BANGALORE: When I was doing research for The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, I came across the story of an Indian maharaja who would engage in a bizarre morning ritual: everyday, immediately after waking up, he would celebrate his own funeral, complete with music and flowers. All the while, he would chant, “I have lived fully, I have lived fully, I have lived fully.”
When I first read this, I could not understand the purpose of this man’s ritual. So I asked my father for some guidance. His reply was this: “Son, what this maharaja is doing is connecting to his mortality every day of his life so he will live each day as if it were his last. His ritual is a very wise one and reminds him of the fact that time slips through our hands like grains of sand and the time to live life greatly is not tomorrow but today.”
While on his deathbed, Plato was asked by a friend to summarize his great life’s work, The Dialogues.
After much reflection, he replied in only two words: “Practice dying.” The ancient thinkers had a saying that captured the point Plato made in other terms: “Death ought to be right there before the eyes of those who are young just as much as before the eyes of those who are very old. Every day, therefore, should be regulated as if it were the one that brings up the rear, the one that rounds out and completes our lives.”
Having a living funeral will reconnect you to the fact that time is a priceless commodity and the best time to live a richer, wiser and more fulfilling life is now.