Excerpt from Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 8, ch 1

This rather long excerpt has been reproduced in its entirety because it was difficult to decide where to cut . . . the necessary context for the small part that Anando referred to (in two places, here and here) seemed to be the whole thing. So be it. For those who just want to read that small part, it is about 3/4 of the way down, enclosed in a box.

The first sutra:


Many things. First, why be worried about the exact time of death? How is it going to help? What is the point of it? If you ask Western psychologists, they will almost call it abnormal morbidity. Why be concerned with death? Avoid. Go on believing that death is not going to happen -- at least not to you. It always happens to somebody else. You have seen people die, you have never seen yourself die, so why be afraid? You may be the exception. But nobody is an exception; and death has already happened in your birth, so you cannot avoid it.

Now the birth is beyond your power. You cannot do anything about it; it has already happened. It is already past; it is already done. You cannot undo it. Death is yet to happen: something is possible to be done about it.

The whole of Eastern religion depends on the vision of death, because that is the possibility which is going to happen. If you know it beforehand, tremendous is the possibility. Many doors open. Then you can die in your own way, then you can die with a signature of your own on your death. Then you can manage not to be born again -- that is the whole meaning. It is not morbid. It is very, very scientific. When everybody is going to die, this is absolutely foolish not to think about death, not to meditate upon death, not to focus upon it, not to come to a deep understanding about it.

It is going to happen. If you know, much is possible.

Patanjali says even the exact date, the hour, the minute, the second of death can be known beforehand. If you know exactly when death is coming, you can prepare. Death has to be received like a great guest. It is not the enemy. In fact it is a god given gift. It is a great opportunity to pass through. It can become a breakthrough: if you can die alert, conscious, aware, you will never be born again -- and there will be no death anymore. If you miss, you will be born again. If you go on missing, you will be continuously born again and again, unless you learn the lesson of death.

Let me say it in this way: the whole of life is nothing but a learning about death, a preparation for death. That's why death comes in the end. It is the pinnacle, the crescendo, the very climax, the peak.

In the West particularly, contemporary psychologists have become aware that in a deep sex act a certain peak can be attained, a climax, a great orgasm, which is tremendously fulfilling, exhilarating, ecstatic. You are cleansed; you come out of it rejuvenated, fresh, again young, again alive -- all the dust gone, as if you have taken a great shower, an energy shower. But they have not yet come to know that the sex act is a very minor death; and one who can achieve deep orgasm is one who allows himself to die in love. It is a minor death, nothing to be compared with death. Death is the greatest orgasm there is.

The intensity of death is such that almost always people become unconscious. They cannot face it. The moment death comes, you are so afraid, so full of anxiety, to avoid you become unconscious. Almost ninety-nine percent of people die unconsciously. They miss the opportunity.

To know death beforehand is just a method to help you prepare so when death comes you are perfectly alert and aware, waiting, ready to go with death, ready to surrender, ready to embrace death. Once you have accepted death in awareness, there is no longer any birth for you -- you have learned the lesson. Now there is no coming back to the school again. This life is just a school, a discipline -- a discipline to learn death. It is not morbid.

The whole of religion is concerned with death, and if some religion is not concerned with death, then it is not religion at all. It may be a sociology, an ethics, a morality, a politics, but it cannot be religion. Religion is the search of the deathless; but that deathless is possible only through the door of death.

The first sutra says, "By performing samyama on the two types of karma, active and dormant, or upon omens and portents, the exact time of death can be predicted." The Eastern analysis of karma says that there are three types of karma. Let us understand them.

First is called sanchita. Sanchita means the total, the total of all your past lives. Whatsoever you have done, howsoever you have reacted to situations, whatsoever you have thought and desired, achieved, missed -- the total -- the total of your doings, thinkings, feelings of all the lives is called sanchita. Sanchita: the word means the all, the accumulated all.

The second type of karma is known as prarabdha. The second type of karma is that part of sanchita which you have to fulfill in this life, which has to be worked out in this life. You have lived many lives; you have accumulated much. Now a part of it will have the opportunity to be acted out, realized, suffered, passed through in this life. Only a part of it, because this life has a limitation -- seventy, eighty, or a hundred years. In a hundred years you cannot live all the past karmas -- the sanchita, the accumulated -- only a part of it. That part is called prarabdha.

Then there is a third type of karma which is known as kriyaman. That is day-to-day karma. First the accumulated whole, then a small portion of it for this life, then even a smaller portion of it for today or for this moment. Each moment there is an opportunity to do something or not to do something. Somebody insults you: you become angry. You react, you do something; or, if you are aware, you simply watch, you don't become angry. You simply remain a witness. You don't do anything; you don't react. You remain cool and collected; you remain centered. The other has not been able to disturb you.

