Buddha, the Enlightened One
This is of great significance for you all.
Meditation has to become something so deep in you that wherever you go it remains, abides with you; whatsoever you do it is always there. Only then can your life be transformed. Then not only will you be meditative in your life, you will be meditative in your death too. You will die in deep meditation.
That's how Buddha died. That's how all the Buddhas have always died: their death is something exquisitely beautiful. Their life is beautiful, their death too. There is no gap between their life and death. Their death is a crescendo of their life, the ultimate peak, the absolute expression.
When Buddha died he was eighty-two years old. He called his disciples together - just as he used to when he talked to them every morning. They all gathered. Nobody was thinking at all about his death.
And then Buddha said, "This is my last sermon to you. Whatsoever I had to say to you I have said. Forty-two years I have been telling you, saying to you... I have poured out my whole heart. Now, if somebody has any question left he can ask, because this is the last day of my life. Today I leave for the other shore. My boat has arrived."
They were shocked! They had come just to listen to the daily discourse. They were not thinking that he was going to die - and without making any fuss about death! It was just a simple phenomenon, a simple declaration that "My boat has come and I have to leave. If you have any question left you can ask me, because if you don't ask me today, I will never again be available. Then the question will remain with you. So please, be kind and don't be shy," he told his disciples.
They started crying. And Buddha said, "Stop all this nonsense! This is no time to waste on crying and weeping! Ask if you have something to ask, otherwise let me go. The time has come. I cannot linger any longer."
They said, 'We have nothing to ask. You have given more than we would have ever asked. You have answered all the questions that we have asked, that we could have asked. You have answered questions which for centuries will be fulfilling for all kinds of inquirers." Then Buddha said, "So I can take leave of you. Good-bye."
And he closed his eyes, sat in a lotus posture, and started moving towards the other shore. It is said: the first step was that he left his body, the second step was that he left his mind, the third step was that he left his heart, the fourth step was that he left his soul. He disappeared into the universal so peacefully, so silently, so joyously. The birds were chirping; it was early morning - the sun was still on the horizon. And ten thousand sannyasins were sitting and watching Buddha dying with such grace! They forgot completely that this was death. There was nothing of death as they had always conceived it. It was such an extraordinary experience.
So much meditative energy was released that many became enlightened that very day, that very moment. Those who were just on the verge were pushed into the unknown. Thousands, it is said, became enlightened through Buddha's beautiful death. We don't call it death, we call it Mahaparinirvana, dissolving into the absolute - just like an ice cube melting, dissolving into the ocean. He lived in meditation, he died in meditation.