There’s a maahaul of death and departure around. It’s as if one is getting used to these deaths so much that it doesn’t touch us anymore. We read about a school bus hit by a train and kids dying, or a car plunging down a ravine and wiping out a family, or air-strikes in Gaza or Syria which kill hundreds of civilians. Every day or the other an important person departs and the news channels give a full coverage for a couple of days. Death is another news item, it doesn’t move me, it doesn’t shake you, doesn’t prompt anyone of us to ask, ‘What’s this? This thing called death. Where does it take people?'
But it shakes us when Death strikes nearby, takes away someone close. Or threatens to whisk away someone we’ve been connected to for quite a while. There’s fear, a deep sense of loss, terrible sorrow. Reminds us of our own mortality. Maybe touches a few people at great depths and stirs in them a desire to know Death or even find ways to transcend it.
The first time I read somewhere that only 5 % of human population on this Earth is expected to make it to the next decade or so, I felt nothing. Imagine 6 and a half billion people dying! Forget whether you believe it or not, but the enormity of such a great departure? Or when I was told that it’s possible that only 65% of us will see 2013!
It does not shake me because I assume that I belong to that surviving 65%. Or that precious 5%. And all my friends, relatives, colleagues, milk maid, paperboy, water supplier and the shop-keeper across the street will also survive these mad figures. It’s this assumption that ‘Death happens elsewhere’ that numbs me and makes me insensitive.
Between these two extreme reactions to death—insensitive and fearful—there must be a middle ground. It’s one of total acceptance and understanding—not just in theory but in your heart. Maybe it comes when one is on the threshold of death and is able to view things impassionedly. Or it might arrive when one attains enlightenment. Or in some other state of mind I’m not yet aware of.
There’s only one person I know who speaks of transcending death, believes passionately in physical Immortality and has devised and shared the spiritual practices which makes one Immortal.
For me, however, Death is still a concept which swings me between the two extremes—indifference or one of sorrow and loss. And I’m too much at the grosser level, unable to stand at a distance, at a height, and view things from a broad perspective. If a stranger departs, I’ll not be moved. If someone close departs, I’ll shake and shiver and brood. And I’ll always be blissfully unaware of the fact that death is something that’ll happen to me too.
Transcending this humanness is difficult but I wish I could do it. I wish I were Enlightened, now and here. But not yet...not yet.