If you are disturbed by the other and you react, then the kriyaman karma falls into the deep reservoir of the sanchita. Then you are accumulating again; then for future lives you are accumulating. If you don't react, then a past karma is fulfilled -- you must have insulted this man in some past life, now he has insulted you; the account is closed. Finished. A man who is aware will feel happy that at least this part is finished. He has become a little more free.

Somebody came and insulted Buddha. Buddha remained quiet, he listened attentively, and then he said, "Thank you." The man was very much puzzled; he said, "Have you gone mad? I am insulting you, hurting you, and you simply say thank you?" Buddha said, "Yes, because I was waiting for you. I had insulted you in the past, and I was waiting -- unless you come I will not be totally free. Now you are the last man; my accounts are closed. Thank you for coming. You might have waited, you might not have come in this life, then I would have had to wait for you. And I don't say anything anymore, because enough is enough. I don't want to create another chain."

Then the kriyaman karma, the day-to-day karma, does not fall into the reservoir, does not add to it; in fact, the reservoir is a little less than it was. The same is true about prarabdha -- the whole life, this life. If in this life you go on reacting, you are creating the reservoir more and more. You will have to come again and again. You are creating too many chains; you will be in bondage.

Try to understand the Eastern concept of freedom. In the West freedom has a connotation of political freedom. In India we don't bother much about political freedom, because we say unless one is spiritually free, it makes not much difference whether you are politically free or not. The fundamental thing is to be spiritually free.

The bondage is created by the karmas. Whatsoever you do in unawareness becomes a karma. Any action done in unawareness becomes a karma because any action done in unawareness is not action at all; it is a reaction. When you do something in full awareness it is not a reaction; it is an action, spontaneous, total. It leaves no trace. It is complete in itself; it is not incomplete. If it is incomplete then some day or other it will have to be completed. So if in this life you remain alert, then the prarabdha disappears and your reservoir becomes more and more empty. In a few lives the reservoir becomes absolutely empty.

This sutra says, "By performing samyama on the two types of karma...." Patanjali means sanchita and prarabdha because the kriyaman is nothing but a part of prarabdha, so he divides in two.

What is samyama? That has to be understood. Samyama is the greatest synthesis of human consciousness, the synthesis of three: dharana, dhyan, samadhi.

Ordinarily, your mind is continuously jumping from one object to another. Not for a single moment are you in tune with one object. You go on jumping. Your mind goes on constantly moving; it is like a flux. This moment something is in the focus of the mind, next moment something else, next moment still something else. This is the ordinary state of mind.

The first step out of it is dharana. Dharana means concentration -- fixing your whole consciousness on one object, not allowing the object to disappear, bringing again and again your consciousness on the object so that the unconscious habit of the mind of continuous flux can be dropped; because once the habit of continuous change can be dropped, you attain to an integrity, to a crystallization. When there are so many objects moving continuously, you remain so many. Understand it. You remain divided because your objects are divided.

For example, you love one woman today, another woman tomorrow, another woman the third day. That will create a division in you. You cannot be one; you will become many. You will become a crowd. Hence the Eastern insistence to create a love in which you can remain for a longer period, as long as possible. There have been experiments in the East in which a couple has remained a couple for many lives together. Again and again the same woman, the same man: that gives an integrity. Too much change erodes your being, splits you. So if in the West the schizophrenia is becoming almost a normal thing, it is not something to be wondered at. It is not strange; it is natural. Everything is changing.

I have heard that one film actress in Hollywood got married to her eleventh husband. She came home, introduced the new dad to the children. The children brought a register, and they said to the dad, "Please sign it, because today you are here, tomorrow you may be gone; and we are accumulating the signatures, autographs, of all our dads."

You go on changing houses; you go on changing everything. In America the average limit of a person's job is three years. The job is also continuously changing. The house -- the average limit of a person staying in one town is also three years. And the average limit of marriage is also three years. Somehow three years seems to be very important. It seems if you remain the fourth year with the same woman there is fear that you may get settled. If you remain in the same job more than three years there is fear that you may get settled. So people go on; they have become almost vagabonds. That creates divisions inside you.

In the East we tried to give a job to a person as part of his life. A man was born in a Brahmin house: he remained a Brahmin. That was a great experiment to give stability. A man was born in a shoemaker's house: he remained a shoemaker. The marriage, the family, the job, the town -- people were born in the same town and they would die in the same town. Lao Tzu remembers, "I have heard that in the ancient days people had not gone beyond the river." They had heard dogs barking on the other side, the other shore. They had inferred that there must be a town because in the evening they had seen smoke rising -- people must be cooking. They had heard dogs barking, but they had not bothered to go and see. People were so harmoniously settled.

