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We Cannot Imagine Our Own Destruction – Non-Existence – Why?

From our experience in daily life, we see that nobody can imagine one’s own death, one’s own non-existence. Nobody wants to die. Nobody can imagine one’s own destruction. When we read the newspapers, watch the daily television news and see people dying, see deaths by the hundreds, by the thousands, terrible, gruesome deaths by accident, by suicide, by any other means, we often cry out in pain, ‘Ah, what a terrible thing!’ We feel so much agony, so much empathy. But the very next moment we are off, back to the common conversation: ‘Eh, where’s the tea? I need to leave quickly, get ready for the heavy day’s work ahead’. It doesn’t just strike us, even for a second, that we too could die this very moment! This shows that we just cannot imagine our own destruction, our own non-existence.

In the grand immortal epic Mahabharata, an interesting question has been raised: ‘What is the greatest wonder in life?’ The answer is equally interesting: ‘Day after day we find people dying by the hundreds, but we seek perpetuity, we feel that we are going to live forever, what could be a greater wonder?’

Vedanta analyses this experience and says that at the very root of this feeling is the fact of our real nature being Existence Itself. It is not that we exist, our very nature is Existence. Since Existence can never become non-Existence, we always feel that we will live forever, we seek permanence. The Vedantic term for this feeling is that we are sat-svarupa, Existence itself is our real nature. Interestingly, nobody can deny her or his own existence. Nobody can assert: ‘I do not exist’! Because, to say that ‘I do not exist’, the ‘I’ should be there!

Vedanta therefore says that this undeniable, incontrovertible, irreducible, constant, unchanging, eternal ‘I’, of the very nature of Existence, is the Self, the Atman, the ultimate Truth about oneself. This Self, the Atman, is the supreme Reality, Brahman. There is no other God apart from this Self or Atman or Brahman that Vedanta posits, and it is interesting that this is deeply reflected in our daily experience.