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How to be liberated while alive? || (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Questioner: What is the difference between death and liberation? How can we be liberated while alive?

Acharya Prashant: These are two very different things in the sense that they happen to different entities.

You are driving your car, and there is a point that you must reach. But you are, as usual, drunk, so you bang the car, and the car is no more in a shape, in a position to move any further. This is death, death of the car; you are just left frustrated. You haven’t died, but it’s just that without the car you belong to nowhere; you cannot move. Somehow your configuration is such that your two legs can be used only to press the accelerator and the clutch and the brake; those legs cannot be used to walk. Somehow that’s the way you are constituted. So, if the car is gone, you are gone, your journey is gone. That’s death, death of the car, and death of the possibility, the potential that you could have reached your destination.

What is liberation? Liberation is when you reach your destination using the car, and having reached your destination using the car, you find the car does not hold the same meaning as it used to. The car was tremendously important as a tool, as a vehicle carrying you to your destination; once the destination is reached, the car becomes quite unimportant. That’s liberation. Now you are liberated from being attached to the car. Now you are liberated from being identified with the car. Liberation belongs to you; death belongs to the car. You are liberated from two things simultaneously: one, distance or separation from the destination; second, confinement to the car. And these two are one and the same thing.

As long as there is separation from the destination, there has to be attachment to the car. These two go hand-in-hand, obviously, because if you are separate from the destination, then you will have to be identified with the car; only then can you reach the destination, right? If you are still away from the point you want to reach, then you better be alert towards the vehicle, no?

Once you de-board the train, how much do you care for your seat? Let’s say you are traveling from Bangalore to Delhi; it’s a long train journey. You have been on that particular seat, B-63, continuously for, let’s say, twenty-five hours now, and you are so particular about that seat, right? Three times in that duration you told others off: “No, please, it’s reserved. Sir, please, can you get up? I want to take a little nap.” And if something falls on your seat, then you would immediately wipe it away. You are doing all those things. And then you reach Delhi and you de-board. Do you even turn back once to look at what happens to that seat now? Have you done that, ever? The seat holds importance and the seat must hold importance as long as you are away from the destination.

If you are not able to achieve the right results with your car and the car reaches its expiry date or becomes dysfunctional due to some accident, then it is called death. Whereas, if you make right use of the car and the other resources available to you and utilize them, channelize them in a way that they serve your purpose, then this victory is called liberation. Death without liberation is obviously a defeat; the entire sense of life has been defeated.

The game begins with the driver and the car, and the game can end in two possible ways: death or liberation. Remember, death or liberation—which means that liberation is freedom from death. Ah! Is that what all the ancients have called as immortality? If there are two possible results only one out of which is death, then the other one means immortality, obviously, no? Is that not the implication? Two results are possible. If one result is mortality, then the other result has to be liberation, which means liberation is freedom from death.

Death occurs only to those who have misutilized their life. Death is only for those who have lost on the tremendous opportunity called life. Those who have lived rightly do not die, ever; they become immortal. Obviously, the body has to die. The question is, does the body die without you having reached the destination, or are you dedicated enough and swift enough and focused enough to quickly reach the destination before the body falls apart? Do we need to tell you which of these results you must aim for?

That’s why the sages told us that the purpose of life is liberation. That’s the result you must expect from life. No other result is worthwhile. If there is no liberation, then the only other possibility is death; which means a lot of achievements without liberation merely mean death; which means a lot of prosperity and prestige without liberation merely means death. So, what do you call all that prosperity and prestige? Death. Any kind of attainment that does not include liberation or that does not lead to liberation is merely death.

So, that’s what you have to decide: what to make of your life? Do you want to bring it to a dead end—a dead end * —or do you want it to reach a point of liberation from all movement, liberation from the vehicle, liberation from the need to move, and even liberation from the destination? Having reached the destination, do you care for the destination anymore? No, you are the destination. You are not * at the destination; now you are the destination. Now you are spared of the agony of worrying even about that ultimate destination. Forget worrying about the little and trivial things of life—now you don’t have to worry even about the ultimate destination.

And the seers have told us about it. They say, “I do not worry even about That. That worries about me now. Having reached the destination, I have crossed over all worries. Forget about me worrying for the car—I do not even worry about the destination anymore. Forget about me worrying about the world—I do not worry about even liberation anymore.”

Tempting, isn’t it? Go for it, or die. No third option.

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