Reincarnation, Death & Birth
Thus Spake Nisargadatta Maharaj, Quotes from 'I am That'

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  1. It is in the nature of consciousness to survive its vehicles. It is like fire. It burns up the fuel, but not itself. Just like a fire can outlast a mountain of fuel, so does consciousness survive innumerable bodies. (327)

  2. You make yourself mortal by taking yourself to be the body. (363)

  3. You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom. (362)

  4. I am dead already. Physical death will make no difference in my case. I am timeless being. I am free of desire or fear, because I do not remember the past, or imagine the future. Where there are no names and shapes, how can there be desires andfear? With desirelessness comes timelessness. I am safe, because what is not cannot touch what is. You feel unsafe, because you imagine danger. Of course, your body as such is complex and vulnerable and needs protection. But not you. Once you realize your own unassailable being, you will be at peace. (260)

  5. What is birth and death but the beginning and the ending of a stream of events in consciousness? (147)

  6. [When an ordinary man dies] according to his belief it happens. As life before death is but imagination, so is life after. The dream continues. The gnani does not die because he was never born. (261)

  7. When somebody dies, nothing happens. Something becomes nothing. Nothing was, nothing remains. (91)

  8. Only the dead can die, not the living. That which is alive in you is immortal. (407)

  9. It is the changing that dies. The immutable neither lives nor dies; it is the timeless witness of life and death. You cannot call it dead, for it is aware. Nor can you call it alive, for it does not change. (433)

  10. Nothing dies. The body is just imagined. There is no such thing. (361)

  11. In reality there is no killing and no dying. The real does not die, the unreal never lived. (234)

  12. I am told I was born. I do not remember. I am told I shall die. I do not expect it. You tell me I have forgotten or I lack imagination. But I just cannot remember what never happened, nor expect the patently impossible. Bodies are born and bodies die, but what is it to me? Bodies come and go in consciousness, and consciousness itself has its roots in me. I am life, and mine are mind and body. (94)

  13. You can't help surviving! The real you is timeless and beyond birth and death. And the body will survive as long as it is needed. It is not important that it should live long. A full life is better than a long life. (315)

  14. Misery is to be born, not to die. (181)

  15. I do not look at death as a calamity, as I do not rejoyce a the birth of a child. The child is out for trouble, while the dead is out of it. Attachment to life is attachment to sorrow. We love what gives pain. Such is our nature. (418)

  16. In some cases death is the best cure. A life may be worse than death, which is but rarely an unpleasant experience, whatever the appearances. (283-4)

  17. The more you know yourself, the less you are afraid [of dying]. Of course, the agony of dying is never pleasant to look at, but the dying man is rarely conscious. (469)

  18. It [dying] needn't be so [painful and ugly]. It may be beautiful and peaceful. Once you know that death happens to the body and not to you, you just watch your body falling off like a discarded garment. Once you know that the body alone dies and not the continuity of memory and the sense of "I am" reflected in it, you are afraid no longer. (464-5)

  19. To be a living being is not the ultimate state; there is something beyond, much more wonderful, which is neither being nor non-being, neither living nor not-living. It is a state of pure awareness, beyond the limitations of space and time. Once the illusion that the body-mind is oneself is abandoned, death loses its terror, it becomes a part of living. (122)

  20. One who believes himself as having been born is very much afraid of death. On the other hand, to him who knows himself truly, death is a happy event. (383)

  21. [If I heard that you had died,] I would be very happy to have you back home. Really glad to see you out of this foolishness, of thinking that you were born and will die, that you are a body displaying a mind and all such nonsense. In my world, nobody is born and nobody dies. Some people go on a journey and come back, some never leave. What difference does it make since they travel in dreamlands, each wrapped up in his own dream. Only the waking is important. It is enough to know the "I am" as reality and also love. (182)

  22. Nothing wrong [with suicide], if it solves the problem. What if it does not? Suffering caused by extraneous factors -some painful and incurable disease, or unbearable calamity- may provide some justification, but where wisdom and compassion are lacking, suicide cannot help. A foolish death means foolishness reborn. Besides there is the question of karma to consider. Endurance is usually the wisest course. (464)

  23. Nobody can compel anothere to live. Besides, there were cultures in which suicide had its acknowledged and respected place. There is noble virtue in unshakable endurance of whatever comes, but there is also dignity in the refusal of meaningless torture and humiliation. (471)

  24. One does not become a disciple by conversion, or by accident. There is usually an ancient link, maintained through many lives and flowering as love and trust. (460)

  25. The memory of the past unfulfilled desires traps energy, which manifests itself as a person. When its charge gets exhausted, the person dies. Unfulfilled desires are carried over into the next birth. I do not say that the same person is reborn. It dies and dies for good. But its memories remain and their desires and fears. They supply the energy for a new person. The real takes no part in it, but makes it possible by giving it the light. (381)

  26. There is no compulsion [to be reborn]. You get what you want. You make your own plans and you carry them out. We grow through investigation, and to investigate we need experience. We tend to repeat what we have not understood. (465)

  27. It [death] is very much like sleep. For a time, the person is out of focus and then it returns. The person, being a creature of circumstances, necessarily changes along with them, like the flame that changes with the fuel. Only the process goes on and on, creating time and space. (469)

  28. You may believe in whatever you like [about reincarnation] and, if you act on your belief, you will get the fruits of it. But for me it has no importance. I am what I am, and this is enough for me. I have no desire to identify myself with anybody, howere illustrious. Nor do I feel the need to take myths for reality. (505)

  29. The question of resistance [to reincarnation] does not arise. What is born and reborn is not you. Let it happen, watch it happen. (469)

  30. Reincarnation implies a reincarnating self. There is no such thing. The bundle of memories and hopes, called the "I", imagines itself existing everlastingly and creates time to accomodate its false eternity. To be, I need no past or future. All experience is born of imagination; I do not imagine, so no birth or death happens to me. Only those who think themselves born can think themselves re-born . All exists in awareness, and awareness neither dies nor is re-born. It is the changeless reality itself. (262)

  31. When the body is no more, the person disappears completely without return, only the witness remains and the Great Unknown. (400)