Header Graphic
Dying in the Master's Company

By Peter Holleran

from Talks with Ramana Maharshi, p. 163-164:

"It must be remembered that Sri Bhagavan had been with his mother from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. until she passed away. He was all along holding her head with one hand, the other hand placed on her bosom. What does it signify? He said later, that there was a struggle between him and his mother, until her spirit reached the heart.

Evidently the soul passes through a series of subtle experiences, and Sri Bhagavan's touch generates a currrent which turns the soul back from its wandering into the Heart.

The samskaras, however, persist and a struggle is kept up between the spiritual force set up by his touch and the innate samskaras, until the latter are entirely destroyed and the soul is led into the heart to rest in eternal Peace, which is the same as Liberation.

Its entry into the Heart is signified by a peculiar sensation perceptible to the Mahatma - similar to the tinkling of a bell.

When Maharshi attended on Palaniswami on his deathbed, he took away his hand after the above signal. But Palaniswami's eyes opened immediately, signifying that the spirit had escaped through them, thereby indicating a higher rebirth, but not Liberation. Having once noticed it with Palaniswami, Maharshi continued touching his mother for a few minutes longer - even after the signal of the soul passing into the Heart - and thus ensured her Liberation. This was confirmed by the look of perfect peace and composure on her features."

(For more, see Ramana Maharshi's Mother Enlightenment)

from The Moth and the Flame, by Arran Stephens, p. 291-292 (Chapter 38):

"Mataji [Sant Kirpal Singh's wife] returned to her eternal abode on April 3, 1970. Her frail form had suffered from cancer for about four years. On this subject the Master afterwards remarked: "Many people who have experienced this sickness have suffered greatly and have screamed aloud with the agony that it causes, but with the grace of God, through having direct contact with Him within, Mataji was spared the pinching effects.."

Eventually Mataji was unable to get around anymore, and while the Master was on tour in the latter part of March, her condition worsened. On March 30 (1970) the Master asked her if she was ready to leave and she replied, "Yes, in three days." The Master thought for a moment and then said, "Well, three days, that means April 2nd - and I will be very busy that day (due to the commemoration of the death anniversary of Hazur Baba Sawan Singh). The 3rd would be better, in the early afternoon, say 1:30 p.m. I will be more free then."

At about 1:00 p.m. on the third it was noticed that Mataji's condition had become very serious. When told about Mataji, the Master said, "I know it." The Master went to Mataji and looking down at her very kindly, asked, "Are you prepared?" She looked up and said, "Yes." The Master said, "Are you sure your heart is absolutely clear - with no hatred for anyone?" She replied, "Yes, I have nothing against anyone in my heart." The Master asked, "Then why are you not smiling?" With this, her face..began to glow with joy. Ripples of laughter came forth and she looked radiant with happiness. Taking hold of the Master's hand she said, "Forgive me, if I have ever done anything to offend you." The Master smiled compassionately. She said, "Both forms are here - I am seeing you outside and inside." The Master said, "All right, now close your eyes and relax," and with these words he returned to his room. Within ten or fifteen minutes, Mataji had left."

Kirpal Singh afterwards remarked, "she is more alive now than ever."


   "If he accepts the decree of destiny quietly and obediently, if he is willing to pass, without rebellion and without fighting, out of this world when the ordained hour arrives, he achieves that peace of mind which the prophet Muhammed called "Islam"--a resignation to, and harmony with, God. It is as far as detachment from the ego can go without losing the ego itself." (1)

   While all may take solace from these words of Paul Brunton (PB), in the traditions it is said that the friendship of a saint or sage may grant great comfort, even liberation, to the fortunate soul at the time of death. In Sant Mat there are frequent references to the Master Power, or grace of the Godman, holding court over the power of Dharam Raj, the angel of death, regarding the fate of dying souls, whether initiated or not. I have heard numerous such stories from the life of Kirpal Singh as told by devotees. Ramana Maharshi said likewise in regards to the true sage:

