Swami Satchidananda Speaking about Death

Not exactly sure how I came across this video, but I found myself watching it a few times in order to feel what the light hearted Swami is really saying. His words and analogies apply very well to matter and low level quantum type situations, but there is something fundamental that I believe he’s missing here.

Before the critic in me comes out too strong, I highly recommend giving this eight+ minute video a going over. Pay close attention to his words or you may be watching it multiple times like I did.

Without further delay:

I have to admit that I love the hanky display. But he asks a question (at 2:40) while he’s holding up the hanky “where did the knot come from then?” Shortly thereafter, he pulls the knot out of the hanky and asks (3:25) “where did the knot go? And where from it came? Huh?” He pauses and then concludes: “That is death and life.”

In this grand scheme of things, the great yogi states that we don’t really lose anything – stuff just changes form. The tree dies and turns into a chair. Its death comes at the hands of the fire where ashes are born which replenishes the earth where the cycle can continue. This argument revolves around the idea that matter simply changes shape – nothing is really lost.

At 4:50 he states a yogic principle of:

  • Earth to earth
  • Fire to fire
  • Water to water

The idea is what comes from one type of matter goes back to its source. There is nothing lost, but things get transformed along the way until they finally make it back to their original state.

The problem is that (at 4:48) he seems to conclude that “where did you come, you go back to your source” implying that we, too, are simply matter. When we die, we go back to where we came from, but he doesn’t state where, he just seems to know that we follow similar natural laws where nothing is lost, it’s just transformed.

But let’s look back at the question this swami posed about the knot in the hanky: “where did the knot come from then?”

I believe that this is where the swami’s simple argument about life and death falls apart. The knot was created through conscious intent but it is no more alive than the hanky!

When something is alive, it has consciousness. When something is alive, the spirit is linked to the matter in such a way that the consciousness gains experience. Life and death are relative to the means by which the conscious spirit is linked to matter in order to gain sensual experiences. The life cycle and conscious understanding of a tree is different than a rock. You may not be sensitive enough to feel the life spirit that dwells in a rock or in a tree, but I’m pretty sure you could sense the life spirit that dwells in a dog or cat.

As the Swami speaks, he seems to lead the listener to believe that death is just a transformation of matter. I would contend that death is the point where consciousness severs its link to matter. At that point you could say “spirit to spirit” but that might be a little harder for him to speak about in an eight minute video.

So, I guess I disagree with this swami – as he speaks in this video. Life is the act of spirit interacting consciously with matter. Death is the point where the spirit can no longer interact – the bond has been broken.

Life and death also come with varying degrees of intensity. When an animal dies, it is clear that consciousness leaves quickly. When a tree dies, it may take a long time to notice. When water dies, could you even tell?

If the knot where conscious, I would have felt something for it when the swami pulled it apart. But, it is not. The matter making up the hanky has some very small sense of life, but the consciousness is too low to be commonly considered alive. If he were to burn the hanky, it would have most likely freed the last remaining spirit it held – in which case, it probably would have stirred some emotion in the viewer.

So, the next time someone talks that death is a simple transformation of matter, correct them by bringing in consciousness.

Life is precious. Life is a conscious experience. Make it everything you want it to be!

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