King Janak took every care of the monks needs. After having him fed and washed he personally escorted the monk to the bedroom where he was to spend the night. As can be expected the bedroom was luxurious and comfortable. The monk got into bed and tried to sleep. Just then he saw hanging above him a sword suspended from above from a thin thread. The slightest touch of breeze and the sword could fall injuring or even killing him.
The monk spent the entire night in a state of fear and extreme alertness since he knew that if he stopped being watchful for even a moment he might lose his life.
The next morning King Janak asked the monk if he had spent a comfortable night. The monk grew indignant and asked what was the meaning of having him sleep under a naked sward. He said that he had not slept the whole night despite being very tired from his long journey.
King Janak replied that this was exactly the lesson on how to meditate that he had wanted the monk to learn. The monk had to be alert and aware the whole night. It was a matter of life and death to him. This was the teaching of King Janak. King Janak said that despite living in luxury and all else he remained aware of the sword hanging over his head. The sword was invisible, but it was very real. It was his own impending death. Since King Janak kept the awareness of death in his mind, he was able to stay detached from his luxurious lifestyle. He knew that it could end any moment; that in fact it would inevitably end one day. In this manner he lived in the palace and yet was a hermit.
This is exactly the attitude to be brought when we are learning how to meditate or to life itself. You can remain unaware if you think that you will live forever. But how can you be unaware when you know that life can end any moment. You will be constantly aware and on your guard.
jaano sath hova(n)tho marano dhrisattaen mithhiaa
Know for sure that death will come; whatever is seen is false.
keerath saathh chala(n)thho bhana(n)th naanak saadhh sa(n)gaen 3
So chant the Kirtan of the Lord's Praises in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy; this alone shall go along with you in the end. 3
- GGS ji 1360