   "The jnani can leave the body whenever he likes. When the time comes for the jnani to leave his body, Lord Yama [the Hindu god of death] comes and asks, standing at a distance, "Will you please come?" if the jnani says, "No, not now," Lord Yama will have to leave without him." (2)

   Besides generating a feeling of awe in one's heart and mind, these stories also offer food for thought regarding the place of such apparently divine siddhis or powers. In the case of either of these saints or sages many people experienced miraculous changes, effects, cures, etc., without the master's apparent awareness, yet it may be assumed not unrelated to his being or presence. On some occasions, however, an apparently active role was played by these great souls. I say apparently because from a non-dual perspective and using the language of Plotinus one can consider that the Universal or Absolute Soul or Self, undifferentiated as it is from the Individual Soul and apparent jiva or human personality, uses that purified agent as a means to produce such effects. In the case of Paramhansa Yogananda there were a number of instances when people had died and the saint revived them. Kriyananda recounts relates one such story, in Yogananda's words:

   "A real estate agent in Encinitas, hearing that I had healing power, came to me to request a healing for his wife, who had been ill for ninety days. I prayed, but God told me not to go to her bedside. Shortly thereafter, she died. Only then was I given guidance to go to her...About thirty people were present in the room when I arrived. Her husband was weeping and shaking her, almost out of his mind with grief. He wouldn't accept the fact that she was already dead. I motioned him away...Putting one hand on the dead woman's forehead, and the other one under her head, I began invoking the divine power. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes. Suddenly her whole body began to tremble like a motor. After some time, a deep calmness stole over her. her heartbeat and breathing returned. Slowly her eyes opened; they held a far-away expression, as though she had just returned from a long journey. She was completely healed." (3)

   In Maharshi's case, towards the end of his life while dying from cancer he remarked that he, as a jnani, lacked the will, or vikalpa, to do anything about it, nor did he care. His position throughout his 50 years among devotees, moreover, was generally of this nature, and therefore in contrast to the remark above, which claimed the jnani had power over Yama, the lord of death. He characteristically took the position that the jnani, or man of knowledge, was oblivious to the issue of birth and death, and was beyond possession of any kind of power attributable to an individual, "being in his true nature invisible even to God." Even though such incidents as the above-mentioned one in the case of Yogananda also occured due to Maharshi’s presence, on one such occasion where the son of a man who had asked for his help died, he said:

   “Even an incarnate God cannot raise all the dead. He has no individual will so he cannot decide to perform a miracle. If miracles happened in his ambience, he witnessed them; that was all.” (3a)

   [Note: this is an instance where speaking of the 'will' is certainly paradoxical, and Ramana, in our opinion, is being unnecessarily simplistic; for the accomplished Siddha or Master, one can not say he does nor does not use personal will to do such things, or that he merely witnesses all that happens. That so-called miracles do happen in his company that he is not aware of being involved with obviously happens, and has been reported frequently, but that he also may 'individually' accomplish them via divine siddhi is also heralded in the literature extensively and can not be denied].

   Zen master Bankei, in classic non-dual fashion, also belittled concern over one's physical death:

   "When it comes to the idea of being free in birth and death, people are apt to misunderstand. There are some who, beforehand, announce they're going to die in a certain number of days, while others go so far as to express their intention to die, say, next year, in such-and-such a month and on such-and-such a day. When the time arrives, some of them, even though they are not ill, die just as they said, while others put it off for another day, or a month, and then pass away. There are lots of people who consider this being free in birth and death. Not that I say this isn't so. So far as freedom goes, they're terribly free! But things of this sort are only a result of the strength of people's ascetic practices, and often they haven't opened the Eye of the Way. Even among ordinary people, you frequently find this. While they may know [the time of their] death, they haven't opened the Eye of the Way, and that's why I don't accept this kind of thing. The man of the Unborn transcends birth and death.

