I was watching a sweet video on Yazemeenah Rossi, the over-60s super model who is casting a spell over everybody with her attitude, her glowing skin and super attitude. In that video she says that she projects her life far into the coming years, possibly up to 2045 or more. I loved that. This idea is a yogic concept called Mrityunjaya -- the victory over death.
It is not necessarily a physical conquest. But a fearless attitude that says that while it is not afraid of death, it will choose the time of death. Advanced yogis are supposed to have this power. It is said of many mystics and prophets. Milarepa, the Tibetan mystic, who knew he was being poisoned and is indifferent as he decides his role in current life is now over and decides to consume the poison. The same is said of Lord Buddha who is said to have had more than two dozen attempts on his life. Yet, in his eighties, when he decides to go, he takes the meal that he knew was poisoned, assumes the pose (in yoga called Drdasana/the stoic's pose) and waits for his death as he allows his devotees a last look at him, as the queue up to seek his blessings. Swami Sivananda too is said to have chosen his death a year ahead of his death, choosing the exact date and time of his death.
There are many marvellous mysteries about yoga. And this about it, that you can choose the time of your death without fear, is one of those. To be able to look death in the eye, having lived a life well, uncluttered, with no ill-will, joyously, and no regret. Then say, when choosing death, that it is just another another adventure of the spirit. The experience is quantum. Look at this from the perspective of the Indian philosophy where Lord Krishna says, “Natwewaham jatu nasam” (Never I was not.), he was also urging us to feel this eternity in our very being.
This bit is from a column I wrote some time back, on the idea victory over death, as understood by yoga:
The maha mrityunjaya mantra (used in most yoga ashrams) evocatively describes the nature of this faith, fearlessness and even disregard towards death. The mantra, inadequately translated here, means just as a cucumber drops from the vine when it is ripe and ready, so too we must jettison this sense of this our little selves on our journey into immortality. The Mahabharata puts forth this yogic idea of life and death with the same clarity: “Having obtained this priceless birth with all the senses in their full activity, he who does not understand the good of self, destroys himself.” What this means is that many of us lead a lives of living death even while nursing an unnecessary fear of death.
So the investment in a daily physical aspect of yoga takes a new meaning when u understand, that a regular sadhana was designed to ensure that if all things went well then you want to be spiritually vital till the last breath you take. Your practice will help you retain a mind that is young and fresh . That you create a sense of joy that, hopefully, will trigger the natural order of biological synchronicity and make the rest of the world also happy, content to make do with less, and not quarrel and fight. That you rewrite the rules of the world, for the better.