I used to be very afraid of dying. I did a lot of thinking about what it means to die, and what is it that’s going to die. The more we dwell on this particular subject, the more we start answering fundamental questions about who we are.
There are many beautiful teachings about who we are. Ramana Maharshi and Poonja-ji talked about this as did many other teachers. Inevitably we have to ask, “Who am I? Who is this ‘I’ that is asking these questions? What is it that is concerned about these things?” We can’t help asking ourselves these questions. The more we truly ask “Who am I?” the more we arrive at a place where we don’t have an answer as to what we really are.
We don’t know
what we really are.
No one does!
But in the meantime, we start to see that we have memories. One of the most definitive things that we say to ourselves is, “I have a lot of memories; therefore I must be all of my memories. I have all my memories of all my ideas about the things I have done, and the things that I want to do. I have all these memories; therefore I must be my memories.”
Then if we study the human brain, we start to see that memories are stored in one specific part of our brain. Many people have had accidents and that part of their brain doesn’t work very well, or they have some disease or chemical imbalance, and that part of their brain isn’t functioning. They have no memories! If they have no memories, are they still here or have they disappeared?
When the time comes that our bodies and our brains die, what happens to our memories? Can the memories continue to the next place or do the memories get erased? If the memories continue, then do we continue to the next place as separate individuals with memories?
If we go to the absolute Beloved to be with That as one, how can we be with That as one if we hold our own separate individual memories? So what do we want? If we go to be as one with That which we can’t speak about, then our memories have to be left behind!
So maybe the ideal thing, when the time comes that we leave here, would be to have our memories and our experiences, and to take them with us someplace so that we can have them whenever we want them. Then, at the same time, if we don’t want them because we don’t like them, we can discard them. Maybe that would be a good plan!
That’s why the Buddha said, “Do not waste time and effort in this life pondering subjects and discussions that have no answers.” This was one of his greatest teachings.
The Buddha said many things, but I think this was his number one teaching: We should not waste this life by pondering things like this and getting into discussions about things that basically, if we’re honest, have no answers. We should spend the time that we have here in other things. Spend this time in life. Spend this time in life because this is lifeand this is where we are.