Meher Baba Explains Death
When his brother Jamshed died in 1926, Meher Baba told the mandali:
All say that by submitting to death, my brother Jamshed has left this world, and that is quite true. But all this hustle and bustle and noise of the world is momentary, and when the show is over one has to depart. Believe me, Jamshed is not dead; his body has died. Everyone thinks he is dead, but I say he has taken birth! The joy expressed by people at the birth of a child should be expressed when a person breathes his last — instead of all the show of sorrow, grief and sympathy. This is sheer ignorance and those who understand the secret of birth and death feel sorry at this hypocritical pretense.
If you had divine sight, you would be fully convinced and see for yourself that after the dropping of the physical body, the soul, which is always immortal, is always there. And death does not make the slightest difference in this, as you believe.
Everyone is feeling that Jamshed left this world in the prime of life. But one has to go sooner or later, and no one but God knows the exact right moment. How can you say he was young? He was thousands of years old, and God knows how many [more] births he will take on this earth! Whatever you saw before your eyes was only the gross form of Jamshed, and its absence makes you weep with sorrow for him.
If you wish me to be a partner in your dense ignorance — forget it!
Death is common to all. It is a necessary step forward toward Real Life (eternal, Infinite Existence). The soul merely changes into a new abode; thus, dying is nothing more than changing your coat. Jamshed has changed it after experiencing life in it on this plane. It is like an actor who plays different parts in different dramas, or changes costumes in the same play behind the curtain and then reappears on stage in a different garb. Or it can be compared with sleep. The difference between death and sleep is that after the former state, one awakens in a new body, while in the latter state, one becomes conscious of the same body. Worldly-minded people do not go into hysterics and become upset when a person goes to sleep at night, simply because they expect to see him awaken alive again the next morning. Then why not exercise the same indifference when he sleeps the sleep of death, since he or she is bound to awaken alive sooner or later in a new body?
You at times travel in a train and other passengers, without a care in the world, depart at different stations such as Lonavla, Kalyan and Dadar, all according to their tickets. In the same way, Jamshed was traveling and when he reached his destination, according to his ticket, he departed from the train [left his body]. His station was nearby. But according to you, he has passed away in his youth. The trains go on running day and night and numberless passengers travel in them and depart at different stations according to their tickets. How many are you going to weep over?
The reason most people are not indifferent is that, through their defective mortal eyes, they cannot discern the still-existing subtle form of their beloved or friend, after the so-called death, and consequently they are unaware of its spiritual existence. Thus it is the selfishness of not being able to satisfy their minds in the absence of the sight of their dear ones that makes people weep and wail and not so much the death itself. After the death of a person, a hue and cry is raised from all sides: “My beloved father or mother is dead! … The source of my life is gone … The light of my eyes is dimmed! … Where is my sweetheart? … My support has disappeared.”
Such exclamations are commonly heard in the house of death. But in spite of a great display of grief and pain, my and mine remain uppermost rather than consideration for the welfare of the one who has actually passed away.
The sword of death has been swinging freely since the beginning of man’s history. Every day I see hundreds and thousands of my brothers dying without feeling anything for it, and similarly, Jamshed’s death is no exception to this. All admit that death is unavoidable — the necessary end for all — and though the fact is universally acknowledged and experienced, at the time of its happening, people immediately start crying. It is either madness or unsoundness of the mind! Nothing lasts, everything is indefinite in this world except the jivatma [individual soul], who is subject to births and deaths. Even Perfect Masters and Avatars leave this world when their duty is over, so what to say of ordinary souls? This come-and-go game, the alternating experiences of life and gathering and spending of sanskaras, is really quite difficult to understand.
Most people generally do not believe in the principle of karma and are firmly convinced that there is no other body. The very thought of reincarnation, of another body makes them shudder and shake. They say that once one is dead, he is dead and there is no rebirth in the same way that dry wood does not turn green again.
But really speaking, poor Jamshed is not dead. It will be a pleasant surprise if Jamshed is really dead; but he is not. If he were really dead, all should rejoice over it, since it would mean Real Life for him. Unless we really die [the ego is annihilated], we cannot realize divinity. So all this expressing of sorrow and regret is bunkum.
Although you find me moving about amongst you, playing with you, and in fact, doing all that a supposedly living man does, I am really dead! I am truly and really dead, though I seem alive and active to you. If you die once, truly, there will be no more life and death for you since you become one with God. Because I am dead I am alive! As Kabir says:
Everyone says, “I am dying,” but none of them die.
Only he who is dead before dying has not to die again.
These are the words of Kabir.
Die such a death that you will not have to die again. Die, all of you, in the real sense of the word so that you may live ever after. The stopping of breath and the absence of pulse are not real dying. It is no use letting your earthly body die; all your desires and longings should die. That is, seek out the death of maya first and become sanskara-less. Then alone will you have died the real death and have been born into eternity.
An earthly being who realizes God can be said to have earned real birth. All the wise ones, holy ones, sufis, saints, pirs and prophets, by surrendering every worldly thing to God, have reached the Goal — Union with God. So do such acts that will earn you freedom from the recurring rounds of births and deaths.
When you understand this, what is the use of sorrow and weeping? If you have love for the dead, it should be selfless. The dead do not want your expressions of sadness. Manifest such love for them that they would be pleased and at peace. If you want the consciousness of their souls to progress, express selfless love. Do not make them unhappy by your weeping and wailings.
Jamshed was my brother, but I am Jam Sheth [Master of Death]. The same death has brought Jamshed to his Master. Jamshed is near Jam Sheth! So give up this worthless conduct and be absorbed in your duties. Do not have the idea that because Jamshed is dead the world is dead.
He who is convinced that after death there is birth again never worries or sorrows. What is the use of sorrowing over dried-up crops in the field? By dying before death [annihilating the mind] you will gain both worlds. Otherwise, it is a never-ending cycle of taking birth and dying. There is no escape.
It is a matter of luck. What can we do when our last day dawns? It is not in our hands, so what can be done? We all have to go one day. So what is the sense of weeping? One can do nothing except submit to God’s will.
Source: Lord Meher, online rev. ed., pp. 640-43 (27 February 1926, Meherabad)