Preface: I could quote scripture at many points in support of what I’m about to say, but I’m not going to. Why? Because deriving authority by quoting “holy books” is an effort to prevent people from arguing with you; I think it’s unfair. I believe we’re never really comfortable until we have figured out, and put to rest, the riddle of our own mortality, which we experience like this: In our heads, we know that any one of us can die at any moment, ie. we are mortal. But in our heart of hearts, each of us thinks: it can’t happen to me ie. I am immortal.
Each of us deals with this riddle or paradox in different ways. A few of us do it by never thinking about it, as though it’s unimportant or irrelevant. Many of us like to take on faith the views of death offered by our own religions, or other religions, or by a guru like Rajneesh. A few may modify these given views in little ways to suit their personal beliefs.
I for one have dealt with the paradox like a dog with a bone: (a) I have never stopped gnawing at it, although I’m pretty sure there’s nothing more left for me there (b) I show interest but total scepticism towards anything other than my bone, especially mainstream beliefs.
What I have come to believe turns a lot of conventional views on their head. To sum it up:
1) What we all instinctively feel — “I am immortal, and yet everybody else is mortal” is 100% correct. Each of us is immortal, and yet others are mortal. We are all “I”. There is no second person “you” and third-person “he, she, it, they”; they are illusory. Therefore “I” always exists and will always exist, even if the world comes to an end.
2) (a) If the outer world is correct and factual, I am an entity that did not exist until 40 years ago (when I was born) and I am an entity that will cease to exist after another 40 or fifty years. However, the outer world has been in existence in its present form for billions of years, and will go on for billions of years before the sun explodes, planet earth vaporizes etc. If you take all its forms, the outer world is eternal and infinite, without beginning or end in time or space.
(b) On the other hand, if my inner world is correct, the outer world came into existence when I became aware of it (jab maine hosh sambhala) and will cease to exist when I lose consciousness. In fact, it ceases to exist every night when I sleep, and resumes its existence in a logical way when I wake up every morning. Also, if my inner world is correct, I was never born (because I have no recollection of a beginning) and will never die (because, no matter what my head may say, I feel eternal, immortal).
Actually, both the above are perfectly correct and factual. We don’t have to choose between our inner and the outer worlds. Arguments arise only because person A addresses person B as you and thinks of him as “The Other”, and because person A addresses the world as “it” and “they”. The Other is an illusion; The Other doesn’t exist. There is no Other, there is no “you” or “they” or “it”, it is all “I”.
Conclusion: I’ll quote a hindi film song: Mujhko dekhoge jahan tak, mujhko paoge vahan tak, raaste se kaarvan tak, yeh zameense aasman tak… Main hi main hoon, main hi main hoon, doosra loi nahin!