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Socrates' Death
Socrates' Biography

Socrates is dying, and on his face there is so much contentment that everyone feels it strange - because he is just on the verge of death, and death is a certainty with him. He is to be given poison. The poison is being made ready, being prepared just outside his room. The room is filled with his disciples and friends. They are all weeping and crying, and Socrates is lying on the bed. He says, "Now the time is coming near. Ask those persons who are preparing the poison if they are ready yet, because I am ready."

Someone asks, "Are you not afraid of death, Socates? Why are you so anxious to die?" Socrates says, "Whatsoever is, is. Death is there; death is coming nearer. I must be ready to meet it, otherwise I will miss the moment of meeting death. So be silent. Do not disturb me; do not talk about past days."
Many people gathered there are talking of past days, of how beautiful it was to be with Socrates, and Socrates says, "Do not disturb me. I have known you. In the past, in the days which you are talking about, you were not so happy then as you are saying." His wife is weeping, and the same wife struggled with him for her whole life. It was a long conflict, a long problem - never solved.

Socrates says, "It is strange! Why is my wife weeping? I would have thought she would be happy when I died, because my life was such a burden and such a suffering for her. Why is she weeping now? She never enjoyed any moment with me, and now she is weeping for those golden moments. They were never there; only now she is creating a past which never was. It seems she has suffered because of me when I was alive, and now she will suffer because of my absence."

Such is the stupidity of the human mind. You suffer the presence of a person, then you suffer the absence of the same person. You cannot live with someone, but then you cannot live without him also. When he is with you, you see all the faults, when he is gone, you remember his qualities. But you never face the reality.

Then the poison comes and Socrates says, "Be silent; do not disturb me. Let me be here and now. Do not talk about the past. It is no more." Someone asks Socrates, "Are you not afraid of dying? You seem so contented. Your face shows such silence. We have never seen anyone dying in such beauty. Your face is so beautiful! Why are you not afraid?"

Socrates says, "Only two are the possibilities, two are the alternatives. Either I am going to die completely. If this death is ultimate and there will be no Socrates, why bother? If I am not going to be at all, there is no question, there will be no suffering because Socrates will be no more. Or, the second alternative: only the body will die, and I, Socrates, will remain. So why bother? These are the only two alternatives possible, and I do not choose either of the two. If I choose, then it will become a problem.
If the one I choose doesn't happen and the other happens, then there will be disturbance and discontent and fear and insecurity, and I will begin to tremble. But these are two alternatives, and I am not the chooser. The Whole is the chooser. Whatsoever happens, happens. If Socrates will be no more.

Socrates is unworried. Or, if Socrates will still be there, again there is no worry - then I will be. If I am there, then I will be there. Then I will continue, so no need of any worry. Or, I will drop completely; then no one will remain to worry. But no more questions. So no more questions! Let me face death."
He takes the poison, he lies down, and then he begins to face, to encounter, death. No one else has ever encountered death in that way. It is unique - Socratic. He says, "Now my legs have become dead, but I am as much alive as ever. My feeling of I-ness is the same. The legs have become dead, my legs are no more. I cannot feel my legs, but my wholeness remains the same."

Then he says, "My half-body has become dead. I cannot feel it. The poison is coming up and up. Sooner or later my heart will be drowned in it, and it is going to be a discovery whether, when my heart has been drowned, I feel the same or not. But there is no expectation - just an open inquiry."

Then he says, "My heart is going, and now it seems it will be difficult for me to speak more. My tongue is trembling and my lips are now giving way. So these are going to be the last words. But still, I say, I am the same. Nothing has dropped from me. The poison has not touched me yet. The body is far away from me, going away and away. I feel I am without a body, but the poison has not yet touched me. But who knows? It may touch, it may not touch. One has to wait and see." And he dies.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 05/09/04     |      Contact:      |      Modified on 01/05/13