Monday Morning Greetings 2018 #22 – Why Death?

May 28th, 2018

I recently gave a seminar on death and a question came to my mind before the class that I felt must be answered. Why death?


Death is the most heartless and cruel experience when everything we cherish is lost in one fell swoop. Why death?


There is nothing more traumatic than that horrid moment when we lose even our very concept of existence and identity. It is so traumatic that it still remains indelibly imbedded in our subtle bodies to the extent that even as a babe in our next life we are more terrified of death than anything else, even though we have no experience of it yet. Oh Lord, can you not spare even the innocent and pure this fear? Why death?


O Krishna, how I pray to beat the reaper of time. Please don’t appear before me in the form of cancer, your seeming doom flavor of the month that keeps us in a state of apprehension and terror. Don’t take me now! Don’t take my loved ones! Let us live on at any cost, even a few years more! Why death?


Our problem is not death, or the inevitable change of body. It is the ego—the false conception of controller and enjoyer that binds us to the body and causes our suffering. Death announces with certainty that we are not the controller. It is a tool given by God to help us remove the root of our suffering—the false ego. It is not the enemy. Ignorance is! Fear not!


Staying in the body forever, even if healthy, is not a boon as long as we have the mood of selfishness, which disconnects us from the soul.  When that spirit dies, which is the root of all anguish, we are, in one sense, no longer in need of a body. We then live eternally within the true self, our spirit self of pure service. “Die to live.” Fear not!


When some things don’t go our way it is called a problem. When our world is upended it is called a tragedy. I felt tragedy. All I could do is take shelter of the holy name chanting day and night. A realization came. The voice of chanting is a heartfelt prayer for service and thus related to the real me, the soul, which is consciousness meant for service, and that me, the one calling out to God, will not end with the body. Only the false self, the ego, the voice that is disturbed when the world is not conforming to my desires, will die. I deeply sense eternality and feel great relief. Fear Not!


I was there when Śrīla Prabhupāda arrived in Vṛndāvana to leave the world. He called us to his room and announced ever so nonchalantly, “What is death, but a change of body?” He then quoted from the Bhagavad-gītā chapter 2 verse 13 where it says the self-realized is not bewildered by such a change. We were there when he left. He was sober, undisturbed, and not bewildered by such a change. Fear not!


“The holy name of Krishna is as powerful as the Lord Himself. Therefore, simply by chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord, many men can be fully protected from fierce death without difficulty. Thus a devotee is saved. By the grace of the Lord, if a devotee, at the time of death, can simply chant His holy name.” (Bhāg. 4.10.30)


Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare


“Simply by chanting this mahā-mantra, he immediately surpasses the great ocean of the material sky and enters the spiritual sky. He never has to come back for repetition of birth and death. Simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can surpass the ocean of death.” (Bhāg. 4.10.30, purport)


“What is death but another birthday?”[1] Fear Not!


Death is the illusion of non-existence. Fear Not!


Why death?  My question is answered.


[1] I remember reading how Śrīla Prabhupāda said this, but I cannot find the reference.


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