Accepting Death

Few weeks back, I had a minor bike accident, but escaped with minor bruises as I was wearing helmet and gloves. It could have been worse. Last month we visited my In Laws and my Father who has Parkinson’s disease. He is much worse than before, a condition in which I feel death might be a relief.

I often ponder over death, it plays into my world view quite often. Perhaps because in my day job of investing in Startups, mortality is built into the model. About half the companies we invest in fail to produce returns, but the timing of their death varies. Some shutdown within 1-2 years as the product didn’t find acceptance, some over many years after struggling to find a fit. Some also experience sudden deaths due to teams breaking up or financial mismanagement. Recently, one of our portfolio companies filed for Bankruptcy. Though it had a great team and interesting product for its market, it had been struggling for some time. Few opportunities to get acquired didn’t pan out and eventually it ran out of money.

I have been listening this song, Nirbhau, Nirvair, based on Sant Kabir’s poems (video below). It has made me introspect further on how can one accept their mortality. Not in a way where one becomes despondent and detached from life. But with Joie de vivre, with a zest for life, living it to one’s best potential. It is much easier said than done given the vagaries or life, both societal and personal.

What must one do then?

My translated interpretation..

Aisi marni jo marey
Bahuri na marna hoye
Kabira marta marta jag mua
Mar bhi na jaane koye

In such a way die
My friend so die you not again
Kabir says world is full of death
But none know how to die

Kya jaane kive marange
Kaisa marna hoye
Jekar sahib manno na visre
Taa sehela marna hoye…

Who knows how we perish
But how must be the death?
If merged with the Self
One passes on in contentment

Kitte turda lambda phirda
Saaya naal sahib da
Jeen toh pehla mukda kyun ae,
Judne se zada tutda?

Why wander and search
When the One is with one
Why turn away before living
Break away more than merge

Har dhuni gao nirbhau nirvair
Har dhuni sun nirgun nirvair

Each note sung without fear, without hate
Each note heard pure, with malice towards none

Payr-lambi nikki chadra
Kaffan me poora dhakkna
Jo bhi khaya woh tha apna
Baaki sab Ahmad Shah da

Feet long, quilt small
Shroud covers though
What one consume’s theirs
Rest is for the powers that be

Sapne tu jhoote chakhda firda
Shahad wi khata lagda
Jeen toh pehla mukda kyun ae,
Judne se zada tutda?

Feasting on false dreams
Honey will also seems sour
Why turn away before living
Break away more than merge

Har dhun gao nirgun
Every note Sing to the Infinite

A realisation has started to emerge, that if one truly aspires for contentment – then they must die.  Acceptance of mortality, dissolution of ego, letting go of any semblance of permanence is the first step. One must chip away at this illusion. Without Fear.  Once that acceptance starts to assimilate in one’s being, it can be truly liberating.  Not in the sense of careless or nihilistic approach to existence, but of a momentous wonder.

Perhaps by accepting death is default, living could become limitless. 

The handicaps, the challenges, the slights, the games, all become part of the whole. One can move on experience existence as it comes, in each moment, attempt to live in harmony with the Universe. For some it may be a sudden, cataclysmic realisation and nothing will be ever the same again. For others, it may take time, perhaps lifetimes, like the river of life cutting through the gorges of fear. And that is alright.

But try we must my brothers and sisters, on this journey, one must find their own path.

Nirvair” from the Mool Mantra by Guru Nanak, My understanding has somewhat enhanced from a decade ago. I believe it to now mean “malice towards none” including the love for the Self. It is only through letting go of all animosity, all hate and spite, one can perhaps find contentment.

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