Whatsoever is worth achieving in life can be achieved only during the lifetime. But many people go on waiting until after death. Many people think that how can truth, the divine, liberation be achieved while still being in the body, in life, in the world. However, what cannot be attained during life cannot be attained ever.
Life is an opportunity to achieve, whether you spend it in collecting pebbles or in attaining to the divine. Life is a completely neutral opportunity. Life does not tell you what to achieve. If you collect pebbles, accumulate worthless things, or waste your life in increasing and inflating your ego, life will not prevent you from doing so. Or you may dedicate your life to attaining the truth, the self and the ultimate depths of life; then too life will not object in your doing so.
Life is merely a neutral opportunity – you may use it the way you like. But many people have made arrangements to deceive themselves. They think, “Life is for worldly pleasures.” They have created such divisions: “Life is for bhoga, indulgence.” But then only death remains for yoga, union with the divine. But death is not an opportunity. Let this be understood properly. Death is an end of all opportunity.
What is the meaning of death? Its meaning is that now there is no more opportunity left. Life is an opportunity, death is the end of the opportunity. So nothing can be achieved through death, because for achieving anything there should be a span of opportunity.
But we have divided: we say life is for indulgence. But when life will be exhausted, then?… then yoga. We have created all these stories that you utter into the ears of the dying person at the time of death – when he will not even be able to hear. When living persons do not listen, how would a dead or dying person hear a gayatri mantra, or recite the name of the divine, or the chant “Rama, Rama”?
The person could not hear the gayatri mantra his whole life, and even if he heard he did not listen, and even if he heard he did not grasp…. That person at the time of death – when all the senses will be failing; when the eyes won’t see, the ears won’t hear, the hands won’t touch; when life is disappearing back into its source – will he be able to hear gayatri? No, he will not be able to hear.
But then why do people go on uttering such things into his ears? There is a secret in it. That dying person is unable to hear anything, but the living ones who are uttering it for him remain under the assurance that at the time of their death somebody will utter it for them – and the goal will be achieved. So they have invented stories of this sort.
These dishonest people have invented stories. They say, one person was dying and he had a son named Narayana, one of the names for god, and he shouted aloud “Narayana” to call him. Hearing this, the god Narayana, who is in heaven, was tricked. He thought that he was being remembered. The dying man was calling his son, perhaps to advise the son in his last moments as to how to do black-marketing or how to keep double accounts! But due to god Narayana’s misunderstanding the dying man went to heaven. He himself was surprised as to how he arrived there. But his utterance of the name of Narayana at the time of his death had managed the miracle. No, things cannot be managed so cheaply. And a Narayana, who can be so easily deceived, will also be only a bogus Narayana.
Deceptions don’t work in real life; it is another matter that you may console your mind with such ideas.
Death is the end of opportunity. Understand this meaning properly. Death is not yet another opportunity for doing something. Death is the end of all opportunities; you won’t be able to do anything. There simply is no way of doing anything in death. Doing means life, so whatsoever is to be done, it has to be done during life.
From Finger Pointing to the Moon, Chapter six
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