The Thought of Death

Annamalai Swami: You should trust the Guru because his interest is in showing you the truth. He may occasionally say things that are not true, but he will say them only because he knows his words will push you in the right direction.

I once heard a story that illustrates this. A rich man used to meditate once in a while. He had a Guru, an enlightened man, who used to tell him, 'You are not the mind or the body. You are the Self. Always abide as the Self.'

The man would listen attentively, but neither his meditation nor his Guru's words had much of an effect on him.

One day he approached his teacher and said, 'You have been telling me for years that I am not the mind and the body, and that I am the Self. I believe it and I meditate on this, but I don't see any changes in myself. This must be a very difficult technique because I don't seem to be making any progress with it.’

The Guru said, 'Let me look at your palm. I may be able to see something that is more suitable for you.’

After examining the disciple's palm, the Guru's face dropped. ‘This is very bad! You should have put in more effort earlier in your Iife; I can see that you only have about one week to live.
There's not much that can help you now.’

The disciple was shocked. He went home thinking, 'All my wealth and businesses are useless to me now. I put too much time into them, and not enough into my spiritual practice.
There's nothing I can do now, but I can at least my last few days meditating.’

He went home and told his wife, 'My life is coming to an end. My Guru has warned me that this is my final week. I am going to spend my last few days meditating alone. Please tell my friends and relatives that I don't want to be disturbed.' bed.'
After a few days, his Guru came to see how he was getting on. 'How's the meditation going?' he asked. 'Your wife tells me that you have done nothing else for days’

'Gurudev, there is no one left to meditate. I have found the
peace you have been talking about all these years.'

The Guru knew that this man would never focus full-time on realizing the Self because he was too caught up with his family and his business affairs. By making him think that his death was imminent, he made him concentrate on what was real and important. And it worked.

This is not just a story; it is a tactic that will work for anyone.
If you can withdraw energy from your worldly attachments and instead focus full-time on the Self, you will soon get results.

If you are having trouble with your enthusiasm for sadhana, just tell yourself, 'I may be dead in seven days'. Let go of all the things that you pretend are important in your daily life and instead focus on the Self for twenty-four hours a day.

Do it and see what happens.

- p. 86