Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Death- measure of spiritual advancement

Old post that I forgot to post.

In one of the evening discourse, Goenkaji spoke of different religions. Amongst many other things, two ideas from this discourse have stuck with me:
1) what it means to call oneself a Christian or Ram Bhakt, etc
2) death being the measure of a person’s spiritual advancement (I forget the exact word)

If one calls oneself a follower of a certain religion, God, or diety, then one should strive to embody the characteristics embodies within the religion or person. If one only prays or has belief when one needs something, but does not strive to embody the values and traits of the God or religion, one cannot consider oneself a true follower of that faith. Simple idea that makes a lot of sense, but is not practiced by many.

The example he gave was of two brothers, who said they were great followers of Ram. Ram, amongst many other things, is known for his selflessness. Even as the eldest son and crown prince, due to circumstances, he was sent to the forest for 14 years and had his kingdom given to his younger brother. When the younger brother returned and found out what happened in his presence, he went to his elder brother in the forest and the two proceeded to argue over who should have the kingdom and who should stay in the forest. Each argued that the other live in and rule the kingdom!

The second idea was particularly interesting. Goenkaji asserts that the measure of a person’s spiritual advancement is how a person dies. You can tell a phony from enlightened persons by their state of mind when they die. Jesus, for example, was being tortured on the cross, but instead of hatred and ill wishes, he only had love and forgiveness to offer those who were injuring him. This idea resurfaced this evening. I’m truly blessed. I have not one, but three (my maternal grandfather passed away before I was born) grandparents who are very spiritual advanced in bhakti yoga. Today, I learned more about the spiritual aspects of my dad’s parents, who I don’t see often as they live in India. I also learned how full story of how my grandfather died.

The day before he passed away, my grandfather knew he was going to die. Even at the age of 75, he practiced law. The day before his death, he finished all of his pending work and left behind for someone else to finish. Later, my cousin was sitting with him and my kaki. As usual, my cousin asked how he was doing (he has diabetes, etc), to which he replied “My time to die has come.”

The next day, he had a heart attack. He then walked himself to the hospital, climbed up the stairs and did not breathe his last until he lied down on the bed. To this day, my grandfather’s close friend says that he wants to die the way my grandfather did.

It is said that my grandmother also will have a peaceful death, so powerful is her faith, which I have had the pleasure of experience firsthand.

Blessed I am indeed to have these individuals as my grandparents.

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