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Remembering my Youthful Fear of Non-existence

NUMBER ONE. I am going to reprint a series from 2010 during late April till May 20th, when I spent time with my mom. [What follows after this introduction is from 4-03-10] She lay in hospital bed in a hospice, basically waiting to die, though she didn't really understand that, and kept asking when she was going home. When both one's parents have left the world in biological death, and moved on to another life, that is a kind of initiation.

"Loosing" one's parents (were they ever really "ours?") will obviously mean different things for everyone, but for me, it has been an initiation into a realization, that is more real than the important theory in scripture, namely, that we come into this world with only our karma and any spiritual merit we have, and then leave everything we have worked so hard to accumulate, either in hard material assets or our reputation, and how we are remembered.What we keep is what we have given, or owe for taking, and any spiritual progress we have made. Equally as importantly is our own opinion of our life--do we have unfinished business or unresolved issues including anger or resentment, and, as is often said in those having had a near death experience who underwent a panoramic life review, we are questioned in "How much have I given, how much have I loved, how much have a learned?" Everything else is only a backdrop to our spiritual progress.

Or as personal growth teachers often share, it is not what we have accumulated, how much money we have made, or any number of external signs of success or prosperity, but who we have become in the process in terms of our character, gratitude and generosity. Personally, though I agree with that assessment, I just add the superlative importance of how much we have progressed in loving God, and making spiritual progress from our conditioned exploitive ego, to the serving ego of the soul--that trumps everything.

I am on a plane heading to see my Mom in Palm Springs California in the US who is gravely ill. For the next few days or week I will be sharing my reflections and thoughts.

There is a strong power in being clear about our intentions. In my case my intention is to be a support for my Mom through our natural love from our long relationship at a very difficult time for her. I have to remember my purpose is to extend her compassion, kindness. I need have no other agenda--as much as we have hurt one another through misunderstanding--and be there for her by communicating love, consideration and the mood of service, while within I will pray for her speedy departure from her current miseries, and ideally to have some sort of spiritual awakening. I am and will continue to pray that for as long as she remains with us she will be peaceful and be resolved about her life, with no resentment for that past. I have taken hospice training and many people leave the world very unresolved in their relationships and life and this is very sad and bears karmic resolution in future lives.

As I sit on the plane, I remember that Krishna tells us in the Gita's 10th chapter that he is adventure, and travel is an adventure for me. I feel the energy of excitement in facing the unknown and different possibilities. Perhaps traveling solo increases that as it's up to me to depend on Krishna. It's also good for me to have a change of routine and have the chance of meeting new people (which I don't have since loosing my job). I know I need to have more of this in my life, though I am unsure how to bring this about. Although I would prefer a different reason for traveling, every situation affords opportunities and challenges.

It is a funny thing about flying--the possibility of dying always enters my and perhaps most people's minds, and I have to question if I am ready! In this situation it is obvious we are not in control. We are just sitting in a machine being driven and maintained by others. (similar to our own body, though we have a little control.) Add to this fact the reason for my journey and it is natural to contemplate life and death. Of course the Shrimad Bhagavatam teachers us that we are all about to die--either today or tomorrow. If I died in-flight then I would be older than my Mom!

Interestingly, although I drive frequently, there is more chance of being injured or killed by driving than flying. Most people including myself rarely thing of our chance in dying while driving, though perhaps if I flew all the time, I would also lose my reflections on my mortality.

I remember as a youth, thinking that death was the end of our existence. It was difficult to imagine not existing and the idea of "non-existence. It was a bit scary and I had no way to resolve my perplexity, so I usually would just think of something else. Now I have so many ways to think of the continuity of my existence from Vedic texts, popular books on NDEs (Near Death Experiences), my discussions with those who have had them, and just my spiritual sense. It is hard now to imagine not having a soul perspective and having Krishna and his devotees in my life!

For my Mom, she thinks it's all over at death. Among other things, she has "issues" around religion (and likely God) coming from her childhood--having a very devout Christian, though sometimes heavy, Mom. So even though she is tired of living in her body she clings to what she knows of life. Interestingly she has signed papers to prevent her from being put on life-support machines--no artificial life in a vegetative state. And she will be cremated as my father was and my wife's parents will be. Let us see what will be on this journey.

Combined comments from old site

Fri, 04/23/2010 - 09:29 — Robotmule
I'm in a similar situation.

My grandmother is also slowly dying of cancer and my mother is looking after her. My mother has a very material mentality, so she scoffs at my other grandparents coming to pray for her. My dying grandmother is very "intellectual" in a certain sense, but speaking to her about subject matters concerning "metaphysical" things always agitates her mind. She worked at a mental asylum for a while, so when I speak about Vedic concepts, she equates them with hallucinations and insanity.

So, now she is lying on her deathbed, desperately clinging to her life even though she is suffering immense physical pain. (She also does not want life support) That is just natural, but considering her nihilistic mentality, it is very difficult to approach her with some nice, optimistic transcendental information. So, she is lying there, still listening to the radio featuring horrible political news.

Her material senses have never recognized a higher dimension to life, so it is impossible for her to imagine in these terms. The thing that I don't like about "old people" sometimes, is that they think that because they have "lived longer", they have come to more solid conclusions about life. What a joke then, to understand that they have remained on the illusory plane with their so-called experience, and thus no actual progression was made. I'm still hoping that my grandmother becomes more interested or open to the possibility of an "optimistic death", because I feel she has a nice opportunity to try and soothe her soul into the next realm instead of being suddenly killed. I do believe Krsna will have mercy on her soul, but I also hope that my mother will learn some kind of nice lesson before she gets her inheritance.

Krsna, please let me maintain my sanity and not forget you.


Thu, 04/29/2010 - 15:12 — Karnamrita.das
No shelter in matter

It's similar with my mom. However, she is very humbled by her dependence and as I shared in today's blog, she does seem to understand that she has done something to be in your present situation. It is also a very healing experience for both of us. So we have to make the best of it, and have some maha or ganga water and holy dust on hand for when they leave their body. Certainly our prayer help. I also am praying that she has some type of spiritual experience or awaking. Then she will suffer less and have a better attitude. Seeing her or anyone suffering is very difficult.

Your friend in Krishna,


Thu, 04/22/2010 - 22:47 — abrennan
Hare Krishna

Hare Krishna, Karnamrita

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 04:10 — bhakta skot

Thanks for your comments. I just got an internet connection today so it was difficult to go online except to post my blogs. I do my best to share my life, warts and all, as I think that is useful for everyone. Our journey to Krishna is not straight up like a rocket, but has been called a zig-zag path by Thakur Bhaktivinode and others. As we head for the highest Krishna peak we have many foothills to clime and valleys and deserts to cross. How interesting that my mom lives in a desert, and that her nursing facility and the hospital accross the street are on "Dr. Sinn" street, who appropriate.

Your friend in Krishna,