   Now, I'm sure you're all wondering just what it means to transcend birth and death. That which is unborn is imperishable; and since what doesn't perish doesn't die, it transcends birth and death. So, what I call a man who's free in birth and death is one who dies unconcerned with birth and death. What's more, the matter of birth and death is something that's with us all day long -- it doesn't mean only once in a lifetime when we confront the moment of death itself. A man who's free in birth and death is one who always remains unconcerned with birth and death, knowing that so long as we're allowed to live, we live; and when the time comes to die -- even if death comes right now -- we just die, [realizing] that when we die isn't of great importance. Such a person is also one who has conclusively realized the marvelously illuminating Unborn Buddha Mind. Talking and thinking about something like what hour of what day you're going to die is really narrow-minded, don't you think?"

   The Taoist sage Chuang Tzu said:

   “The true men of old knew nothing of the love of life or of the hatred of death.
   Entrance into life occasioned no joy; exit from it awakened no resistance.
   Composedly they came and went.
   They did not forget what their beginning had been, and they did not inquire
   into what their end would be.
   They accepted life and rejoiced in it; they forgot all fear of death and returned
   to their state before life.
   Thus there was in them what is called the want of any mind to resist the Tao,
   and attempts by means of the human to assist the Heavenly.
   Such were they who are called the true men.”

   Sri Nisargadatta goes so far as to radically state:

   "Whatever is getting transformed will not remain, any transformable state will not remain. If you have accomplished knowledge correctly, you will never know that you are dying..... The very tool by which you observe will itself disappear. After so called death where is the tool of observation? The very instrument or consciousness will not be there. (5)

   This would need to be qualified in the case of someone accustomed to "dying daily" in the manner the Sants describe, if Sri Nisargadatta is referring here to physical death. It might then perhaps be alternately stated as, "one who has accomplished knowledge correctly barely notices his death." I seriously doubt the saint or sage is prohibited by their accomplishment of jnana from being aware when they are dying. [for more on this see The Integrationalists and the Non-Dualists - 3]

   PB, nevertheless, in a fashion similar to Bankei, writes:

   "The wise man lives secretly in the even, sorrow-soothing knowledge of the Oneness, and remains undisturbed by the inevitable and incessant changes in life. From this lofty standpoint, the tenet of rebirth sinks to secondary place in the scale of importance. What does it matter whether one descends or not into the flesh if one always keeps resolute hold of the timeless Now? It can matter only to the little "I," to the ignorant victim of ephemeral hopes and ephemeral fears, not to the larger "I AM" which smiles down upon it." (6)

   The sants and the jnanis appear paradoxical at times, both taking the position of not doing anything to cure either themselves or another, and also being attributed with healings, postponing the time of death of various disciples, and even apparently re-enlivening certain souls. One such case took place in the presence of Yogi Bhajan, a disciple of whom had succumbed and whom the yogi could not help. The mere touch of Kirpal Singh brough the man back to life. One may rightly ask, what miraculous divine power can do such a thing? This is certainly no ordinary yogic siddhi. According to Patanjali, however, it can be explained, as a result of profound samyama, or dharana, dhyana, and samadhi on all the stages up to Isvara or the Mahapurusha, from which the creative power of "OM" emanates, leading to purification of all the sheaths or coverings over the free Soul.

   Still, from the position of ultimate awakening, according to proponents of jnana, or non-duality, this would still not be considered proof of the final stroke, the realization of the Void-Mind, nor would it be the necessary accompaniment of enlightenment. Patanjali himself warned against attachment to even the highest of such things. Alice Bailey, in her exposition of the yoga sutras, Book 3, Verse 37, said,

   "These powers are obstacles to the highest spiritual realization, but seen as magical in the objective realms."

   On the other hand, I.K. Taimni points out that

   "it is almost impossible to distinguish the terminal stages of self-realization and the powers that adhere in those stages, for the siddhis that come out of that realization are hardly occult powers as such."

