If you’re a student of spirituality, you may have heard of the idea of dying before you die.
While this is an age-old idea that has roots in Islam, Sufism, and other religions, it is a very powerful practice that is equally relevant to the modern age, and has been invoked by a number of secular spiritual thinkers, from Alan Watts to Eckhart Tolle.
In this post we’ll take a look at what it means to die before you die, as well one of my favorite meditations that will guide you through the process.
Meaning and Explanation: Releasing Attachment To The Ego
Before we go any further, I want to make it 100% clear that we are not talking about physical death. The premise of dying before you die is to achieve self-liberation and become free from worldly concerns, while continuing to live in this physical life.
To die before you die, you must release attachment to everything in the physical world. It is a process of untethering your mind from your physical surroundings, while maintaining bodily form.
The purpose of this is to help you achieve a higher state of awareness, and understand more fully your true nature and the role you have established for this lifetime.
When you die before you die, you release all of your attachment to your physical form, and the identity you have created for yourself in this life. You release the need to hold on to ego-driven suffering, thereby allowing you to experience a state of total freedom.
How To Prepare for the Practice
To prepare for the practice, you may wish to do some other preparatory exercises in releasing attachment. For example, practicing Neti Neti (a practice of releasing identity through negation) with a focus on different aspects of your life, possessions, and personality, can be a helpful exercise before engaging with this meditation.
It also helps if you have experience working with outer body meditations, in which you step away from your physical awareness in order to perceive life from a neutral, energetic point of view.
So, before you proceed with the meditation below, you might want to try one of the following:
- Guided Meditation to Let Go of the Past and Release Negative Energy
- How To Let Go of Everything in a Single Breath
- Guided Mindfulness Meditation to Release Stress and Anxiety.
Die Before You Die Meditation by Bentinho Massaro
This is a great lecture, discussion, and meditation about how to die before you die, led by Bentinho Massaro at one of his workshops. It’s long, but definitely worth it!
He does a great job of guiding you into a deep state of meditation, where you can release attachment to the self! I highly recommend it!
Quotes on Dying Before You Die
It’s no surprise that this powerful practice has stood the test of time. It has been referenced by many spiritual leaders. Here are a few of my favorite quotes referencing it.
“To become spiritual you must die to self, and come alive in the Lord. Only then will the mysteries of God fall from your lips. To die to self through self-discipline causes suffering but brings you everlasting life.” – Rumi
“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ and find that there is no death.” – Eckhart Tolle
Poem by Rabia Basri
“Ironic, but one of the most intimate acts of our body is death. So beautiful is my death – knowing who then I would kiss – that I died a thousand times before I died. ‘Die before you die’ said the prophet Muhammad. Have wings that feared ever touched the sun?”