I have somehow always been conscious of death, the temporariness of things. This awareness goes back as far as I can recall. I remember pulling out a small red copy of the New Testament from my father’s book case (I must have been around seven at the time) and checking the contents and index for the word death. I don’t remember what that particular search revealed!
And yet this awareness or consciousness has never been a morbid one. There was fear, certainly, around the question, but gradually that fear became focussed as a kind of curiosity, a determination to “understand” the process of death, to try to be fully present when it happened, to figure out what exactly dying while living might mean, an idea many mystics have explored.
Ramana’s description conveys a kind of focussed purity, a consequence of staying with the idea of the dissolution of mind and body without any compromise. I think most of us compromise when it comes to meditating on death; the excuses, the shying away come very naturally. Ramana’s experience reveals, by contrast, a fantastic level of clarity and insight.