All of us are certain to die some day. Be he a king or pauper, death is inevitable. It is a leveller. Yet the thought that we too will meet the end one day occurs rarely in our mind. We are afraid of death and the unknown world beyond. We consider it negative, depressing and an unwelcome subject.
We refuse to think about it and instead search for happiness in material possessions. We get mired in the mundane things to fulfill our desires and gratification of senses. We cling to our loved ones and realize pet ambitions in life. Our valuable life is spent in material pursuits that hardly help us to prepare for the life beyond.
In our busy chase after wealth and fame, there is not much place for others unrelated to us. Unaware that death can be on our doorstep anytime; most of us indulge ourselves in pleasurable pursuits commit wrongs, compromise our conscience and neglect the needy. We lead a pedestrian life without purpose with nothing noble to speak about us after we are gone. Let us leave aside the spiritual aim of life as the liberation from the cycle of birth and death or getting the grace of god. We must answer the question whether our life is intended to be a purely for self gratification or to be lived at least in part for the service of others following a path of right conduct, love and kindness.
I read a story as narrated by Asit M Kaushik in one of his articles. It is a story of “a woman who took her debauched son to meet Buddha. On seeing the youth, Buddha told him that he had just one more day to live. The youngster was shocked, but knew there was little that he could do about Buddha’s prediction. Having realized that time was short, he clung to his mother’s sari, and broke down. He wanted to meet all his family members, friends, neighbours before the end came. With six hours left for his death, he found himself lying on a cot, distraught and disillusioned.
When just three hours were left, Buddha paid him a visit. The youth did not wish to speak to Buddha, but the latter smiled at him and inquired if in the last 24 hours, he had lied or cheated. The youth replied in the negative. Buddha then asked him if he had stolen from or hurt anybody. The youth got irritated and replied how he could possibly think of doing such things when all he was thinking of was death.
Buddha gently patted his head and said “Son, I don’t know who has to die and who has to live, but understanding the ultimate truth can be very enlightening. While you became aware of death only now in the last 24 hours, I have been aware of it for the last 24 years.”
We should be aware of the impermanence of our life and its value to devote each day to right path enriching not only our life but others too to enable us face death calmly without fear when it comes.