This constant change simply says that your mind is feverish. You cannot stay longer at anything; then your whole life becomes a life of continuous change -- as if a tree is being uprooted again and again and again and never gets the right time to send its roots deep down into the earth. The tree will be alive only for the name's sake. It will not be able to bloom, not possible, because before flowers come, the roots have to settle.

So, concentration means bringing your consciousness to one object and becoming capable of retaining it there -- any object. If you are looking at a rose flower, you continuously look at it. Again and again the mind wanders, goes here and there; you bring it back. You tame the mind -- you tame the bull. You bring it back to the rose. The mind goes again; you bring it back. By and by, the mind starts being with the rose for longer periods. Once your mind remains with the rose for a long period, you will be able for the first time to know what a rose is. It is not just a rose: God has flowered in it. The fragrance is not only of the rose; the fragrance is divine. But you never were en rapport with it for long.

Sit with a tree and be with it. Sit with your boyfriend or girlfriend and be with him or her, and bring yourself again and again. Otherwise, what is happening? Even if you are making love to a woman, you are thinking of something else -- maybe moving in a totally different world. Even in love you are not focused. You miss much. A door opens, but you are not there to see it. You come back when the door is closed again.

Each moment there are millions of opportunities to see God, but you are not there. He comes and knocks at your doors, but you are not there. You are never found there. You go on roaming around the world. This roaming has to be stopped; that's what is the meaning of dharana. Dharana is the first step of the great synthesis of samyama.

The second step is dhyan. In dharana, in concentration, you bring your mind to a focus: the object is important. You have to bring again and again the object in your consciousness; you are not to lose track of it. The object is important in dharana. The second step is dhyan, meditation. In meditation the object is not important anymore; it becomes secondary. Now, the flow of consciousness becomes important -- the very consciousness which is being poured on the object. Any object will do, but your consciousness should be poured in a continuity; there should not be gaps.

Have you watched? If you pour water from one pot to another, there are gaps. If you pour oil from one pot to another, there are not gaps. Oil has a continuity; water falls discontinuously. Dhyan means, meditation means, your consciousness should be falling on any object of concentration in a continuity. Otherwise it is flickering. It is constantly flickering; it is not a continuous torch. Sometimes it is there, then disappears; then again is there, then disappears; then again is there. In dhyan you have to make it a continuity, an absolute continuity.

When consciousness becomes continuous, you become tremendously strong. For the first time you feel what life is. For the first time, holes in your life disappear. For the first time you are together. Your togetherness means the togetherness of consciousness. If your consciousness is like drops of water and not a continuity, you cannot be really there. Those gaps will be a disturbance. Your life will be very dim and faint; it will not have strength, force, energy. When consciousness flows in a continuous, riverlike phenomenon, you have become a waterfall of energy.

This is the second step of samyama, the second ingredient; and then is the third ingredient, the ultimate, that is samadhi. In dharana, concentration, the object is important because you have to choose one object amidst millions. In dhyan, meditation, consciousness is important; you have to make consciousness a continuous flow. In samadhi the subject is important: the subject has to be dropped.

You dropped many objects. When there were many objects, you were many subjects, a crowd, a polypsychic existence -- not one mind, many minds. People come to me and they say, "I would like to take sannyas, but...." That "but" brings the second mind. They think they are the same, but the "but" brings another mind. They are not one. They would like to do something and, at the same time, they would not like to do it -- two minds. If you watch you will find many minds in you -- almost a marketplace.

When there are too many objects, there are too many minds corresponding to them. When there is one object, one mind arises -- focused, centered, rooted, grounded. Now this one mind has to be dropped; otherwise you will remain in the ego. The many has been dropped; now drop the one also. In samadhi this one mind has to be dropped. When one mind drops, the one object also disappears because it cannot be there. They always are together.

In samadhi only consciousness remains, as pure space.

These three together are called samyama. Samyama is the greatest synthesis of human consciousness.

Now you will be able to understand the sutra: "By performing samyama on the two types of karma, active and dormant, or upon omens and portents, the exact time of death can be predicted." Now if you concentrate, meditate, and get in tune in samadhi, you can be capable of knowing the exact time of death. If you move your samyama, this great synthesis of consciousness, this great power that has arisen in you; if you move it towards death, you will be able to know immediately when you are going to die.

