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Understanding Death

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

16 August 1978

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Do not resent or refuse grief at any time. Let the mind, fed by it, bred by it, grow deeper and subtler. Let it rise to a loftier dimension, until at last it comes face to face with fulfillment in the blazing grace of pure wisdom bringing with it the assurance of immortality.

Most revered Gurudev,

With a heavy heart, I am writing this letter. I have just lost my saintly father. Before his sad demise I was the son of a learned, considerate father; now I am a fatherless, unfortunate son. My sorrow knows no bounds. It is quite impossible for me to express in words how much my father meant to me. My only consolation is that before his last breath he blessed me and wished my all-round peace and happiness.

In the absence of my father, you are my father. So please console your helpless unfortunate son, bless him. At this moment you are the only support. You alone can help me in continuing my family life.

At this painful stage of my life, I am requesting you for one thing. I do not know the contents of your book “Quietitude of the Mind.” I believe this book may give me peace in this painful and critical stage of my life. So, I pray to you to send me a copy of the book before my father’s funeral rites are over.

With regards,
Your unfortunate son.

***

Dear and blessed son,

Harih Om Tat Sat. Your letter of the 12th came here yesterday. I am writing to you straightway. The book you asked for has been mailed already. It must reach you in time. From that book you will imbibe the lesson of immortality, and your own life from now on will enable you to actualise this lesson. The fulfillment lies in learning about the truth in time and then in realizing it by a dedicated pursuit.

I understand your trouble and what the mind misses. But dear son, your father has fulfilled his role as a father in finally shedding this body, governed by the laws of the same Nature which at one time caused the event of his body’s birth. Nature is full and carries her harmony in everything and at every time. Sometimes her course is queer. For, queerness also has a place in her infinite variety. Should it not? Think well.

By continuing to live indefinitely, no purpose is served. In living and then in dying, in that alone, rests the wholesome purpose and duty of any human being. Does it strike as cruel or strange to you? Even then let me give you a bit of it, as perhaps your natural father has given! Will you resent it?

Let me ask: You are a father now to your children as your father was to you. Will you avoid later in life the fate which your father you say has caused to you now? Can you forestall your own death, and the resultant loss to your children? Why then construe unnecessary misery in what, through your father’s death, has befallen your lot? Better wisdom lies in assimilating the event, understanding it in its own place, and developing a larger, deeper and higher mind and emotions. Nature is determined to breathe into us a full range of emotions with the one aim of making our perception comprehensive, all-embracing. She has designed love, resentment, compassion, pain, grief, agony and what not, to be enjoyed or suffered from time to time. Every emotion has its own gift or curse appended to it. And through each the mind is destined to grow more and more mature and seasoned. The ultimate abode for the mind is the one called Shanti and Tripti (peace and contentment). In Shanti, Tripti is natural and effortless in attainment. Shanti is also an emotion, a very refined one, subtle, but extremely powerful. No human soul will find its equipoise, freedom or release except on reaching this subtle state of Shanti.

The grief which you are put to now is welcome in that it compels you to seek clarity and contentment through wisdom and realization. I have often said that in many cases the living relations are not able to teach the full import of life. Only the dead give the more valuable and lasting lessons to the living. Do not resent or refuse grief at any time. Let the mind, fed by it, bred by it, grow deeper and subtler. Let it rise to a loftier dimension, until at last it comes face to face with fulfillment in the blazing grace of pure wisdom bringing with it the assurance of immortality.

About your father: I am happy he was saintly, and left the world as a saintly one to his son. It is a very rare privilege to be so. Generally, a saint is never taken to be so by his blood relations. Even after death, the fact of blood-relationship eclipses the nobler reflections in the minds of the survivors. But in your case there is a definite difference. It is welcome in all ways.

As a son of his, you have a lot of benefits and gains. The thought that your father was so noble a soul is itself elevating. That will bless you more than it did while he was alive. What your father wished you to be in life and in spiritual evolution, try to be wholeheartedly. This must please your father, if he were by your side, and will be an ample reward for yourself. Even by ‘death’, the saintly do teach the living. Learn that lesson too, and be guided by it.

Surely such a saintly one’s soul must ever rest peacefully. The thought of God is itself the medicine for peace. One who has left his mortal frame upon this earth with God on the lips and in the heart is the most blessed. Let many more have this rare blessing.

I don’t see you as unfortunate. You are one of the most fortunate. Maybe, it will take some time for you to realize this truth.

Should I say anything more? Words are said, heard or read. The better part lies in rumination, which must lead to the next step of feeling and experience. Until you overcome the grief on account of death, this ‘father’ will be ringing in your ears:

Dear son, will you be able to avoid what your father has done? Then, why suffer beyond measure? By grieving like this, you will be saddening your father, if he were to come before you. As for me, though it pains me, yet I shall allow you to grieve and sob, a little every time, until you gradually become sublimated by the very process. And then, you must tell me: “Ah, I am all right. The release has come to me. I am fulfilled.”

Until then, let me withdraw, giving you my love and Sivāśis.

Yours
Swamiji

1978

-From the book–“Be what you are”

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“In living and then in dying, in that alone, rests the wholesome purpose and duty of any human being.”

“The grief which you are put to now is welcome in that it compels you to seek clarity and contentment through wisdom and realization.”

“I understand your trouble and what the mind misses. But dear son, your father has fulfilled his role as a father in finally shedding this body, governed by the laws of the same Nature which at one time caused the event of his body's birth. ”

“What your father wished you to be in life and in spiritual evolution, try to be wholeheartedly. This must please your father, if he were by your side, and will be an ample reward for yourself. Even by 'death', the saintly do teach the living. Learn that lesson too, and be guided by it.”

“ As for me, though it pains me, yet I shall allow you to grieve and sob, a little every time, until you gradually become sublimated by the very process. ”

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