Two years ago, a young man named Tim was startled to notice during his morning shower that there were bruises all over his body. That afternoon, Tim was diagnosed with leukemia and given three weeks to live!

Tim’s reaction was predictable and understandable—”I’ve got a good job, a fiancée, and I’m only 21 years old! Why is this happening to me? This is not fair!”

Tim was frightened and angry. Of course, he wanted to live. He did not want to cease to exist. Like most people, Tim’s sense of “existence” was based on his identifying with his material body. He believed he had begun to exist in his mother’s womb and he had planned on existing for another 50 or 60 years. Suddenly, with but three weeks’ notice, Tim was being told he would soon be dead—nonexistent.

As self-realized persons have said, “The truth will set you free.” Had Tim known the truth about his real identity—had he known that he was not his body and would not cease to exist when his body died—he would have been freed from the fear and anger that consumed him during the three weeks he was hospitalized.

According to yoga, we are eternal beings and this temporary world is not our home. Despite that reality, however, most of us build our homes on the beach at low tide and try to pretend the tide (death) won’t come in and wash away our existence.

The truth—that you are spirit in essence, not matter, and that you will continue to exist with or without a material body— is very liberating.

As long as we are in ignorance—as long as we falsely identify with the material body and believe we will cease to exist when our body dies—we and our loved ones will suffer at the time of death.

Attachment to others based on false identification with the material body is a source of immense pain and suffering at the time of death. When the “tide” of death rips us away from loved ones, we and they experience great sorrow.

According to ancient yoga scripture, our essence is eternal spirit. There was never a time that we did not exist and there will never be a time when we will cease to exist.

To transcend the suffering and anguish normally associated with “death”—we need only embrace the truth: Each of us is an indestructible, eternal being temporarily in a material body.

Knowing that you will never cease to exist is the truth that will set you free.