Death is the only certainty. It can happen anytime. No one can escape it. No one is prepared or ready for it. Face it. Death is real. When you die, you leave your loved ones vulnerable to a lot of unnecessary harassment at the hands of others in the name of rituals and customs, and their own morbid fear of death.
So here’s how I want my death to be handled.
- In my actual moments of dying , I’d love those around me to enter into a meditative silence, becoming aware of the entire process, helping me go with ease and dignity and meditation, rather than hold or clutch on to me and make me upset and harassed in my personal moment. Hey! Just remember I’ve lived a beautiful, blessed life. Let me meet death with gratitude and awareness.
- Once I die, lay my dead body on the floor. Light an earthen lamp, a diya, next to the body, and please maintain your meditative silence. Please don’t chant any mantras or whatever. Just encounter my dying moments keeping yourself fully awake, aware, meditative, and available totally to the moment. Keep your interrupting cellphones and personal gadgets switched off please.
- Usually, it takes several hours for close friends and relatives to gather. But let them not come to mourn. Hire some bhangra-dhol players, or a DJ, or play some fantastic dance and celebration music, and invite everyone to join the celebration.
Keep the celebration music flowing, ask people to wear their best clothes. In the gaps hold sessions of sharing jokes and laughter. Intersperse with soft, meditative music from the world of Osho. My loved ones would know my favourites. I wish this to be grand farewell in celebration to all my loved ones. The energy should be so high that it swipes everybody off their feet.
- Dress me in my favourite maroon robe, or whatever I wear for meditation. Remove everything else. Keep my face uncovered at all times.
- Next to me place a printed or hand-calligraphy sign that says: “Reminder: Don’t Escape Your Reality. You Will Die Too.” Add my name, date of birth, and date of death, to the placard.
- In the room where the body lies, tell people to be silent and meditative, and not to disturb the atmosphere or others. Don’t try to chat up others, or avoid witnessing death, by chatting up others who do not wish to avoid witnessing death. Outside, make sure the party and celebration goes higher and higher.
- An hour before going to the cremation grounds, please play my favourite music for me: Kundalini Meditation from Osho. Those who are interested to do Kundalini Meditation can happily join in. Request others not to disturb them, especially during the silent fourth stage.
- When the time comes to go the cremation grounds, use a simple rope to tie the body to the stretcher, for the sole and practical purpose of keeping the body tied to the stretcher. Please don’t use any religious threads, or any other fancy or religious stuff at all. Do not place any garlands or wreaths or bouquets or fancy shawls or anything else. No need to beautify or hide the simple truth of death. Do not hire the services of a priest. No religious chanting of any kind please. Or do anything else which is similar. Don’t even sing or dance. Just carry the body in utter silence and simplicity, without tears or mourning, and while keeping the body’s face uncovered. Take a simple earthen pot that will eventually hold my ashes, and a simple cloth, any will do. No need for any religious markings.
- Pay no heed at all to anyone who says the head should go out first or the feet or whatever. All bullshit to me! Just do what comes naturally. Please don’t take the body to any temple or religious grounds. Just go straight to the cremation grounds. Tell the priest you don’t want any religious ceremony or ritual. Could he just place the body on the funeral pyre, please. That is the first and the last thing he should do.
- Light the pyre in silence and without any religious rituals and chantings. Make this a purely existential moment for me and yourself. No honey, ganga-water, or other rituals. No need to poke the skull with a wooden stick. No idle chit-chat around the pyre please, for the sake of those who wish to totally experience this moment. Just be silent and with yourself.
- Collect the ashes in the urn at your convenience, once the body has burnt completely. Don’t bother about auspicious dates and times. I do not want the ashes thrown into the Ganga or any other river. No religious ceremonies of any kind either. Avoid Haridwar or an equivalent trip.
- Just sprinkle the ashes on any vineyard. Yes! That’s where I come from but you wouldn’t know, and this is my strongest wish. If a vineyard is not available, well, then you can sprinkle them on any vineyard anywhere on this Earth. If that may not be possible for you, explore what is the most ecological and convenient method for you to release the ashes into the environment. Heck! You may even just wash them down the sink or release them into a sea or ocean.
- Pease do not hold or organize any religious discourse at a temple, or a havana anywhere, or shave your heads, or wear white clothes in mourning, or make donations or be forced to make them, or get into anything else that is more dead-ritual to me than death itself. Take it easy.
- Exactly nine days after my death, throw a final, really grand dance celebration for all my loved ones. Bring the best music, the best DJ, lights, live musicians, ask people to come dressed in their finest, and serve the best food and drinks. That’s all. No religious ceremonies in any temple, no speeches, no condolences to be offered or received. Just laugh, dance, and celebrate like there is no tomorrow. There isn’t, actually.
- Maybe some people will trickle in a few days or weeks after the death, to offer condolences to the family. Ask them to come in high spirits and celebrate with them. Just play some lively music, share a few jokes and laughter, or do whatever. If people want to know the exact details of the death, you could play them an audio recording of the chronology of events if you wish. A video would be even better. Or politely hand them a sheet with all the details and ask them to read it later, while requesting them to change the topic. Simple.
- A few seemingly sincere well-wishers may suggest or cajole my loved ones into the importance of some ritual or ceremony. Boldly tell them that I consider what they recommend as total bullshit, as how would they know what they’re saying is true, until they died and experienced it for themselves. As punishment, ask them to share a few jokes with all present, else who knows, I might come back and haunt them for the rest of their lives!
- No need to hold a one-year mourning, or even a one-day mourning. Celebrate all your festivities with grandeur and delight: diwali, holi, birthdays, weddings, or anything else. If you are into giving sweets and gifts on diwali and other functions, go ahead: give and receive. I do not want my family and loved ones to find themselves encumbered by religious and social rituals they have to follow. No need. Live your life to the fullest every moment. You will die too.
Freely distribute this document in advance to people so all know how to respond to this moment and to generally avoid causing any harassment or inconvenience to my family and loved ones.