Our True Postion Revealed with Disease, Old Age and Death
Reducing life to its basic components as old age takes away what we have for years taken for granted. My mom lays down unable to do most things unassisted. Now getting up to go the toilet is a major, challenging, strenuous event! Her life is defined by scheduled meal times and calling for assistance in basic maintenance of the body. It seems that the more self contained and independent one was, the harder it is to be in a helpless condition. Actually we are always dependent on God, but due to our material ignorance we think we are the master of all we survey. Krishna kindly teaches us (if we are ready to listen) our true position through the gradual demise of our power in body and mind as well as our ability to influence and act.
Though it is still difficult for me to accept that my mom is so uncomfortable and in constant pain, I am somewhat used to it—though of course she will never be! Her failing health is the constant background for the time we spend together. She doesn’t want to do anything, and mainly stares off into space and thinks, or laments. Since she won’t watch T.V. or read, when I visit we just feel our connection and reminisce about her long life and our shared experiences of events, family and friends. This seems to be a natural occurrence in old age and preparing for death. If used properly this propensity can release old anger and resentments and actually clear out a lot of relationship karma. Sometimes people have spiritual awakenings as well, and can make fast progress by Krishna’s grace by seeing the naked form of material existence.
A person’s life is like many mini lives, different influences or period’s within our larger life. I suppose it must have been said by somebody before, but it is clear how our life is like a book with so many chapters, characters, events, plots, subplots, and some kind of introduction, beginning, middle and then it is over, “The End”…at least of this one life's book. And it is a huge room with floor to ceiling books with no end in sight!
When we become old our life book’s binding begins to unravel and break and then pages which are already dog-eared, yellow and stained begin to fall out. Despite whatever interesting stories and life lessons remain in this old book, most people miss it and it is headed for the garbage. Such a shame, as it was such an expensive book, with such quality paper and printing along with color illustrations! As my Mom often says, “O well.”
We speak of things, people and events that we haven’t thought of for years. Although from the view of eternity this life is but a brief flash, it can seem quite long at times and we find we can barely recount all that has occurred. Of course, it would be helpful to speak of topics about Krishna and the philosophy of self realization, but you and I know that will not happen, save a miracle—which BTW, I do believe in! Yet in this context even what appears to be our worldly topics and our family relationships is important in letting go of our relationship and feeling closure and satisfaction, lest we have work it out in a future life. I have taken hospice training, and the idea of a life review before death can be very helpful for spiritual progress, and clearing karma.
If a person can accept their dependent position as they move toward death, a certain humility can arise, which opens the heart, giving the possibility that higher dimensions may be welcomed in the shape of divine beings coming to help and offer blessings. I do see this humility in my mom, and she genuinely expresses her gratitude for whoever helps her. Thus I am seeing sides of her I haven’t seen before, as her false egoic sense of self is weakened. As I have said in previous logs, she is expressing the possibility of another existence after this one, which is unheard of for her.
She said yesterday, that “when I die, or go to some other world”. This statement is coming from a woman who was very nonreligious, even averse to it, as a reaction I think to her over zealous Christian and very proper mom. So you can imagine her reaction when her only child became a Hare Krishna, and in the beginning a very fanatical one at that. I just found an old letter I sent to her in 1976, and it sounded like a Bhagavatam class. What I said was true, but had no tact whatsoever, and must have angered her to the max. And now that is all forgotten. She is so happy to be with me now, even after all this time. Let us hope and pray for her and all of us, that we may have an auspicious death surrounded by devotees chanting and praying for us!