   So there is a rahasya, or mystery, here that must humble mere mortals to dust. Kirpal Singh gave a hint of this with the following quotes:

   "I tell you now. As I explained many times, the son of man is not the Master; the son of man is the human pole at which God as the Master works. And it is that God Power that goes around and awakens all those who are initiated. He even appears to those who have some background, although they do not know who he is..." (8)

   "That is His Grace--if He leaves me, I am nothing. I am Mr. Zero. I don't do anything. That is the safest way." (9)

   Once approached by a new disciple, Ed Wallace, who at the time, about forty years ago, had become paralyzed on one side of his body due to the effects of liver disease and drug abuse, Kirpal said to him, "Oh, nobody can cure that." Two weeks later the man was free of all symptoms.

   One may rightly ask where such saints and sages exist today, and whether the purported help and enlightenment of many contemporary - and in particular, western - teachers is deep enough to last beyond the portals of death. Have they had a glimpse of Emptiness - or the fullest embodiment of Emptiness-Luminosity-All Pervading Energy, the three kayas of the enlightened Mind as termed by Padmasambhava in Tibetan Buddhism, requiring not only the "turnabout in the deep seat of understanding", as the Lankavatara Sutra says, "but also the fundamental transformation death of the bodhisattva's individualized will-control?" Have they achieved this much deeper non-dual realization, the ultimate liberation of anutarra samyaksambodhi itself? For it seems reasonable to assume that the deeper the realization, the deeper the help that may be given. On the other hand, the deeper one's individual practice itself, the greater the opportunity offered by the process of death for spiritual advancement or even enlightenment itself, according to the Tibetan tradition. Here all nature cooperates with your final "meditation" and there is a chance for one to recognize and abide in the clear light of consciousness as it dawns, if not permanently then for a brief period that will benefit ones future rebirths. This is the purpose behind recitation from the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol), to help the dying one remember who he is at the time of death and spiritually auspicious moments shortly afterwards. As Evans Wentz states:

   “The whole aim of the Bardo Thödol teaching...is to cause the Dreamer to awaken into Reality, freed from all the obscurations of karmic or sangsaric illusions, in a supramundane or Nirvanic state, beyond all phenomenal paradises, heavens, hells, purgatories, or worlds of embodiment.” (10)

   Vic Mansfield points out, in “Tibetan Buddhism and Analytical Psychology,” that this inherently implies a non-dual state of consciousness:

   The text clarifies this point when it discusses the dawn of the primary Clear Light at death.. It reads, “Thine own consciousness [rigpa, pure, pristine awareness], not formed into anything, in reality void, and the intellect [shes-rig, consciousness revealing contents or intellect], shining and blissful,—these two,—are inseparable. The union of them is the Dharma-Kaya state of Perfect Enlightenment.” (11)

   Sogyal Rinpoche speaks of this as the dawning of the “Ground Luminosity merging or uniting with the Pure Essence of one’s own Mind."   PB also writes on this last chance at freedom:

   “The aspirant whose efforts to attain inner freedom and union with the Overself while living seem to have been thwarted by fate or circumstances, may yet find them rewarded with success while dying. Then, at the very moment when consciousness is passing from the body, it will pass into the Overself.” (12)

   There are advaitists, such as Sri Nisargadatta and Ramesh Balsekar, who at times speak quite strictly on these things, and appear to deny any intermediate reality or awareness by an "I" after death. Their point of view is worth considering, along with that of the others, if only to counter false hopes of the ego among serious questers. Sri Nisargadatta states:

   "The memory of the past unfulfilled desires traps energy, which manifests itself as a person. When its charge gets exhausted, the person dies. Unfulfilled desires are carried over into the birth. Self-identification with body creates ever-fresh desires and there is no end to them unless this mechanism of bondage is clearly seen. It is clarity that is liberating, for you cannot abandon desire unless its causes and effects are clearly seen. I do not say that the same person is reborn. It dies, and dies for good. But its memories remain and their desires and fears. They supply the energy for a new person." (13)

   This is very Buddhistic in nature, yet even in a path such as Sant Mat one is said to die at each plane quit by the soul. The teaching as more commonly presented, however, is that for those who are unenlightened but somewhat spiritually aware, there is a period of individual existence after the brief swoon of death, “where happiness, bliss, comfort, and rest can be found as can only be imagined but not found here” (14), in various astral or causal realms, to be eventually followed by the "second-death" wherein the as yet not fully enlightened ego goes to sleep before its eventual re-embodiment. According to PB, one's own divine Soul oversees the entire process. PB also emphasizes that philosophic study while alive is a help in the afterlife, which would appear to de-emphasize the all or nothing approach of sages like Nisargadatta:

   "For as the Bhagavad-Gita truly says, "A little of this knowledge saves from much danger." Even a few years' study of philosophy will bring definite benefit into the life of the student. It will help him in all sorts of ways, unconsciously, here on earth and it will help him very definitely after death during his life in the next world of being." (15)

   It is maintained in Sant Mat, moreover, throwing a question mark over certain aspects of the Buddhist and Advaitic teachings, that some souls which have not yet undergone this second death wherein the subtle and causal bodies disintegrate into their constituent elements and the being with a new personality incarnates may do spiritual sadhana after death through the help of a Master-Soul, and the question of their need to eventually incarnate again might vary from individual to individual. Kirpal Singh affirmed that this is the case:

   "The initiates have a great concession: at the time of death, your Master will come to receive you, and not the angel of death. He usually appears several days or weeks before death to advise you of your coming departure from this world. I'm talking about those who keep the precepts! For those who do nothing with the gift of Naam, he may or may not appear before they leave the body...In your final moments, and much beforehand if you have gained proficiency in meditation, Master's radiant form will take you to a higher stage where you can make further progress. At the time of death the initiate will be as happy as a bride on her day of marriage! He may then place you in the first, second or third stage, or he may take you direct to Sach Khand. In some cases, where worldly desires and attachments are predominant, he will allow rebirth, but in circumstances more congenial for spiritual growth." (16)

   St. John of the Cross similarly writes of the death of those in genuine communion with the Lord or approaching sainthood:

   “It should be known that the natural death of persons who have reached this state is far different in its cause and more from the death of others, even though it is similar in natural circumstances. If the death of other people is caused by sickness or old age, the death of these persons is not so induced, in spite of their being sick or old; their soul is not wrested from them unless by some impetus and encounter of love far more sublime than previous ones; of greater power, and more valiant...The death of such persons is very gentle and very sweet, sweeter and more gentle than was their whole spiritual life on earth. For they die with the most sublime impulses and delightful encounters of love, resembling the swan whose song is much sweeter at the moment of death. Accordingly, David affirmed that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord [Ps. 116:15]. The just one’s first treasures, and last, are heaped together as company for the departure and going off to the kingdom, while praises are heard from the ends of the earth, which, as Isaiah says, are the glory of the just one [Is.24:16].” (The Living Flame of Love, Stanza 1:30)

   “Death cannot be bitter to the soul that loves, for in it she finds all the sweetness and delight of love. The thought of death cannot sadden her, for what she finds is that gladness accompanies this thought. Neither can the thought of death be burdensome and painful to her, for death will put an end to all her sorrows and afflictions and be the beginning of all her bliss. She thinks of death as her friend and bridegroom, and at the thought of it she rejoices as she would over the thought of her betrothal and marriage…” (Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 11:10)

   The following account mirrors these descriptions of St. John and depicts one disciple’s inner experience upon the death of Sant Kirpal Singh:

   from “The Homegoing of the Master”, a talk by Arran Stephens (Sat Sandesh, October 1974, p. 25)

