The Sunlit Path|Mar 10, 2008 9:56 AM| by:

Decay and Death

mother balcony

From times immemorial, one of the dreams and aspirations of humankind has been for the conquest of death, for immortality. Very often this is because of an attachment to life, a feeling of a great loss, a fear of the unknown and what happens after death. For a few others there is a feeling that death is necessary, for otherwise one would just get weaker and more and more useless with increasing old age, and live a completely miserable life.

The question naturally arises:

Question: If we did not die, with age would not our bodies become useless? Can this law be at all changed? If so, how? Can the body itself last and aspire to immortality?
Here is the Mother’s beautiful and inspiring answer, an invitation and a call to all of us for manifesting progressive harmony, for endless progress towards perfection, for lasting immortality.

Death is only a Habit of Nature

Ah! No. You are looking from the wrong side. They could escape dying only if their body did not decay. It is just because their body decays that they die. It is because their body becomes useless that they die. If they are not to die, their body should not become useless. This is just the contrary. It is precisely because the body decays, declines and ends in a complete degradation that death becomes necessary. But if the body followed the progressive movement of the inner being, if it had the same sense of progress and perfection as the psychic being, there would be no necessity for it to die.

One year added to another need not bring a deterioration. It is only a habit of Nature. It is only a habit of what is happening at this moment. And that is exactly the cause of death. One can foresee quite well, on the contrary, that the movement for perfection which is at the beginning of life might continue under another form. I have already told you that one does not foresee an uninterrupted growth, for that would need changing the height of the houses after some time! But this growth in height may be changed into a growth in perfection: the perfection of the form. All the imperfections of the form may be gradually corrected, all the weaknesses replaced by strength, all the incapacities by skill. Why should it not be like this? You do not think in that way because you have the habit of seeing things otherwise. But there is no reason why this should not happen.

The Wonder of the Palm Tree

Have you ever seen a tree growing, a palm tree? There is one in the Ashram courtyard, in the Samadhi courtyard, quite close to the door by which you come up every day, have you never seen how it grows? This tree, you know, is some forty, forty five or fifty years old perhaps. You see how small it is. These trees can become even much taller than the building. They can live several hundred years, easily, in their natural state, if there is no accident. Have you never seen what it does? I see it from above. It is quite pretty.

It happens once a year. At first, you see a kind of small brown ball. Then this small brown ball begins to grow and becomes slightly lighter in colour, less deep. Little by little, you see that it is made of a mass of somewhat complex small lines, with their tips bent inward, as though turned back upon themselves; and that begins to grow, it comes out, becomes more and more limpid, until it begins to turn green, a little pale yellowish green and it takes the form of the bishop’s cross. Then you see it multiplying and separating; it is yet a little brown, a little queer (almost like you), something like a caterpillar. And suddenly, it is as though it sprang out, it leaps forth. It is pale green; it is frail. It has a delightful colour. It lengthens out. This lasts for a day or two; and then on the following day there are leaves. These leaves I have never counted, I do not know how many they are. Every time there is a new range of leaves. They remain very pale; they are exquisite. They are like a little child, with that something tender, pretty and graceful a child has. And you have still the feeling that it is fragile; and indeed, if it receives a blow, it is spoilt for life. It is very frail, but it is delightfully tender. It has its charm and you say: “But why does not Nature remain like that?” The following morning… pluff! they are separated, they are bright green, they look wonderful with all the strength and force of youth, a magnificent brilliant green. It should stop there—not at all. It continues.

Then comes the dust, the deterioration from people who pass by. So it begins to fall, to become yellowish, another kind of yellow, the yellow of dryness until it is completely withered and falls away. It is replaced by the trunk. Every year the trunk increases a little. And it will take several hundred years to reach the end. But every year, it repeats the same thing, passes through all the stages of beauty, charm, attractiveness and you say: “But why does it not stop there?” And the next minute, it is something else. You cannot say it is better, but it is different. And so it passes from one thing to another through all the stages of flowering. Then the accidents begin; with the accidents comes deterioration, and with deterioration there is death.

Harmony in the Body and in the Character

It is like that. But accidents are not indispensable. And even what looks like death helps in the growth of the tree. One sheds off something, but it’s in order to grow again and have something more. One must be able to keep the harmony and the beauty till the end. There is no reason why one should have a body which has no longer any purpose in being, in existing; because it would no longer be good for anything. To be no longer good for anything, that is exactly what makes it disappear. One could have a body that grows from perfection to perfection. There are many things in the body that make you say: “Ah, if it were like that! Ah, I would like it to be thus!” (I am not speaking of your character, for there are so many things that need changing; I am speaking only of your physical appearance). You see some disharmony somewhere and you say: “If this disharmony disappeared, how much better would it be!”… But why don’t you think that it could be done?

If you look at yourself in quite an objective way—not with that sort of attachment one has for one’s little person, but quite objectively—you look at yourself as you would look at another person and tell yourself: “But this thing is not altogether in harmony with that”, and if you look yet more closely, it becomes very interesting: you discover that this disharmony is the expression of a defect in your character. It is because in your character there is something a bit twisted, not quite harmonious, and in your body this is reproduced somewhere. You try to arrange it in your body and you find out that to get back to the source of this physical disharmony, you have to find out the defect in your inner being. And then you begin to work and the result is obtained.

You don’t know to what an extent the body is plastic! From another standpoint, I would say it is terribly rigid and that is why the body deteriorates. But that is because we do not know how to make use of it. We do not know, when we are still fresh like little leaves, how to will for a luxuriant, magnificent, faultless flowering. And instead of telling oneself with a somewhat miserable look: “It is a pity my arms are too thin or my legs are too long or my back is not straight or my head is not quite harmonious”, if one said: “It must be otherwise, my arms must be proportionate, my body harmonious, every form in me must express a higher beauty”, then one will succeed.

And you will succeed if you know how to do it with the true will that is persistent, tranquil, that is not impatient, does not care for appearances of defeat, continues its work quietly, very quietly, continues to will that it be so, to look for the inner reason, to discover it, to work with energy. Immediately, as soon as you see a little black worm somewhere, which does not look pretty and makes a small rather unpleasant, disgusting stain, you pick it up, pull it out and throw it away and put a lovely light in its place. And after a time you discover: “Why! That disharmony I had in my face is disappearing; that sign of brutality, unconsciousness which was in my expression, it is going away.” And then ten years later you don’t recognise yourself any longer.

The Possibility of Immortality

You are all, here, youthful matter; you must know how to profit by it—and not for petty, selfish and stupid reasons but for the love of beauty, for the need of harmony.

If the body is to last, it must not deteriorate. There must not be any decay. It must win on one side: it must be a transformation, it must not be a decay. With decay there is no possibility of immortality.

The Mother