The question of what happens next when we let go of this ‘mortal coil’ is a topic for much theory and speculation, but little hard fact, for obvious reasons!
For some it can be a cause of great fear and anxiety. For others in certain circumstances it may represent a welcome release, for yet others there may be the realisation that there is actually little to be afraid of and more to look forward to!
Our condolences go to Steve Jobs family. He was a genius, a visionary, and a tech-guru, who changed the lives of many millions. Tempted by that juicy apple so long ago, the life of Adam and Eve and of mankind changed forever. In a more benign but equally alluring way… the Apple of Steve Jobs’ creation has transformed the way the world functions today.
For someone who passed away a billionaire, the first lesson he teaches us is that no one carries away even a penny into their next destination. The physical wealth we earn and accumulate is just for this lifetime. Wealth is only meaningful if you use it wisely and enjoy it while you are still alive and kicking.
It is the fragrance of good times and the fruit of the good actions you have created in this lifetime that will be carried away in the suitcase of your soul; it is the blessings you have earned from others and Divine that will travel with you; and it is the seeds of good karma (deeds) sown that will continue to serve you in the future.
Over 2000 years before Jobs, Alexander the Great too taught us a similar lesson. On his deathbed he made three requests. Firstly he said, “Let my hands hang out of the coffin so all can see that I am taking nothing with me. Despite all the lands I have conquered… I came empty handed and I am leaving empty handed”. Secondly, an instruction to “Have all my wealth – gold and silver- strewn after my coffin so people know it is a waste to chase after it”. And thirdly, “Have the physicians carry me – to prove that even they cannot save this body from the clutches of death!”
Raja Yoga meditation teaches us that death is not an end to our existence. In the sheer experience of ‘soul consciousness’ – the awareness of the true self- we realize there is no death, only life, for the soul is eternal. No fire can burn the soul, no water can drown the soul, and no knife can cut the soul. I, the soul, or spirit, am eternal and imperishable. I never die. As I deepen my experience of my true essence, (as opposed to the false sense of self – a body conscious attitude) then fear dissolves and I become more able to live life to the full, enjoy the present moment, and experience a deep sense of peace and security. I know beyond doubt that I am eternally loved and protected.
Each time I tune into myself as a soul and detach from my physical surroundings, including mentally detaching from my own body, I have an experience of what it means to disengage from the material world. The more I am versed in this feeling, the less fear there will be of dis-connecting when the time comes to part and ‘disentangle’ from this body.
There are thousands of reports by people who claim to have had a ‘near death’ experience. Their testimonies are surprisingly consistent. The vast majority felt a great peace without any fear, and a deep sense of one-ness with all Creation. Their most powerful experience was a sense of being loved so fully and unconditionally, like nothing they had experienced before in ‘life’. So beautiful were these experiences that many did not want to return to this world. When they did, their lives were often transformed, and all fear had dissolved.
For some who have time to prepare for death due to a long-term illness, it can be a time to forgive and forget, to make amends, and to prepare for the inevitable. It can be a time of realisation, reconciliation and peace. Yet others can spend their ‘last days’ full of regret and remorse, crying over a life unlived. How a person perceives the final chapters of their life to be in this case depends upon the mindset of the individual, and what one chooses to do with that precious time.
If one has traveled through the journey of life with honesty and integrity, there is no need to worry about the next stop. There is fear when there is unfinished business – with moral debts owing and accounts with others ‘in the red’.
Yes, one day we will leave behind our loved ones, of that there is no doubt. Therefore, let me do the work now to transform my attachments into real love, to live a life of giving rather than taking, and to leave behind a legacy of a life spent joyfully, purposefully and lovefully.
It’s Time… to embrace death as the next step in the journey of life, to understand it as a beginning rather than an end. Close all debts with love and forgiveness. Don’t spend time chasing after things that cannot be carried away in the suitcase of your soul. Pack only sweet memories and you will travel ‘light’!