A woman with brown hair reading a book inside

What do you think of death? Is it something to be feared? What preparations should you make?

Someday, you’re going to die. This is an obvious, unavoidable fact of life. Yet, author Sadhguru points out that almost everyone in modern society has implicitly agreed to ignore it. This reluctance to acknowledge death leads to enormous and unnecessary suffering.

Continue reading for a comprehensive overview of Sadhguru’s Death: An Inside Story.

Overview of Sadhguru’s Death: An Inside Story

Sadhguru’s Death: An Inside Story argues that so many of us ignore death because we’re afraid of it. But, Sadhguru adds, the only reason we’re afraid is because we don’t understand the true nature of the universe. If we opened our eyes to spiritual truths, we’d see that death is nothing to be afraid of. According to Sadhguru, forming such a peaceable relationship with death will help you live a balanced, joyful life. More than that, it’ll help you prepare for your death—and what comes afterward.

Sadhguru is a spiritual teacher and founder of the Isha Foundation, a nonprofit based in India. The foundation teaches spiritual practices including yoga and meditation, offers holistic medical services, and organizes large-scale environmental activism. Although Sadhguru doesn’t formally identify with any religion, many of his spiritual ideas overlap with those found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern traditions.

We’ll begin by explaining why ignoring death causes suffering and accepting death brings joy. Then, we’ll describe how to overcome the fear of death, exploring truths about the universe that reveal why death shouldn’t be frightening. Next, we’ll cover how and why to prepare for your death, detailing Sadhguru’s view of the afterlife. Finally, we’ll offer tips on how to overcome feelings of grief and live a joyful life after a loved one has passed away.

Ignorance About Death Causes Suffering

Many people in today’s society suffer because they constantly avoid thinking about their deaths. But, why is this?

For one, Sadhguru asserts that for some people, ignoring death causes suffering because it prevents them from appreciating the time they have. Unless someone recognizes that every second of their life is one they’ll never get back, they’ll frequently waste time and energy on things that don’t matter. For example, they might get into petty fights with others and worry about parts of life they can’t change. Such time-wasting only makes life less enjoyable.

Other people go to the opposite extreme: Instead of ignoring death completely, they try to avoid death at all costs. They want to live a comfortable, predictable, and unchanging life with as little risk and danger as possible. However, Sadhguru maintains that this kind of life is practically the same as being dead already, and it leaves these people depressed and aimless.

In contrast, Sadhguru argues that acknowledging the inevitability of death helps you cultivate gratitude for everything in life. When you were born, all of the wonderful things in your life were freely given to you. When you die, you’re not losing anything—only giving back life’s gifts after having thoroughly enjoyed them. Recognizing this fact will help you enjoy life more: Rather than being constantly afraid of losing everything you have, you can focus on appreciating and enjoying life’s gifts as much as you can.

How to Overcome the Fear of Death

Sadhguru insists that accepting death is key to living a fulfilling life. But, how do we do this?

First of all, once you realize that there’s no reason to be afraid of death, you’ll have an easier time accepting it. According to Sadhguru, people who fear death are actually afraid of two types of pain: First, they fear the pain associated with death itself. Luckily, he says, death itself isn’t painful—on the contrary, you can only feel pain if you’re still alive. If you’re sick, the moment you die is the moment the pain stops.

Second, Sadhguru states that people fear death because they’re afraid of the pain of losing something important to them. However, the only losses you suffer in death are those that can’t hurt you. You’re not really losing anything at all. Let’s explain how this could be the case.

The Part of You That Dies Isn’t Really You

Sadhguru contends that, to be free of the fear of death, you must become aware of certain spiritual truths. Specifically, he asserts that the individual self is an illusion. What you perceive to be “yourself” primarily consists of two parts: karma and life energy. However, the part of yourself that’s conscious—who “you” really are—is life energy alone, and this energy persists beyond death eternally. Let’s break this down.

Component #1: Karma

Sadhguru explains that “karma” isn’t a means of universal judgment, as some may assume. Rather, he defines karma as a broad category of information from the past that builds up over time and manifests in some form. Your genetics, personality, atomic structure, and conscious memories are all different kinds of karma.