   “At the time of Master's passing - the evening of the 21st of August - one initiate was sitting in meditation in Delhi. This initiate saw the Master's body in meditation lying down as though it were dead. And he said these powers began coming out of the Master, out the top of His head, and they were in the form of Light. One after the other came out, great powers, each one with different intensity, different luminosity, a different shade coming out of the Master. And he thought that these were the five elements that were leaving the Master's body. But he said that a hundred and twenty powers came out of the Master, and finally He withdrew completely from the body. And on the higher spiritual planes this disciple saw the Master walking towards a great congregation of Saints; and Swami Ji Maharaj, the fourth Master back, came forward to greet the Master and put His hand on His head and said, "What you have done, no one else has accomplished so far. So much work has been achieved through you." And Baba Sawan Singh came from above the Master, and this Great Light was shining out of Sawan Singh, from His feet, from His whole body, and streaming down on to His Beloved Son, Kirpal. Baba Jaimal Singh was there, Guru Nanak was there...all the Saints were there. They had come to greet the Master. Baba Sawan Singh came to Master and He went and touched Master's legs; He said, "You had pain here?" He touched His thighs: "You had pain here?” And He touched His chest and His back and His neck and head: "You had pain here? I gave you so much pain, but you bore it as a gift! You have freed multitudes of souls. So much grace of the Sat Purusha has been achieved through you, as was achieved through none other." And there was a great chorus of acclamation from all the Saints to the Master. And throughout it all Master's Face was very serene and very sober. And all mingled together their rays of Grace and Light in the Master. This was Master's triumphant Homegoing.”

Many, many of course, have attested to the experience of the peaceful passing away of loved ones. The presence of the divine guide is a great help, however, as this is not always the case. At the time of death the vasanas or latent tendencies are said to become active and take over almost completely in the unprepared individual, mightily resisting the process and pleading for the return of familiar ground. As Fenelon puts if:

   "We flatter ourselves that we have no regard for this life and long for the heavenly country, but when age or sickness make us see that the end of our life is much nearer, self-love awakes, feels sorry for itself , and is alarmed."

   In short, many say they do not fear death - when they are not dying! To have a true guru or master is a great blessing.

   Ramakrishna, PB, and other teachers similarly confirm that the visionary or subtle form of one's guide, if he is advanced enough, or one's faith in him, if strong enough, may comfort one during the transition at the time of death. Here is a current example as told by one Sant Mat initiate:

   ”On February 4th, 2008, we had a very sweet tea-time with Mata Ji. Such a divine sweetness in her presence! It's a kind of spiritual power. Imagine: daughter-in-law of Master Kirpal; wife of Master Darshan, and mother of living Master Rajinder.

   MataJi shared with us the recent passing of dear Jaswant Singh (a Baba Sawan Singh initiate, and the groom in the rare movie of Hazur in the 1940's). Sardar Jaswant Singh was a highly elevated, interesting, inquisitive, eccentric, intoxicated and joyous soul, full of love for the Masters. He was also a Munshi - Persian scholar. What most people didn't know that he was quite an entrepreneur, and had established a chain of dry cleaning stores, with which he amply established his family.

   When nearing his end (I think he was over 90 years old), the family could hear him in his bedroom calling out loudly (for he was at least 98% deaf), "Give me the date! Give me the date!" "Eighth? O.K." At least the family thought he said the 8th. The 8th was only a couple of days away, and all became apprehensive, as Master always comes to notify devoted initiates before actual physical death. The 8th came and went. It turned out that they had not heard correctly, as the Inner Master told him "the 18th!" Accordingly, he passed peacefully on the 18th, his face imbued with a rare glow for several hours, according to family and friends.”

   Huzur Maharj (Soamiji), when asked by a disciple about their apparent lack of progress in mediation and a dearth of inner experiences, replied that 99.5% of our meditation is being held in reserve by the inner Master explicitly for our benefit at the time of our death. This is pretty much a cornerstone of Sant Mat.

