Death and dying
Our friend and Godbrother passed away (left his body) on Saturday in Sridhama Mayapur, India. He was a member of the community where I live for many years, building a house here, preaching, and helping out in so many ways. We are having a "celebration" in his honor tonight at 6:30 PM.
We could call it many things: a memorial service or something like that, yet it is really a celebration, especially since the way he left the world was so auspicious. He left during the holy month of Kartik, on an auspicious day, in the holy place of Lord Chaitanya's appearance (Mayapur) and surrounded by loving devotees chanting the holy name.
In addition, those of us who knew him well, saw over the last few years how Krishna was preparing him to leave the world with no attachments, and with his life in order. A number of difficult events--apparent reverses---were actually truly blessings for him, preparing him to be able to embrace leaving the world more easily.
Without going into the details, we who knew him and observed his life unfolding, really appreciate how expert Krishna is in preparing us for the ultimate test of life, namely death. So we can infer from that, that Krishna will do the same of all the devotees, though the exact details will differ according to the course of our life, and our particular nature.
Death, and dying are events I do think about a lot more now that I am nearing 60. That is not morbid, but actually recommended, so we don't waste our life in activities that don't help us enter more deeply into our Krishna consciousness.
Sure we have to know what we need to go through in terms of material things and desires, to be peaceful, satisfied, and grateful. Never the less our life's goal must always be spiritual advancement or Krishna consciousness. (Our perspective of life is also much different at 60 then it was at 20!!---let us hope so!!!)
In the secular world, we read of so many people on the verge of death who are so full of regrets. Regrets for things they did or didn't do, did or didn't say, etc. They are often not peaceful, but full of anxieties---not just to be dying---but to be dying with so many unresolved issues with loved ones, or unfulfilled plans.
So we can be sure that because of these regrets and unresolved issues, combined with the lack of spiritual practices, they are guaranteed another birth to have the chance to right what they see as deficient with their current life. If they knew that they might be more peaceful while dying, yet the real point is that we can never have a materially perfect life. There are always things we didn't do right, people we have wronged, attitudes that need to be corrected etc. And so we go on birth after birth in the cycle of birth and death (samsara).
The real solution is to see and act upon the idea that Krishna is our true well-wishing friend, ultimate beneficiary, and the goal of our life. He loves us unlimitedly, and we will find true fulfillment and peace through loving and serving him.
To the best of our ability we do want to have the best possible relationships with others, seeing them as part of Krishna, and deserving of our kindness. And we want to know that although we may be entrusted with so many things of the world, that actually Krishna is the owner and proprietor of everything. In any case the soul leaves behind everything at death.
At the same time, we are bound to make mistakes (consciously or unconsciously) with things or others, which we should sincerely regret and try to rectify if we become aware of them. By dedicating our life to Krishna's service, and trying our level best to love him and see him within everyone and everything, even if there are some unresolved discrepancies Krishna will cover for us.
Krishna says in many places in the Gita and the Bhagavat, that we shouldn't worry about whatever unknown karmic residues we carry. He takes charge of those who take refuge in him, although from view of the ordinary laws of nature we would be accountable. There must be laws for mercy to exist, and we are totally dependent on Krishna's mercy for success in our lives, and at the time of death.