Today I come to you with mixed feelings. I considered skipping a month, or writing as if nothing had happened. Neither felt right, something did happen. My beloved dad passed away. No need for details here but it was sudden. My dad was very healthy, had a bike accident and whoosh, just like that…gone from the physical world. Never to be to kissed and hugged again. A searing pain in my heart. It all feels a bit surreal, weird even. It’s as if nature makes it impossible to fully comprehend the magnitude of such a loss immediately, lest one drowns in sorrow.
Death is a biggie. It’s the black beast a lot of us spend most of our lives avoiding. It has been my black beast until not so long ago. And while I have not written about death (yet) on my blog, I do believe avoiding to face our mortality is the root cause of much stress and anxiety. Yogic philosophy even has a word for it: abhinivesa, translated as “fear of death”. But death of what? In my personal explorations I’ve come to realize that what we fear most is not physical death but rather psychological death, the loss of me as I’ve known me: my likes and dislikes, the beliefs and opinions around which I have shaped my life, my personality, my image, my status, the various roles I play…me, me, me, in other words the ego structure I’ve been operating through on this earthly plane. The more identified I am with it, a very limited sense of self in truth, the more I fear losing it, because that would mean the end of me, total annihilation. A pretty dark prospect indeed. And so I cling, and so I suffer. In fact abhinivesa is said to be one of the five main causes of suffering (the five kleshas). It also ties right in with another klesha, avidya or ignorance of our true self. Because there is a true self. I believe we all know that on some level. The existence of a spiritual essence that transcends the time/space reality has been written about in all religions and spiritual traditions. Except that to read about life after life doesn’t provide much solace when faced with the fierceness of Lady Death. Only direct experience of the Everlasting can take the edge off Her.
Namaste: the divine within me recognizes and honors the divine within you.
How acquainted are you with your non-physical self? How well can you see through your loved ones quirks and foibles to who they really are? How skilled are you at soul to soul relating, what I’m choosing to call here namaste relationships? Losing a loved one is a test to how well we knew them, the strength and depth of that relationship. What’s left of it when their earthly residence is no longer…? Cultivating a relationship with the non-physical, in self (first) and in others, while in a body, seems to me a wise thing to do if we are to stay connected beyond the physical. Isn’t that what most spiritual paths advocate anyway? It sure is what Yoga invites us to explore, a different relationship to self, a different relationship to life, and therefore to death. To see through the transient nature of this physical life, to the ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-blissful nature of the soul (Sat-Chit-Ananda), is the highest goal of Yoga. To the degree that we’ve recognized our soul nature (atman), we naturally recognize it in another. Hence a whole new way of relating emerges, a namaste relationship, one that opens us up to the undying love inherent in our soul nature. In this context, our physical apparatus often believed to be an impediment on the spiritual journey, takes on its most sacred role ever, that of a vessel through which the Truth of who I am can be apprehended, liberation (moksha) attained. Grand, isn’t it?
Living 3900 miles away from my family since the age of seventeen hasn’t always been easy, but it has provided me one massive opportunity: to cultivate non-physical relationships and know a love that knows no boundaries. I’ve experienced it most vividly with my beloved parents. Dad and I were very close, and still are. I can honestly say that the love we had for each other has not stopped flowing one bit since his passing. How comforting an experience to have. I wish it to everyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one.
As shocking and sad as the past few weeks have been, they have also been magical.