A man looking at a gravestone in a field

Are you prepared to die? What should you do if you hope to experience a “good death” one day?

Regardless of your age, death is in your future. That’s not something to dread, but it’s something you can and should prepare for. That’s the view of spiritual teacher Sadhguru, who discusses dying well in his book Death: An Inside Story.

Continue reading for Sadhguru’s insights on how to prepare for death.

Preparing for Death

Overcoming your fear of death and acknowledging its inevitability will significantly improve your life. Sadhguru notes that increasing your awareness of death has another equally important purpose: motivating you to prepare for it.

Sadhguru’s advice on how to prepare for death includes his explanation of which part of death you need to prepare for and why. Then, he offers several tips you can follow to increase your odds of dying well.

Why You Should Prepare for Death

Sadhguru asserts that your state of mind at the moment of death has an enormous influence on your afterlife experience.

When you die, most of the karma that makes up your worldly self is destroyed. However, according to Sadhguru, the karma that creates your illusory self while you’re alive is powerful enough to influence the part of you made of life energy that persists after you die. Thus, after death, most people are still convinced that they’re a separate entity rather than one with everything.

Sadhguru explains that dead people not only lose their bodies—they also lose the ability of the rational mind to discriminate between what’s desirable and undesirable. Thus, they can no longer make decisions to control or change their lived experience. Instead, the only things they experience are uncontrolled impulses. Specifically, whatever interior experience they had at the moment of death will continue for as long as they remain disembodied. Dead people will feel this internal experience to an extremely intense degree, since they lack the control to rein in their impulses.

This is why preparing for the moment of your death is so important, explains Sadhguru. If you successfully maintain awareness and equanimity while you lose your body, you’ll have a heavenly experience after death; if you panic and try to cling to what you’re losing, you’ll have a hellish experience after death.

(Shortform note: For some, the idea that the moment of your death will have such a big impact on your entire afterlife is terrifying. Some spiritual experts warn that placing too much pressure on the moment of your death will cause you to panic when you die—an undesirable state of mind. To counteract this, remember that the key to dying well is to surrender and accept whatever happens. Such equanimity will ensure a positive afterlife, no matter what your specific death looks like.)

How Reincarnation Works

Sadhguru states that, unlike Western views of heaven and hell, karmic afterlife experiences don’t last forever. Eventually, the dead person finds and inhabits a body that’s about to be born. They sense what various lives have to offer, then choose—on instincts established by karma—the one they think will give them what they desire most. This is how reincarnation works: Enduring karmic patterns push a “self” of conscious life energy from body to body.

How to Prepare for a Good Death

Sadhguru asserts that, because most people in modern society ignore the fact that they’re going to die, they neglect to internally prepare for their death. They spend their lives accumulating physical things—money, a family, professional success—and end up panicking when they realize that they’re about to lose it all. This panicked, clinging state is exactly what you want to avoid in the moment of your death, as it’ll lead to an unpleasant afterlife and a similarly ignorant next incarnation.

Given that clinging leads to a difficult afterlife, Sadhguru contends that your ultimate goal should be to die without any attachment or desire for anything another physical life could give you. If you do this successfully, you won’t be reincarnated at all. The karmic influences pushing you around will have vanished, leaving you as a body of pure consciousness energy. There will be no more “you” left to identify with a separate self—instead, you’ll be at one with the universe, a seamless whole. This is a divinely euphoric experience. According to Sadhguru, every being craves the end of their individual self even if they don’t consciously realize it.

What can you do to increase your odds of dying well and achieving this unification with the universe? Sadhguru offers the following advice.

Tip #1: Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Life

First, cultivate the habit of mindfulness at all times. Sadhguru explains that, when you’re mindful of the nature of life and your immediate experience, you’ll realize that there’s nothing more you need. Once you make this state of mind a habit, you’ll have no trouble maintaining it through death, no matter how and when you die. Thus, you’ll break the cycle of reincarnation.

According to Sadhguru, one way to practice mindfulness is to intentionally focus on the experience of hunger. Just before you’re about to prepare or eat a meal, sit and wait for a short time. Pay attention to the experience of hunger and notice that although food is something that your physical body needs, it’s not something that your consciousness—your true self—needs. This will help you become aware that your body isn’t really part of you. The ego-reducing effect of this experience is why fasting is such a common tradition in many world religions.

Tip #2: Spend Your Final Years in Nature

Second, in the last years leading up to your death, live in a space with as few barriers as possible between your body and the rest of the natural world, like an open-air cabin. Sadhguru states that close contact with nature helps you experience how fragile your physical body is outside of the protected human world. This experience will remind you that your body is temporary and not a part of your true self.

Sadhguru discourages the choice to die in a hospital. Many terminally ill patients use medical technology to prolong their lives for as long as possible. However, stretching your life past its natural expiration date will only preserve the body, not the mind, making a mindful death more difficult. Sadhguru is clear that you shouldn’t avoid hospitals and modern medicine if you’re sick and need to recover. But if the doctors declare that it’s likely you’re going to die, prolonging your life further may do more harm than good.

Tip #3: Surrender Your Individuality as You Die

In your attempt to break the cycle of reincarnation, Sadhguru recommends surrendering as much of your individuality as you can at the time of your death. Specifically, make sure that there are no photographs or other items that remind you of your worldly life in the place you’ve chosen to die.

Likewise, Sadhguru recommends dying alone, rather than being surrounded by loved ones. If you focus on the faces of your closest friends and family while you’re dying, it’ll strengthen the attachments to your illusory self that you’re trying to break. You’ll be recalling emotional memories you have about these people rather than maintaining equanimous mindfulness.

How to Prepare for Death—and Why You Should (Sadhguru)

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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