Component #2: Life Energy

According to Sadhguru, the other main component that makes up who you are is life energy, or consciousness. This word describes how self-aware someone—or something—is. Sadhguru asserts that everything in the universe is self-aware to some degree. The more self-aware a part of the universe is, the more of this kind of “energy” we can say it has.

When you die, Sadhguru says, almost all of the karma that makes up your identity is destroyed. Your body, mind, and memories of past experiences no longer exist. However, your life energy—the part of you reading these words right now—lives on everywhere else in the universe. Because of this, Sadhguru goes as far as to say that death doesn’t really exist; it’s just a transition to a different form of life.

The only reason you fear death is because you mistakenly believe that “you” are karma rather than life energy. You believe that your body is “you,” your emotions are “you,” and your memories are “you.” Once you realize that these are all things that occur outside of “you,” you’ll understand that losing them won’t be painful, and you’ll no longer be afraid.

Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Death

Understanding these ideas is one thing, but it’s unlikely that learning about these ideas is enough to remove your fear of death. Thus, Sadhguru suggests three specific actions you can take to help you make peace with death.

Tip #1: Regularly Think About Your Death

Sadhguru recommends spending five minutes a day thinking about the fact that you’re going to die. Doing so will quickly improve your life—you’ll find it easier to appreciate life as it happens, and you’ll feel compelled to seek the meaning of life and other important truths, furthering your spiritual growth.

Tip #2: Meditate

According to Sadhguru, another way you can overcome your fear of death is through meditation. In a sense, meditation is a way of practicing death. Once you can quiet the mind, the karmic components of your illusory self will fade out of your experience, and you can temporarily feel what it’s like to be dead. In doing so, you come to understand that this disappearance of the self isn’t painful or anything to fear.

Tip #3: Experience Disembodied Awareness

Lastly, Sadhguru states that you can conquer your fear of death through a certain kind of spiritual experience: disembodied awareness. He explains that you’re afraid of losing your body and mind because the only kind of life you’ve experienced has been through these parts of yourself. If you can experience a little of what it’s like to exist outside of your body and mind, seeing through the universe’s eyes, you won’t be afraid to die. Certain advanced spiritual practices train your ability to control the various life energies inside of you, giving you access to these kinds of experiences on demand.

How to Prepare 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.

We’ll start by explaining which part of death you need to prepare for and why. Then, we’ll offer several tips you can follow to increase your odds of dying well.

Why 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.

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 Die Well

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 Overcome Grief

We’ve covered how to overcome the fear of death and how to work toward a better afterlife by preparing for death. We’ll conclude with practical advice for people who are still alive but have been impacted by death: how to overcome painful feelings of grief after someone close to you has died.

What Is Grief?

Sadhguru argues that to overcome grief, you must become aware of its true nature. He contends that grief isn’t just the automatic human response to death. Rather, when you feel the pain of grief, you’re suffering the loss of what that person added to your life. You feel as if a part of you has died; consequently, you believe that you’re fundamentally broken, missing something necessary for life.

However, Sadhguru contends that to live a perfect life, you don’t need anything or anyone—not even the love of your life. Grief makes this fact more apparent by stripping away the things you used to think you needed. For this reason, grief is a valuable opportunity for spiritual growth.

To Overcome Grief, Give More Love to Others

According to Sadhguru, when someone you love dies, you’ll find that your love for them will grow much more intense. All the little things that annoyed you about this person while they were alive will be gone. Since they can’t upset you anymore, you’ll naturally be filled with overwhelming love for the idealized version of them. Unless you do something, this love will keep you trapped in your grief and pain because you’ll be trying and failing to care for someone who no longer exists.

Sadhguru insists that to overcome grief, you need to redirect this outpouring of love toward people who are still living. Find people who need your compassion and give generously to them. Filling your life with the joy of service is the best way to move past your hopeless attachment to those who have passed. Additionally, if your loved one’s life and death inspire you to become a better person, your acts of service become a way of honoring their memory.

Death: An Inside Story by Sadhguru (Overview & Takeaways)

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.