What is Death?
We have heard that our body consists of the five primary elements of metal, wood, water, fire, earth and soul. We are told that when we are dying, the soul will go out, depart from the physical body of the five elements. Further, the five physical elements will separate from each other, no longer combining together because when the soul is present, it acts like a magnet keeping the five elements together, just like the thread of a rosary joining all the beads together. If I remove this thread, the beads will fall to the ground. The same thing happens when we die.
But why is death such a painful event! First of all because we are unwilling to leave this world, our relatives, friends, husbands, wives, children, fathers and mothers, etc. Secondly, because we are frightened of not knowing where we will go after leaving this world. Thirdly, because we haven't prepared ourselves, we do not know what to do when we die. Otherwise, dying is a very happy moment with nothing to be afraid of.
Many people teach us many things in this world: our parents teach us how to eat, and how to walk. Teachers teach us how to read and write and many more things. Doctors and midwives teach future mothers how to give birth, for example, how to take care of themselves, and how to look after the fetus so that birth giving will be easier and not so painful. But no one teaches us what to do when we are dying. Nothing is mentioned. We can learn how to give birth, receive care when we become elderly with pensions and insurance. Doctors treat our sicknesses and teach us how to avoid or reduce the chance of being sick. But no one talks about death, and it is not good. Therefore, I will teach you tomorrow how to 'die.' (through initiation)
All the functions of the body will stop the moment the soul leaves the physical vehicle! Just think, we spend most of our time focusing on this body and little or no time on the Real Self which is our eternal Beloved. That is why we need to distinguish the true man from his shadow.
The world is impermanent. Even if we learn a great deal, it won't help much. Great scientists also have to die, the most famous genius must leave this world and everyone will do it empty-handed. That is why all religious scriptures emphasize that we should not be so attached to this world. Why! Because if we only think about this world, we will have to come back to it, and if we think about God, we will go to Heaven. All religions teach us this, but it isn't easy to think about God.
Prepare when death come
You see, we prepare ourselves well for the birth of a child but why not for our death, which is the most important thing? When we have a baby, many people come to comfort us, but when we die, no one can be with us although it is the moment that we experience the deepest loneliness and suffering. Death becomes a painful experience because we aren't prepared.
Our door has nine 'doors', such as our eyes, ears, nose, etc. We can use any of these doors to exit the body, but when we die we will transmigrate again in the lower realms. Take a house for example. If you are leaving in a hurry through a window you may end up with many contusions. You must instead use the front door. But we cannot leave if it isn't open. There is only one door from which we can go to the higher realms. It cannot be seen with our physical eyes. Only the great Masters can open it. Since we cannot open it ourselves, we should ask someone who already opened his own door and will show us how to open it. Then we practice every day opening and closing it, and the day we depart we will have no trouble leaving.
I will teach you during initiation how to die, and afterward you will have to practice every day. If not, you will forget because you are too attached, too used to this world. All your thoughts go to your husband, wife, to your work and your boss. Take a nap and see how they immediately come to disturb you and make you worry. Therefore, we should save every day two and a half hours to practice 'dying.' During initiation, the Master will escort you and instantly take you to higher regions, and you won't have time to think about what you left behind. What you will see during your ascension will depend on the level you will have reached when you died.
Our last moment's thought is very important. If all you think about is misery, you will go to hell. If all you think about is Master, happiness and bliss when you are with the Master, you will be in Nirvana in no time. So that's the secret.
Q&As Regarding to Life and Death
Q. If the purpose of living is to remember who we are, what is the purpose of dying?
M. The body was created to only last a certain period of time. Then when it is worn out we have to use another body more suitable for our learning.
Q. Is dying only for the body, or also for the soul?
M. No, the soul never dies. We just change clothes. After two days of wearing the same clothes, they get dirty, so we have to wash them. If they are too worn out, you throw them away and buy some new ones. So that is all. We just change our clothes.
Q. So we have consciousness and control even when we are at death?
M. Yes, but we cannot have controlling power unless we are enlightened and regain our greatness.
Q. Have you experienced death? Do you remember a death experience?
M. Well, I can every day! I die and I come back.
Q. Can I do that?
M. You can, and I will teach you how. I think that it was Saint Paul who said, "I die daily." When you are in Samadhi, you can sever the ties with this world for a few hours and then reconnect again. You come back because it isn't time to go. We must come back and finish our job again.