How it happens? When you go in a dark room, you cannot see what is there. When you go with a light, you can see what is there, or what is not there. You move almost in darkness your whole life, so you don't know how much prarabdha is still there -- prarabdha, the karma that you have to fulfill in this life. When you go with samyama, with light burning bright, you bring the flame in; you know how much prarabdha is left. You see the whole house is empty, just in the corner a few things are left, soon they will disappear. Now you can see when you are going to die.

It is said about Ramkrishna that he was much too interested in food; in fact obsessed. That is very unlikely. Even his wife, Sharada, used to feel very embarrassed; because he was such a great saint, only with one flaw -- and the flaw was that he was much too interested in food. He was interested so much that while he was giving satsang to his disciples, just in the middle he will say, "Wait, I am coming," and he will go to look into the kitchen, what is being cooked. He will just go there and ask, "What is being prepared today?" and then will come back and start his satsang again.

His closest disciples became worried. They said, "This doesn't look good, Paramhansa. And everything is so perfectly beautiful -- never has there walked such a beautiful and perfect man -- but this small thing, why can't you drop it?" He will laugh and will not say anything.

One day his wife Sharada insisted too much. He said, "Okay, if you insist, I will tell. My prarabdha is finished; and I am just clinging with this food. If I drop that I am gone."

The wife could not believe this. It is very difficult for wives to believe in their own husbands -- even if the husband is a Paramhansa it makes no difference. The wife must have thought that he is befooling, or he is trying to rationalize. Seeing that, Ramkrishna said, "Look, I can see that you are not trusting me, but you will know. The day I am going to die, just three days before that day, three days before my death, I will not look at the food. You will bring my thali in, and I will start looking in another direction; then you can know that only three days more am I to be here."

That too was not believed; they forgot about it. Then, just three days before Ramkrishna died, he was resting, Sharada brought his thali, his food: he turned over, started looking at the other side. Suddenly the wife realized, remembered. The thali fell from her hands, she started crying. Ramkrishna said, "Don't cry now. Now my work is finished; I need not cling." And exactly after three days he died.

He was clinging in compassion, just trying to create a bondage with one chain. The imprisonment is gone; the prison has disappeared. Out of compassion he was trying to cling, to linger a little longer on this shore, to help those who had gathered around him. But it is difficult to understand a Paramhansa. It is difficult to understand a man who has become a siddha, a Buddha, one who has emptied all his sanchita, all accumulated karmas. It is very difficult. He has no gravitation, so Ramkrishna was clinging to a rock. The rock has gravitation. He was clinging to a rock so that he could linger on this earth a little longer.

When you have samyama, a consciousness fully alert, you can see how much karma is left. It is exactly like when a physician comes and he sees and touches the pulse of a dying man, and he says, "Not more than two, three hours." What is he saying? By long experience he has come to know how the pulse beats when a person is going to die. Exactly that way, a man who is alert knows how much prarabdha is left -- how much pulse -- and he knows when he has to go.

This can be done in two ways. The sutra says either to focus on death, that is prarabdha karma.... "By performing samyama on the two types of karma, active and dormant, or upon omens and portents, the exact time of death can be predicted." This can be done in two ways: either you look at the prarabdha or there are a few omens and portents which can be watched.

For example, before one person dies, almost exactly near about nine months before, something happens. Ordinarily we are not aware, because we are not aware at all, and the phenomenon is very subtle. I say almost nine months because it differs. It depends: the time between the conception and the birth will be the time. If you were born after nine months being in the womb, then nine months. If you were born after being ten months in the womb, then ten months. If you were born after seven months in the womb, then seven months. It depends on the amount of time between the time of conception and birth. Exactly the same time before death, something clicks in the hara, in the navel center. It has to click because between the conception and birth there was a gap of nine months: nine months you took for birth; exactly the same time will be taken for death. As you prepared nine months in the mother's womb for birth, you will have to prepare nine months to die. Then the circle will be complete. Something in the navel center happens. Those who are aware, they will immediately know that something has broken in the navel center; now death is coming closer. Approximately nine months.

Or for example, there are other omens and other portents. A man, before he dies, exactly six months before he dies, becomes by and by incapable of seeing the tip of his own nose because eyes start turning upwards, very slowly. In death they turn completely upwards, but they start the turning, the returning journey, before death. That happens: when a child is born, the child takes almost six months, that is usually -- there may be exceptions -- the child takes six months to have fixed eyes. Otherwise the eyes are loose. That's why children can bring both their eyes together near the nose, can take them far away to the corners very easily. Their eyes are still loose. The day a child's eyes become fixed: if that day comes after six months or nine months or ten or twelve months, then exactly the same will be the time; again the eyes will start becoming loose and moving upwards. That's why in India villagers say -- they must have come to know from yogis -- that before a man dies he becomes incapable of seeing the tip of his own nose.