   While the concept of further evolution itself after death might appear difficult for some to reconcile with Buddhism, wherein it is generally assumed that all who have not attained enlightenment in this life face complete egoic or skandhic dissolution followed by rebirth until they realize enlightenment in the waking state, and is certainly one of the great mysteries in the traditions, it is not always mandated in the Buddhist canon that one must reincarnate on the earth-plane to attain enlightenment; exceptions are noted: see "The Four Levels of Sainthood" and "The Ten Fetters of Buddhism" as presented by the Wanderling on his website, and The Thirty-One Planes of Existence from the Theravadin perspective. PB also wrote that one might continue evolving on other spheres. Traditional yogic schools, including the Kriya path of Paramhansa Yogananda, concur with this possibility:

   “Salvation is of two kinds: final liberation from all karma and union with God; and freedom from earthly karma, giving the possiblitiy of living from then on in high astral regions, from which one can work out his astral and causal karma until he reaches final liberation. Salvation from the need for further imprisonment on this material plane is in itself a great blessing, and can be won even without (yet) achieving divine perfection.” (17)

   In any case, “From God we come, to God we go"...."the Self of all beings"...."who is more the life of the Soul than the Soul itself is the life of the body.”   Fear no more. All is well.


   Further thoughts:

"Some people, sweet and attractive, and strong and healthy, happen to die young. They are masters in disguise teaching us about impermanence."   - The Dalai Lama

"Your fear of death is really fear of yourself: see what it is from which you are fleeing."   - Rumi

"Nobody is born or dies at any time; it is the mind that conceives its birth and death and its migration to other bodies and other worlds."   - Yoga Vasishta

"Nothing dies. The body is imagined. There is no such thing."   - Sri Nisargadatta


   “In death only the body dies. Life does not, consciousness does not, reality does not. And the life is never so alive as after death…He [the gnani] gets happier every day. The reel of destiny is coming to an end. He is going home.”

"Here and hereafter are words to frighten children. We never come or go, we are where we are."
  - Swami Vivekananda

"I have never told you that you will never be reborn. I have only said that you will be rid of the illusion that you were ever born or will die." - Atmananda Krishnamenon

"Unlike life, death cannot be taken away from men, and therefore we may consider it as the gift of God."   - Seneca

"Why dread even death? God allows it to happen to everybody, so it cannot be bad."   - Paramhansa Yogananda

"Understand for yourself that death is nothing. Know that, "I am birthless, I am deathless, I have never taken birth and I will never die." Take the poisonous tooth out of the serpent and play with him. You know it is not going to do any harm to you. Death is nothing. Everyday, when you sleep it is like a small death. Why to fear? Nothing is there. Everything is illusion. Keep your mind in that fearless state only. Just as the poisonous tooth is taken out, in the same way, play with the world, play with the illusion, there is no harm. It won't affect your mind. Live fearlessly; no death, no fear, knowing "I am that real Power." There is nothing! What will harm you?"   - Ranjit Maharaj

"There is no difference between life and death." When asked by someone then why is it that you do not die, he replied  "because there is no difference between life and death."   - Thales

“Nothing happens.”   - the 16th Karmapa, on his deathbed.

"Our own death absolutely confronts us with the reality that this is a story. Other people's deaths can also confront us with that. It is precisely the existence of death in the dream that makes so many of us make up these wild, wild stories about the things that must be achieved and the heavens that must be aimed for. For a person, death is quite a challenge, so to avoid contemplating its own annihilation, the mind makes up the most wonderful and bizarre stories about an entity that continues after death in some way...Nothing continues after death but that's o.k. because nothing is continuing right now."   - Richard Sylvester, The Book of No One

"To fear death, gentlemen, is nothing other than to think oneself wise when one is not; for it is to think one knows what one does not know. No man knows whether death may not even turn out to be the greatest of blessings for a human being; and yet people fear it as if they knew for certain that it is the greatest of evils."  - Socrates

"The fear of death, which is the highest punishment, comes to all in order to teach them the true immortality, which is in Unity. If you think that you are one and he is another, then you have to die: if you think all are one, then you become deathless."

