On the beam of dawn light moving down the passage of the tumulus at Newgrange the souls that lay sequestered might ride the path of the sun and be free. Is it accidental that Yama the god of death is the son of Surya the sun god? Through death you hope to go back to the source of life, ‘the force that through the green fuse drives the flower’ but there yet remains a doubt.
Katha Upanishad: I.i.20
This doubt that arises, consequent on the death of a man - some saying, “It exists”, and others saying, “It does not exist,” - I would know this, under your instruction. Of all the boons, this one is the third boon.
Yama is reluctant to give away the source of his power and by way of distraction instead offers babes and fancy vehicles:
Whatever things there be that are desirable but difficult to get - pray for all those cherished things according to your choice. Here are these women with chariots and musical instruments - such as are not to be had by mortals. With these, who are offered by me, you get yourself served. O Naciketa, do not inquire about death.
O Death, ephemeral are these, and they waste away the vigour of all the senses that a man has. All life without exception, is short indeed. Let the vehicles be yours alone; let the dances and songs be yours.
I have always said this, yes. Honours have come unsought, and unsolicited crept to their due place. Complacently I review the tribute on this day, my birthday: a backpack, pyjama of some silken stuff of Heffneresque implication, a box of chocolates and later a trip to town to the bookshop. Is that all there there is? What about the coloured inks I mentioned and the typewriter ribbons? Have I lived so long to be thus frustrate?
Sorry, where was I?
The preferable and the pleasurable approach mankind. The man of intelligence, having considered them, separated the two. The intelligent one selects the electable in preference to the delectable; the non-intelligent one selects the delectable for the sake of growth and protection (of the body etc.).
In the face of death there are difficult choices to be made. To a friend of very long standing who voted for abortion on demand in the referendum (Irish) I wrote: Are you a dupe or a dope? No card from him.
Later this day a card did arrive. No need to go into it. I'll just leave him the last word.