The German philosopher Hegel spoke very strongly of the principle “Die to live” which is very much in harmony with the essential knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita and the Vedas.
Die to live – if you want to live in truth, you will have to die as you are in your present state of consciousness.
Material illusory consciousness is one of exploitation, and real consciousness of the soul is a consciousness of service. Death to the ego is a process; it is the most important process that it is the very basis of all spiritual paths. Just like purifying gold. When you put gold in fire, the fire burns away all the gross coverings, and the longer the gold is in fire, the more its original, natural shine manifests. It becomes more and more and more beautiful. Sandalwood is another example – the more you press sandalwood or rub sandalwood, the more its natural, beautiful fragrance is manifested.
From one point of view, we can understand that theoretically we are the eternal soul, part of God. We are eternal servants of God. However, in our life and in the process of purification, in the process of making actual progress, there will be many challenges and obstacles that are threatening and fighting against the principle of what we want to achieve.
However, if we, with proper integrity and proper spiritual direction, pass through those obstacles, they bring about realization. There is theoretical knowledge and through the process of overcoming so many obstacles on the path, we develop realization.
In order to make progress on the spiritual path, in order to properly die to live, there must be elimination of our conditioned state, of our very, very deeply rooted desire to exploit, to accumulate, to possess; and acceptance of a path of humility, purity, and service.
Seva or service really means death to the ego. It is very powerful. It is our constitutional position. It is not our desire to simply die. We want to die to live. Not only do we want to dismiss the ego or cause death to it, but we want to live according to our real ambition, to live in a state of complete fulfillment, divine life and divine love.
Freedom means to surrender to the truth. To serve the mania of the society of the world is slavery, but this is the ignorance of the world. We are thinking that slavery to our mind, our senses, and our ego is freedom and we are thinking that to live a spiritually oriented life is slavery.
Actually death means transformation. On the gross physical level, when somebody’s body dies, really what has happened is just transformation of material elements. It is not that the elements of the body cease to exist. They may be turned into ashes if put into fire, they may be turned into dust if they are put into earth. They are just transformed, so similarly death of the ego means transformation of our consciousness, and in that transformation, there is real life.