"Death causes fear. What is the meaning of fear? It arises from the meaning you attach to the word death. The train of ideas (kalpanas) of the loss it entails come into your mind and frightens you. Therefore it is the thought that causes fear. Hence when you know this why should you be afraid of a thought? The obstacle is that you do not want to look upon this body as an idea. Yet the word 'body' brings to you only a thought. In dream and sleep all ideas sink back into the Mind, like the waves into the ocean, why then be dissatisfied? The waves are still in the ocean, the ideas are still in the Mind. Therefore nothing is really lost, at death it is really a going back into itself. So you must inquire what is the self? If men knew this, that higher than the mind is the Atman, that everything goes back into it and IS there, what room for fear?"

   [“The soul departed in the Lord does not die, it returns to God, who is the Giver of Life.”]

"The best way in which nature teaches you to inquire is giving you a number of deaths. Be born and die constantly and then you will begin to question seriously what death is. Then you will not be satisfied with what you see, but begin to ask questions of Nature [God]."

"After having done everything, achieved everything, had the greatest pleasures, even then I shall be taken away and must die. Hence the thoughtful man inquires into the meaning of death. Thus philosophy springs out of death."

"The notion that you will go to some world after death, some astral plane or religious heavens will disappear as nonsense with the disappearance of belief in the reality of the I."

"He must be as indifferent to the death of his own body as we are to the death of people we have never seen or heard of and living in distant continents."
  - V.S. Iyer

“What a worthless notion life and death is - ha!   - Zen Master Boshan

"A jnani is as indifferent to death as to life. Even if his physical condition should be the most wretched, even if he should be stricken with the most painful disease and die rolling on the ground, shrieking with pain, he remains unaffected. He is the jnani." - Ramana Maharshi

"This wise one neither abhors birth and rebirth nor wishes to perceive the Self. Free from joy and sorrow, he is neither dead nor alive."

"Reposing on the foundation of his own being, and forgetting the entire cycle of birth and rebirth, the great-souled person does not care whether his body dies or is born."
  - Ashtavakra

"Once the Master was asked by a monk:  “Your reverence always teaches that the worlds of paradise, heaven and hell, hungry ghosts and fighting demons are all in the mind and don’t exist outside, etc. But in the Sutra [the Buddha] says that if you travel westward across a billion buddha lands, there’s a region called Paradise, which is the manifestation of the Buddha Amida. Does that mean the Buddha is lying?” The Master said: “Who decided on that direction?”    - Bankei


1. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications), Vol. 6, Part 2, 1.109
2. David Godman, The Power of the Presence, Part One (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanashramam, 2000), p. 19.
3. Swami Kriyananda, The Path: One Man's Quest on the Only Path There Is (Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity Publishers, 1996), p. 380
3a. Professor Laxmi Narain, Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi (Hyderabad, India: Sri Ramana Kendram, 2007), p. 257
4. Peter Haskell, Bankei Zen (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1984), p. 63-64)
5. Sri Nisargadatta, I AM UNBORN, p. 193
6. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol 15, Part 2, 3.239
7. I.K. Taimni ,The Science of Yoga (Wheaton, Illinois: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1981), p. 312
8.Sat Sandesh, May 1976, p. 9
9. Kirpal Singh, Heart to Heart Talks, Vol. 2, p.120
10. W.Y. Evans-Wentz, The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1977) p. 358.
11. Ibid, p. 96 (excerpted from Victor Mansfield, ”Tibetan Buddhism and Analytical Psychology: Appreciating Differences.”)
12. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 6, Part 1, 1.86
13. source misplaced.
14. Ibid, 1.137
15. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 2, 5.416
16. Arran Stephens, Journey to the Luminous (Seattle, Washington: Elton-Wolf Publications, 1999), p. 41
17. The Essence of the Bhagavad-Gita, Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda, As Remembered by His Disciple, Swami Kriyananda (Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2006), p. 569

For those who believe in the concept of an individual soul, and its experiences after death, please feel free to read the following:

Mystery of Death by Kirpal Singh

What Becomes of the Soul After Death by Swami Sivananda