And there are many methods in which yogis continuously watch the tip of their nose. They concentrate on it. People who have been concentrating on it, suddenly one day realize they cannot see their own nose. Now they know the death is approaching near.

According to yoga physiology there are seven centers in man. The first, the genital organs; and the last is sahasrar, in the head; between these two there are five others. Whenever you die, you die from a particular center. That shows your growth that you have been doing in this life. Ordinarily, people die through the genital organ, because the whole life people live around the sex center, continuously thinking of sex, fantasizing about sex, doing everything about sex -- as if the whole of life seems to be centered around the sex center. These people die through the sex center. If you have evolved a little and you have attained to love, gone beyond sex, then you will die from the heart center. If you have evolved completely, if you have become a siddha, you will die from the sahasrar.

The center you will die from will have an opening because the whole life energy will be released from there....

Just a few days before, Vipassana died. Her brother Viyogi was asked to hit her head; that has become symbolic in India. When a person dies and is put on the funeral pyre, the head has to be hit. Just symbolic, because if the person has attained to the ultimate, then the head will break on its own; but the person has not attained. But we hope and pray, and break the skull.

The point of release becomes open. This point can be seen. Some day or other, when Western medical science will become aware of yoga physiology, this also will become part of all postmortems -- how the person died. Just now they see only whether he died naturally or was poisoned or killed or committed suicide -- all ordinary things. The most basic thing they miss, which has to be there on the report -- how the person died: from the sex center, from the heart center, or from sahasrar -- from where he died. And there is a possibility -- and yogis have done much work on it -- it can be seen in the body because that particular center breaks, as if an egg has broken and something has gone out of it.

When somebody who has attained to samyama becomes, just three days before he dies, aware from what center he is going to move, almost always he moves from sahasrar. A certain activity, a movement, just at the top of the head starts working three days before one dies.

These indications can prepare you how to receive death, and if you know how to receive death in a great celebration, in great joy, in delight -- almost dancing and in ecstasy -- you will not be born again. Your lesson is complete. You have learned whatsoever was to be learned here on this earth; now you are ready to move beyond for a greater mission, for a greater life, for more unlimited life. Now you are ready to be absorbed by the cosmos, by the whole. You have earned it.

One thing more about this sutra. The kriyaman karma, the day to-day karma, is just a very small fragment; in modern psychological terms we can call it the "conscious." Below it is prarabdha; in modern psychological terms we can call it the "subconscious." Even below that is sanchita; in modern psychological terms we can call it the "unconscious."

Ordinarily, you are not aware of your day-to-day activities, so how can you be aware of prarabdha or sanchita? Impossible. So start by becoming aware of day-to-day activities. Walking on the road, be alert. Eating your food, be alert. Remain watchful of what you are doing. Remain with the activity. Don't go here and there. Don't do things like a zombie. Don't move as if you are in deep hypnosis. Whatsoever you are saying, say everything fully alert, so that you are not going to repent ever.

When you say, "I am sorry. I said something which I never wanted to say," that simply shows you were asleep, not aware. When you say, "I did something, I don't know why and how. I don't know how it happened. I have done it in spite of myself," then remember, you worked asleep. You are a somnambulist walking in sleep.

Make yourself more and more alert. That is the meaning of being here-now. Right now you are listening to me: you can be just the ears. Right now you are seeing me: you can be just the eyes, fully alert, not even a thought passing through your mind, no disturbance, no cloudiness inside. Just focused on me -- totally listening, totally seeing -- being with me herenow: that is the first step.

If you attain to that, the second step becomes available; then you can move into the subconscious. Then when somebody insults you, you will not become aware only when you become angry. You will become aware immediately somebody has insulted -- there, a certain anger has moved into the subconscious depth of your being, just a small wave, very subtle. If you are not very sensitive and aware, you will not know it -- unless it erupts into the conscious you will not know it. By and by you will become aware of subtle nuances, subtle shades of emotions -- that is prarabdha, the subconscious.

When you become aware of the subconscious, another step will become available to you. The more you grow, the more growth becomes possible to you. You will be able to see, now, the third step, the final step, of becoming aware of sanchita, the accumulated past. Once you move into the unconscious -- that means you are taking the light of consciousness into the deepest core of your being -- you will become enlightened. That is the meaning of becoming a Buddha -- nothing is in the dark now. Every nook and corner is lighted. Then you live, you act, but you don't accumulate any karma.