Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Thoughts on Death and Life

My father died a little over a month ago.  My mother had died many years earlier.

Death always has an air of finality to it and when a special loved one dies, in particular loving parents, it is as if an invisible umbilical cord is suddenly jerked out of you.  Umbilical cord and fathers?  Yes, if you know what I mean.

When my mother died there was an immense gap of emptiness and despair.  It took decades for me to cross the vast vacuum within me.  I was quite young and my mother had been the nucleus of our family.  But there was also relief and thankfulness at her death, for she had suffered a great deal from leukaemia in the last few years of her life.

When my father died, things were very different.  It was a sudden, hospital induced death and I am grateful for the fact that my father did not suffer.  He always hated being hospitalised and by the time he reached the emergency unit in hospital, he was hardly aware of what was happening.

Three days before my father's death, about the time he was hospitalised, I began to get messages from him.  Early morning, quick flashes as soon as I awoke, that at the time I did not even quite comprehend.  Messages about life and death.  My father has always been highly intuitive and I do believe that minds and spirits can communicate.  Not in an eerie way but in a wholesome, natural, positive manner.

This sense of communication was heightened on the night of my father's cremation.  I was not the only one to feel my father's presence- my young son did and a few others who were close to him.  In addition I also felt very intensely, the presence of my mother, the presence of a yogi and great joy, love and wisdom emanating from them all.

At the time I did not trust my feelings, thoughts or instincts.  And why do I write all this in a blog?  I have since continued to feel the presence (and communicate with) people who are not here in visible form, in some fashion.  I do not mean that I hear voices or see visions.  It is far more subtle and always a positive, non judgemental and compassionate form of communication.  Perhaps I am more open to listening to my spirit after many years of yoga, I do not know.

I just want to say that it has opened new doors for me.  Though yoga texts clearly say so, we do not really believe that there is more to a person than the physical form.  But now I know there is.  Death no longer has an air of finality for me.  It is nothing but the dissolution of a physical form.  Recently I have spoken to people who have faced similar losses and they have all said that they felt their loved ones close by and had many uncanny experiences which they could not explain.  Coincidences, serendipity, there are many other words for things we do not quite understand.

This view of the transience of death and the continuity of life has made me think and perhaps live my life a little differently now.

Finally, I put down below a few of my favourite verses on these matters of death and of life-

Death, Be Not Proud, by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; 
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow 
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. 
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, 
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, 
And soonest our best men with thee do go, 
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery. 
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, 
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, 
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well 
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then? 
One short sleep past, we wake eternally 
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die. 

A Walk, by Rainer Maria Rilke

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry, 
I am not there; I did not die.

Coda, by Octavio Paz 

Perhaps to love is to learn
to walk through this world.
To learn to be silent
like the oak and the linden of the fable.
To learn to see.
Your glance scattered seeds.
It planted a tree.
I talk
because you shake its leaves.

1 comment:

Sapna K said...

I have often heard from people who have lost a beloved family member that they feel their presence in a happy way. The ancient text Garuda Puran talks about a soul's journey after death. I quite subscribe to the explanation that soul is eternal, it only changes form in its journey through eternity. And as Donne says, death is but a short sleep.

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