CHAPTER 10 – Fear of Death
For the existence of an imperishable, immutable substance behind the perishable and the changing as proclaimed by our scriptures–which could be viewed as not a projected wish to subdue our fear of death–the experience of Sri Ramana Maharshi may be adduced as a proof, again a proof not easily verifiable. He had a unique experience very early in his life in which he thought he was going to die. So, he said to himself (he was very young), “I am going to die. Let me lie down on the bed like a dead body.” He had seen how dead bodies are laid out on the floor before they are taken away to the cremation ground. He then closed his eyes. There was no breathing; everything had stopped; there was absolutely no movement.
But then he realized that he was still alive! This was not a mere simulation of death that anyone can resort to by the sheer power of an overactive imagination. He really had a experience of death in the sense that he had actually stopped breathing, there was no movement, and he could see everything that was happening down there. He said, “Now the body is dead; they are going to carry it to the cremation ground.” When he discovered that he was not dead, he thought to himself, “I am still here but that is what death must be like. So, perhaps, there is something which survives after death. Is it physical, is it mental, or is it something beyond both the body and the mind? Is it just the brain that is trying to protect itself or is there an operator for the brain also, for the brain is a very complex computer?”