Q. Why do you want to die so many times?
M. I don't want to die. I just have to die in order to live.
Q. When we die, does our spirit stay in the atmosphere of this planet, or does it go to another world?
M. It depends on what you do this life. If you are virtuous, meaning giving to others, serving others as much as you can by your loving kindness, or by your property, or by your service of labor, then when you die you go to heaven, small heaven not a big one. To go back to the greatest Heaven, the end, the highest Heaven, you must practice to know the presence of God, the light and the sound of God within you. If we are not virtuous and we are abusing other people and we are unkind or unloving, after we die we go to hell. If our behavior is like an animal's, we might even have to wear an animal's clothes next time; meaning we have to experience the life of an animal in order to know how to be kind, how to behave as a human being.
Q. How do near-death experiences fit into your philosophy?
M. A near-death experience is truly also a death experience except that the so-called silver cord which connects our soul to our so-called physical instrument is not yet broken. So they truly have a death experience. Those who are virtuous and have a good conscience in life will see bright light and many beautiful dimensions, it is a true story. It is the same when you meditate, the only difference is that you can prolong this experience or have it again at will and extend it to a higher and higher dimension. So meditation is also an experience of death. Therefore Saint Paul said "I die daily." You leave the body and go to a higher beauty, and you can come back at will with some practice, not very long. Some people get it right at initiation and continue ever after.
Q. What lies beyond the cycle of karma and death?
M. It is the greatest wisdom and the highest bliss that we can ever know. This is our real Kingdom, because beyond the law of"sow and reap, there is the Law of Love. Only love and bliss. And if we break through the cycle of karma then we go to that dimension where there is no life, no death, no karma, only happiness, only satisfaction. But by only talking to you like this, I feel that we are degrading it somewhat, because the human language is easily misleading and very limited. Even the ordinary love between a man and a woman, how can you describe that?
Q. What happens to a person that commits suicide! What is the difference with those who die naturally?
M. Yes! There is a big difference. Most people who commit suicide are in a state of very low consciousness and great depression. The pressure of the world is too much for them. When we die in this kind of state of consciousness, we remain like this for a long time. This is not good for our soul. When you are so depressed, you want to get rid of the depression, but because of killing yourself, you stay depressed for a long time.
Q. Master, do You believe that the people who go to the other side, the people who die, can give messages or cure through those who remain alive?
M. Yes, but very, very seldom. Because most of the mediums are not powerful enough. People in heaven don't want to be in touch with this filthy world, when they are in heaven they see our world as very filthy and unfit to come back to. And we couldn't reach them in heaven because we are ordinary persons. Now the people who went to hell couldn't reach us either, because they are bound. So, it's hard to get true messages. It happens, it happens just rarely, seldom reliable.
Q. Why would a child have to die when he is so pure?
M. Because he doesn't need to live anymore. Maybe he went to Heaven. It is even purer. Sometimes, we have some work to do. For example, I have to stay here only three or four days, because this is the time I need to finish my work here. So I come for four days. And if I need to come again I will come again. Some souls have little to do with this physical world, so they come for a while, and then they go. They have sometimes a little karma to take from their parents, and then they have to leave.
Q. How should one treat a dead body, cremate it or bury it?
M. It depends on the landscape. The dead have already another abode, so the best is to cremate the body and scatter it into the sea where it belongs.
Death of the Living Master
Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 4, 1993
(Originally in English)
Q: Master, You said that only a Living Master could lead disciples; so, my question is what will happen to Your disciples when You pass away?
M: I don't "pass away" because I was never "born." It is just my physical instrument that gets rotten sometimes, just like your car after twenty years. We are always connected with each other spiritually. We are not the body. You and I are not the body; therefore, after you leave the body, your body is still there but it doesn't function. So, you have to understand that basically, we are not the body. I just borrowed the body to connect you with the spiritual Power. Once we are connected, we'll never be apart, and even if my body passes away, you are connected. That's important.