke up. “Actually I am not doing anything. When it is time for us to leave the body we know it. We shouldn’t stand in the way of nature. Death helps nature. We should not be afraid of death, because nothing affects us. Do you understand?”
He said, “Try to understand what death is; don’t be afraid of it. We are afraid of many things, and that is not the way to live. Death does not annihilate you, it only separates you from a body.”
He continued, “Death is a habit of the body. No one can live in this same body forever. It is subject to change, death, and decay. You have to understand this. Very few people know the technique of gaining freedom from their clinging to life. That technique is called yoga. It is not yoga that is popular in the modern world, but is the highest stage of meditation. Once you know the right technique of meditation you have command over other functions of your body, mind and soul. It is through prana and breath that a relationship is established between mind and body. When the breath ceases functioning, the link breaks, and that separation is called death. But you still exist.”
I asked, “How does one feel existing without a body?”
He replied, “How do you feel when you go without a shirt? It’s nothing.”
(From three to six in the morning is considered the best time for meditation, so we would go to bed between eight and ten and get up at three.)
The Swami said, “Boy, for a genuine teacher, nothing like death really happens. A teacher can guide his students even after his death.”
One swami said, “The physical universe is only one aspect of existence. We have the ability to know other aspects, but we don’t make sincere efforts to realize this ability. Our minds remain focused on the physical aspect only. Man is suffering because he does not know the whole.”
When I compared the materialistic world with the lifestyle of the sages I find the former concrete, emphasizing that which can be seen, touched, and grasped. But the lifestyle and atmosphere in which the sages live, though non-materialistic, is more realistic as far as the object of life is concerned. The world of means also has some value in life, but without awareness of the absolute Reality everything is in vain. Ordinary men regard certain aspects of life as mysterious and mystical, but such mysteries are easily solved when the veil of ignorance is removed. The technique of dying is not known to the modern scientists, but in yoga science such techniques are described and imparted to those who are prepared to practice them. The mystery of death and birth are revealed to a fortunate few.
The known part of life is a line which is stretched between these two points, birth and death. The vast portion of one’s existence remains unknown and invisible beyond these two known points. One who understands the unknown part of life knows that this life span is like a comma in a vast sentence which has no period. In the ancient yoga scriptures it is said that there is a definite way of leaving the body. Eleven gates are described through which the pranas or subtle energy can exit. The yogi learns to leave through the gate called Brahmarandhra, located at the fontanelle, the crown of the head. It is said that he who travels through this gate remains conscious and knows about life hereafter exactly as he knows life here.