Mantra dispels the fear of death and leads one fearlessly to the other shore of life.—Swami Rama
Death is a habit of the body, a necessary change. But while we are alive we don’t pay attention to the importance of knowing how to die at will, nor do we prepare ourselves psychologically for that moment. From the moment of birth we constantly tell ourselves that the objects of the world are real and that our happiness and completion depend on material possessions. But there comes a time when we notice that the material objects we have acquired are drastically changing and falling apart, and that the same thing is happening with our relationships. We are disappointed with life, and at the same time we become deeply attached to our children and possessions. As old age approaches we are lonely and afraid. We think that death will be painful—but in fact it is not death, it is the fear of death that creates misery for a dying person.
The brain has a limited capacity to sense physical pain, and at a certain point it becomes oblivious to it. Thus, during death people do not suffer from physical pain as much as they experience psychological pain. So just as we have discovered ways to prepare the expectant mother to have a safe birth and minimize the pain during labor, we must learn the techniques of casting off the body without fear and pain.
Yogis have discovered several ways to cast off their body voluntarily and joyfully. There are many signs and symptoms of impending death, and evolved yogis know precisely when and at what time it will happen. They greet that moment joyfully, and they leave the body in the same way that ordinary human beings take off their clothes.
Some of the famous yogic techniques for casting off the body are hima-samadhi, casting off one’s body in deep snow; jala-samadhi, casting off one’s body in water; sthala-samadhi, casting off one’s body while sitting in siddhasana, the accomplished pose, and consciously opening the fontanelle; meditating on the solar plexus and reducing the body to ashes in a fraction of a second; and piercing the brahma randhra, also known as the brahma nadi.
A dying meditator attains freedom from fear and departs gracefully.
But even if you just meditate regularly and sincerely, you will find that your mantra is an eternal friend during the time of transition. Meditators cannot be lonely and afraid during the time of death, because they are accompanied by the mantra. It is the leader that guides them from this world to the next, and this realization comes a moment before death actually takes place. Thus a dying meditator attains freedom from fear, insecurity, and loneliness in this very lifetime and departs from this platform gracefully.
Source: “Swami Rama of the Himalayas” in The Himalayan Masters: A Living Tradition by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD