A dear friend of mine has the Sanskrit word Mrityunjai tattooed across his left chest. The word means “victorious over death.” This friend is a true yogi, someone who has faced death, and knows for himself that death does not exist. We met after he’d had a bone marrow transplant due to a second episode of cancer. Now, 10 years later, he’s in a third episode, once again being forced to go farther and look deeper into living than most of us ever have to do. It’s as if he’s destined to be God-realized in this lifetime, whether he chooses to or not!
This word Mrityunjai gets to the heart of the most esoteric and spiritual message of yoga: You are Ever-Present. Of course this does not mean that our bodies won’t die. Everything in this changing world must continue to change. Doing yoga poses, practicing breath work and eating a vegetarian diet makes you healthier. It can also possibly extend your lifespan, but it is in meditation and self-inquiry that the profoundest meaning of yoga is known.
In meditation you simply sit, with your eyes closed. At first you only see the changes in your mind, but after settling into stillness you start to witness the ever-present space of being in you. This unchanging space is always there when you meditate. Behind the colourful and varying imagination and memory of your fantastic mind, this formless space of awareness is always there, waiting for you to notice its subtle existence. This subtlest space is your eternal being. This pure presence is the base of your existence and what you were before you were born, who you are now, and who you will be once your body has lived its years.
The miracle of this space is that it can be known to you immediately. Right now, know that the purest sense you have of who you call ‘I’, is this pure space of being. Normally, you automatically associate this ‘I’ with your name, your body, your status and a thousand other qualifications. But if you meditate on the words “I am I”, then you will come closer to realizing that you are this subtlest space of pure being. In deep meditation, when your mind has become still, you’ll witness that the purity of your real being exists.
It’s incredible that we assume to fear death so much. Of course, we see bodies dying and passing away, but we really don’t have any direct proof that the existence of a person is extinguished. We see a body die, but is a person just their body? This begins the inquiry into who a person is, who you are. Meditators ask themselves, “Am I just this body?” Intuitively, some of us realize that we are more than this.
You might say there is also no proof that life doesn’t die, but there is proof. The direct experience of countless visionaries coming to know in their own awareness that life is one, eternal, immortal, ever-present, and pure existence. These true sages have spoken to people in all cultures, in all centuries. Their message is simple: “Know that you are pure and free forever. Do not have any fear due to an idea of death. You are immortal and blissful.”
This is the message for my dear friend, who will never die. And for all my dear friends who desire freedom.