A dear friend once told me that part of her spiritual practice was preparing to die, so when the time comes, she’d be ready. This made sense to me, and I went to Swami Veda Bharati and asked him what I should practice to prepare to die. He told me, “live well and fully. That is the best preparation for dying.”
That’s not what I thought he was going to say. Since then, I’ve contemplated what Swami Veda said, and I’m sure he wasn’t counseling me to satisfy all my desires, to strive for wealth and power, or to accumulate things.
Doing those things just increases attachment to the ephemeral world, so that, at death, pain is increased.
Rather, he meant to perform my duties in the world to the best of my ability and to serve others lovingly and selflessly, to seek to find my true radiant Self through yoga-meditation, and to transform my emotions so my mind becomes sweet and joyful all the time. Thus, his counsel was to spend my life on the path to true happiness; happiness that frees me from the world rather than binds me to it.
In the same vein, Swami Rama said, “Even if you live for only five days, if you live those days cheerfully and fearlessly, they are wonderful. If you live miserably for five hundred years, then those five hundred years are of no use.” He also said, “Before the light of the body extinguishes, learn to focus all your awareness within. Then, you merely leave your shell here.”
That’s the way to live well, and then die.