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I don’t know who has to die and who has to live

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 realised that time was so short, he clung to his mother’s sari, and broke down. He wanted to meet all his family members, friends and 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 that how could he 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 in the last 24 hours, I have been aware of it for the last 24 years.”

Fear of death stems from our fear of seeing it all end, losing our possessions and being catapulted into endless darkness. Most people find it difficult to come to terms with their mortality; they prefer to believe that there is life even after death. But those who are in constant touch with their inner spirit seldom fear the inevitable. They believe in neither heaven nor hell; they also don’t believe in the theory of incarnation.

Our stipulated lifespan is a mere ‘blip’ in this ostensibly vast eternity spanning billions of years. We must therefore learn to value each day of our life and savour it, moment by moment.

All those who believe in hoarding their energy and resources for the future could take a cue from the insatiable musician who eventually rued: “I spent so much time in stringing my instruments that there was no time left for me to perform...”
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