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Ramana Maharishi’s death experience

Ramana Maharishi used that door to take a quantum jump into deathlessness.


 T here is a beautiful example of the power of intensity in the life of enlightened master, Ramana Maharishi.

When he was sixteen, spontaneously this happened to him. He was in Madurai near his native place called Thiruchuzhi, which is in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Suddenly one day he started feeling that he was going to die. The great death fear arose in him.

We also sometimes feel that fear of death when we hear about some relative’s or friend’s death or when we see an accident or when we come across some news about death. We are so well-versed or trained to suppress our emotions and control ourselves that we never allow this fear to come out.

 We are such hypocrites that we don’t even know we are cheating ourselves! 

We are such hypocrites that we don’t even know we are cheating ourselves! Many times we can see the fear rise but we are an automatic mechanism of suppression. Over time we learn how to balance ourselves or suppress ourselves. We suppress ourselves and just forget about it or try to do something. We just turn the attention elsewhere.

 How can a fear create such a big transformation in Ramana Maharishi..

But Ramana Maharishi did not do anything. He used the door to take the jump. We are also again and again going near this door. Whenever we hear about somebody’s death or whenever fear attacks, we also go near the door. But we are afraid to take the jump. We have trained ourselves so much to be hypocrites or not to be intense. We somehow balance and we escape. We switch on the television or we just move our attention towards something else.

Ramana Maharishi used that door to take a quantum jump into deathlessness. He just lay down on the floor and did not move his body and allowed death to happen.

After the enlightenment, he says beautifully about his experience:

Suddenly for no reason I felt the deep fear that I am going to die. I was not sick. I was not having any mental problem. Physically, mentally I was healthy. Suddenly the thought came, ‘I am going to die.’

I just cooperated with that fear. I did not try to jump, I did not try to run away, and I did not bother about anything else. I did not feel like doing anything else. I just sat and allowed the feeling. I just sat and allowed death to happen to my being. I lay down, and I decided let me see what happens. What can be done? I just accepted and I consciously started moving into that fear. The fear started working on me. I could see that I am dead. My body is not moving, nothing is happening in me. I could see very clearly that I am out of the body. Suddenly like a flash the intelligence or the truth descended on me that my body is dead but I am alive. ‘I’ am not dead. My body is dead, but I could see, I could feel that I still exist. It means I am something beyond the body.

That single experience of the truth shook me completely and I realized I am not just the body, and that I am something beyond the body. After that I never faced the death fear or any other fear. Once and for all the fear had disappeared from my being. The moment I understood that even after my body dying, there is something in me that is not dying, why should I bother about my body’s death?

Why should I bother about the death of my body? Because even if it dies, I am going to continue, I am going to exist, I am alive. That means I am something more than what I think. I am something more than this body. This realization has never left me. I have never moved away from this realization after that one experience.

How can a fear create such a big transformation in Ramana Maharishi when in our lives it happens yet we are unchanged by it? The answer is intensity. Such an ultimate experience can suddenly happen without any reason. It is purely your intensity.

Motivation for social service

Be very clear, if you want to really serve society, the first thing you need is intensity in your purpose.

I have seen many people doing something in the name of social service, just because they can’t sit with themselves. Be very clear, if you are not able to sit with yourself and do social service like going to some temple, going to some social service organization or doing some such service, you will never be able to experience the truth.

 Going to the temple or doing some social service should be like overflowing. 

Going to the temple or doing some social service should be like overflowing. You feel so full, you feel there is nothing more to be done and think, ‘I have so much of time, let me do some service to society, it is beautiful.’ Then it will lead you to enlightenment. The service itself can lead you to spiritual experience. You feel overflowing and think, ‘God has given me so much, this whole life is so beautiful,’ and you go to a temple or church to offer your gratitude. Then it will just liberate you and you will become enlightened.

If you are going to the temple or for social service just because you don’t feel relaxed within yourself, you can’t sit quietly. There is so much of restlessness within you that you just want to do catharsis in some way.

People with this type of attitude, even if they go to temples, will be sitting there and shouting at everybody, ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do that. What are you doing? Don’t you know god wants this?’ They will start representing god! Not even representing, they will even start acting god. This type of persons, even if they do some service will be only putting their ego in front. They will only be torturing others. They will not be serving others.

A small story:

There was a schoolteacher who was a scoutmaster. He had made a rule that all his students should report to him of at least one good activity or service they did that day.

One day three friends got up and said, ‘Sir, today we helped an old lady cross the road.’ The scoutmaster said, ‘Old lady crossing the road is fine but why did she need three of you to help her cross the road?’

The three boys replied, ‘Yes sir, it took all three of us to help her cross the road because she didn’t want to!’

Be very clear, many times you start doing things just for the sake of service, not feeling. You don’t feel what you are doing. You don’t feel the need of the other person. You need to fill your time and you need to show your project report to somebody, maybe to the higher authorities or to the society. Just for that when you do it, you create a mess and more difficulty for others.

 I always feel service should be overflowing out of your being. It should never be done for some other purpose. 

I always feel service should be overflowing out of your being. It should never be done for some other purpose. Whenever it is done for some other purpose, be very clear, you will not be intense and you will not be growing in your being. Your love or service will be pure hypocrisy. I can say ‘impure hypocrisy’, not even pure hypocrisy! If you are pure you will be liberated. It is impure hypocrisy.

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