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THE ART OF DYING OR THE #ARTOFLIVING

**You really loved my way of expression, and this one is dedicated to you Rajdeep**


In his early 40’s, he had accomplished it all. Professional success, a whole bunch of accolades, recognitions under his name, a reputed teacher, a poet, a family man, the healthiest of mind, body, and soul I have ever witnessed on earth. Looking at him, he inspired many of us to up our game, strive to be The Alpha, and rule the world. A certified diver, an excellent swimmer, left us appalled when the news surfaced that the high tides of Bali, Indonesia swallowed him while trying to save his kids in the water.

Exactly a month back, I lost a dear friend, my industry mentor, confidant, and guide Rajdeep Chatterjee to nature’s fury.

This moment of desolation & grief, sewed us (all who worked with him in past) together once again like he himself always did. But more to it was, it left me with a few questions about life itself! · What purpose does it serve to endeavor to be excellent all the time when it may all disappear so suddenly? · Who do I really want to be? · My achievements suddenly may stop being relevant (for except a handful), with me not around! How do I preserve my memorability after me? · The warrior that he was, what would be his state of mind when he would be battling the high tides before he gave up?


These thoughts were weakening. The more I thought of it, the more I felt my stomach churn. Serendipity you may call it. I was heading for an 11-day silent meditation, a digital detox at Vipassana immediately then and these were a few questions I carried with me to ponder over, seeking answers!

All good things are never meant to be easy, like this one. A much-disciplined life that it was there, waking up at 4 am meditating through the whole day till 9 pm, ensured we’ve worked hard enough to earn every meal there-in. Rest apart, spending alone time with our minds was one of the most dreadful things people could indulge in. And that’s what happened to me too. Most of the time the answers we seek from the world outside, is within ourselves; just that we are neither willing nor courageous enough to face our true selves within.

That little voice inside us that nudges us every now and then, claims our attention to the situation that has been bothering us. But what do we do instead? End up increasing the television volume, calling a friend, stepping out to socialize, etc. Putting an analogy across. It’s like a child craving for attention from his parents who are busy fighting among themselves. He pulls on the edge of his mom’s dress and dad’s trousers, throwing tantrums on the floor, doing everything possible to get their mind-space, but fails miserably.

This is usually the state of our mind. Craving our attention!

Alternatively, if the parents extend their attention to the child that he has been wanting all this while, the child flourishes in joy. After sharing his immediate bit, when he still continues to get undivided attention, that’s when pure happiness overtakes him. He observes his parents watch him play. He relishes their company. He lets down his guards now. He is more willing to listen, adhere to and comply with all that is said to him thereon. Taking it back to our mind, when we spare our sacred lone time with ourselves (meditate), our mind becomes more joyous, happy, relieved, free of negative thoughts, gains sharper focus, and concentration becomes easier, which increases overall productivity.

#Vipassana proposes living the truth of this present moment, moment to moment, and realizing its “Anichya” (Impermanent). Just by being an Observer of this moment, and not reacting, we prevent ourselves from grave miseries that are attached to it (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, societal, and other deeper layers that arise from their interactions). Not only that, but it also helps build our perseverance, and patience towards distraction (bodily, emotionally, psychologically, etc) witnessing them pass by without indulging in it.

Our subconscious mind which is in constant touch with the conscious mind feeds on the bodily sensations (arising from the six senses), very subtle to notice. The cognitive part of the brain then ascertains them as cravings or aversions based on our past “sankharas” (behavior patterns), one giving rise to the other as we choose to react to it. These “sankharas” play an important role in our lives and even in the next one. Vipassana teaches us to identify and observe these sensations without engaging with them, thus breaking the chain of misery that follows.

The evening discourse every day was more than an intellectual banter. Not only did it help improve the techniques of meditation, it also helped answer my questions.

I realized, that maintaining equanimity (no reactions) across all situations was/is the key to liberation. Like these tiny moments, we beings were/are impermanent ourselves. In spite of knowing that, our biggest fear was/is ‘being forgotten’. In this effort to make the contraries meet, we continue to strive at all possible levels trying to make our presence felt, our contributions valued, and our efforts acknowledged at every step. Working professionals do so by trying to add value to complex tasks at hand, while home-makers strive to do so by taking care of their dear ones.

This craving itself becomes a cause of misery among many men/women.

Understanding that life itself is the most valuable thing you could ever have, is the starting point to realizing what really can be termed as valuable. Taking an upward spin from here: Enabling this life onto others may then seems to be an obvious extension of your life. “Rubbing off life onto others” as it may be called, doing things that improve the quality of life of others may then become a natural goal to seek. Some call it “life-purpose” while others have a “calling” for it. This may be accomplished by a tactical or strategic means of your choice: your profession, your social engagements, your passions, etc. people find different ways to engage in it. The bottom line is relooking at what we really chase in life! Relooking at what we really want to become in life would be the key to overcoming the fear of being forgotten.

Does it tie back to the Hindu belief of “karmas”? Maybe YES.

Does it roll in the philosophy of Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret” where your thoughts become your actions and your reality? Maybe YES.

So do most dogmas have a similar underlying belief? Maybe YES. It’s just high time that we start seeing them all through the right lens and start seeing the commonality in them. Emphasis on the ‘what’ than the ‘how’.

Ever witnessed the sense of self-actualization when you gave away your old clothes to an NGO or donated a meal at an old age home or sponsored the education of a child? Felt your heart pump a little more, felt yourself livelier? People who volunteer to donate their organs after death have a similar motive, extending their live-ability, their memorability! Like my mother did.

The “sankharas” of such a person go through an evolution, and he starts observing things ‘As Is’, instead of taking them as positive or negative situations in life. This equanimity, this patience, perseverance, and strength which gets built becomes a new ‘sankhara’ itself. We keep gathering and building these characteristics over our lifetime. All along with life, it was the body influencing the mind (through its sensations), and at the time of death, it’s the mind that influences the matter. At this critical juncture, the most rigid & prominent sankhara get carried over to the next life form. The last thoughts of the person become an important characteristic of his new life.

The Art of Dying comes from the Art of Living.

A quote by Sun Tzu from the Art of War reverberates “Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Soldiers when in desperate straits lose their sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge they will stand firm. If there is no help, they will fight hard till the last breath.”

You will be missed Rajdeep. A true soldier you were, maybe not in uniform, but in form. You will continue to be a fighter always, wherever you go. I have an intuition I will meet you again in this life. I may be 60, 70, or even 80, but dance is still pending, and coffee is still due.

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