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You’re Born, You Live, You Die….. Not really

You’re born you live, you die, not really. Western society avoids the topic of death. I find this odd since we all at some point are affected by the passing of loved ones and ultimately we ourselves will pass beyond our forms.

When someone close to us passes, we become curious and through our suffering muster the courage to bring up the topic of death with our family and friends. In an attempt to soothe our pain they may tell us to put it out of our minds or they may look at us worried that we could be slipping down the rabbit hole. It’s as if there is something wrong with us for even thinking about death. We are quietly instructed that death is something no one really knows about and definitely should not dwell on let alone speak about. Others suggest that people who put attention on considering what death is may have a death wish or are overly morbid. “Live life! Enjoy!” They’ll shout, feeling as though they are championing life itself. In our lives we may be told directly that it’s not good to focus on death. Some parents try reassure their children and give them a sense of safety by saying, “I will never die” or they’ll say “if I die” as if it is not a fact of their existence … but I ask you how can you avoid the reality of death?

My first experience with death had a great impact on me. It happened when I was 11 years old. My paternal grandfather, whom we called Pop came to visit me. Everyone loved Pop, he was Italian, tall, dashing, old world, and possessed the kind of energy and charm that made people notice him whenever he entered a room. He was debonair with white hair and had a handsome stature. I remember that he had kind eyes. That night we met, I recall noticing that he was preoccupied and seemed tired in a way I’d never seen before. Pop had just retired from being a judge and an attorney after almost 40 years. He was basically in fine health. That night together we headed to books and records to buy some routine last minute Christmas presents. I recall my grandfather, and I doing ordinary things together like comparing the nearby Shop Rite for a better price on wrapping paper. We chatted as we shopped and spoke of every day matters. Pop was old world Italian meets the American dream. He was like those old houses in small towns that you see where everything is made stable by the material that made it. In retrospect, in those days, I felt like he was just like one of those homes that he could never crumble and yet the very next afternoon as I returned home from school I was told that that morning Pop never woke up.

During that time, I would ask people where Pop had gone and each one would say, “He died and if there was a heaven he surely was in it.” It signified to me the depth of their respect and love for him, but did not inspire a sense of confidence in their understanding of what death was. This and other responses of theirs indicated to me moreover that the notion of death scared them profoundly. So I stopped asking them and began my quest to understand death and its process on my own. This journey led me to my guru, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati at a very young age. Guru ji taught me how to understand the meaning of life and to be curious about the journey of death.

I do not believe that studying or being curious about the process of death will make you, morbid, death obsessed, suicidal, or a downer. Being curious about your next stage of evolution is wise and interesting. The process of discovery is both intense and fun to work to understand. Instead of you’re born, you live, you die what if it looks like this: You incarnate into form, you grow your self on a variety of levels and when the time is ripe you shift beyond your physical form. This and much more is what Guru ji and yoga taught me…

© 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama