By Nandita Sarkar
Nan Umrigar’s trio of books, Sounds of Silence, Listening to the Silence and her most recent, Beyond the Silence, all chronicle her contact with her departed son, Karl, through automatic writing, and tell us that there is life beyond death, says Nandini Sarkar
|Nan with Rhea Pillai at the launch of her third book, Beyond the Silence|
I have never forgotten the poignant memory of waiting at the hospital with a friend, whose husband was diagnosed with third stage liver cancer. As we stood in the foyer, our two young sons played tic-tac-toe. My heart went out to my friend’s son who was playing, completely oblivious to his father’s imminent death. In a strange twist of fate, she was also six months pregnant with their second child. I wondered what message we would have for her unborn second child, who would never see its father. Each incident of death makes us feel helpless, numb; not knowing what to say or what to do for those who have been left behind, their lives in upheaval.
Perhaps this is why Nan Umrigar’s latest book, Beyond the Silence, remains as relevant today, as powerful a trigger to prepare us for inevitable death, as did her earlier books, Sounds of Silence and Listening to the Silence. I find the titles of Nan’s three books very evocative. Preparing for death or understanding how to cope with death is not waiting passively for time to heal memories, and going through life dispiritedly or mechanically. It is neither about finding new relationships to replace the old, nor learning to do things that our departed ones had done for us. In the ultimate analysis, it is not even about contacting departed souls through psychic mediums, tantriks, the Ouija board, or séances. More than any other experience, death brings with it the message of stillness. Anyone who has experienced the death of dear ones has experienced a profound stillness. In the midst of the clamour of visitors and friends, funerals and ceremonies, they have momentarily felt a great stillness. Preparing for the death of loved ones or our own selves, if one is afraid of dying, is actually preparing to enter this profound, healing silence daily, through meditation. If someone had told me this 10 years ago, I would have scoffed. Death is such a raw, human experience, I would have argued, how can passive meditation heal the psychological wounds? When we want to contact our dear ones ASAP in the other world, how can sitting with our eyes closed help? As Nan’s books show, I was wrong.
Excerpts from the interview:
From Sounds of Silence to Listening to the Silence to Beyond the Silence, how will readers benefit by following you over this journey of experiences with the other world?
When my son Karl passed away in a riding accident, I was devastated. That is what led me to Mrs Khorshed Bhavnagari and that is where I first heard about auto-writing (a form of writing that connects you to the other side). I began auto writing with Karl, and was led to the spiritual master, Meher Baba.
Sounds of Silence is my story – it is the story of how I came to accept Karl’s passing and became able to get on with my life, with the tender love coming from Meher Baba, whom Karl called his Father in Heaven. Then other people started coming to me for help and they were helped in mysterious ways, and that inspired me to write my second book, Listening to the Silence. It is everyone else’s story of how they surmounted their problems with the loving and caring guidance from the other realm. The book appealed to many and reached out to all those who were in trouble and that motivated me to write my third book, Beyond the Silence. It goes deeper into the spiritual aspect of life and reaches the heart rather than the mind.
You contact Karl, your son, in the other world, through automatic writing. How can interested readers learn automatic writing? In your books, all those who came to you were helped by you. What about those who cannot meet you in Pune?
I do not give personal on-the-spot readings. I write at my own time and in the privacy of my own home, and send the replies mostly by email or by post. Interested readers do not have to come to Pune to meet me. If they want to learn to write, they have to follow a certain procedure. However, I do not encourage all to get into auto writing, especially the very young because it may stop you from making your own decisions in life, and may tempt you to accept all the answers from the other world – and that is not what life is all about. It is about making your own choices in life, and learning your lessons from it.
What mental preparation is needed to contact souls in the other world? Isn’t there a danger that by constantly thinking about the other world, we might lose sight of this one?
There is no real mental preparation necessary except for lighting a candle, saying a prayer, quietening your mind and connecting with your loved one. However, most importantly, a link has to be made first by someone who is already writing and the date and timing confirmed. In auto-writing, you do not go into trance nor do you lose control of yourself in any way. One should not be thinking constantly about the other world, and lose sight of this one. On the contrary, we are told that performance of our daily duties and discharging of our worldly responsibilities in an honest and sincere manner, are of paramount importance to our spiritual progress, and our journey towards the Truth.
Beyond the comfort of knowing that our dear departed ones are safe in the other world, what are the benefits of being in contact with the other world? Do we become wiser, more intuitive, better guided in our decisions?
The benefits, first of all and most important of all, is that you know now for sure that life does not end with physical death, and that the soul continues its onward journey in the other realm. In addition, re-establishing a love connection with your loved ones on the other side gives you a sense of relief, joy and contentment. The messages and guidance that pour out from the other side lay emphasis on the positive aspects of life – love, forgiveness, gratitude, harmony, unity, support. They never speak of punishment, revenge, enmity, condemnation. To that extent, they guide how one should try to conduct one’s life and handle life situations, which are mostly of our own making. They help us become a wiser and better person – a more balanced person. That is the benefit. Time and again, the emphasis has been on the fact that ‘We are all one’ and that encourages us to reach out to others in distress. As Meher Baba says, “Real happiness lies in making others happy.
How can meditation help us to contact our dear departed in the other world? What advice or teachings have you received from Meher Baba on this?
During his advent, Avatar Meher Baba laid emphasis on natural and spontaneous (sahaj) meditation, which can be practised by anyone by wholehearted remembrance of him (or any past master) as often as we can in the midst of our daily activities. He wants us to make him our constant companion in all that we think, feel, speak and do. In short, to make our finite, separative, and self-centric ego subservient to that of the master. Meher Baba stated that during the avataric period, such as the one we now live in, ‘love’ and ‘direct relatedness’ to the avatar is the high road of all roads leading to inner spiritual development. Therefore, he has not encouraged the traditional and formal forms of meditation, which may, instead of emancipating the consciousness of the soul, enhance the limited ego and bind it further, if not done under the direct and active supervision and guidance of a real master.
Having said that, a tranquil state of mind brought about by whatever means, is always conducive for the spirit contact.
How relevant is Meher Baba’s message today? As someone who was never interested in spirituality but only took up automatic writing after a painful bereavement, have you transformed spiritually through this contact with Meher Baba and Karl in the astral world?
Meher Baba’s message of love, truth and unity of all life is an eternal one and is as much relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. I am still the same person externally – the same Nan who lost her child so many years ago. I still socialise, go out, live a happy life with my family and friends. Thanks to Baba and the knowledge that came through Karl, coupled with my firsthand experience, I now know that Baba is a loving, kind, and understanding God – and also full of fun and frolic. That he is not a condemning or a punishing God with a stick in his hand – but a benevolent, merciful and ever-forgiving God. I also realised that all that we go through is because of the Law of Karma, and God is not to be blamed for our predicaments, as we ourselves have caused it through past karmas. I still talk to Karl every day mostly to help other people, but sometimes also for myself. I still receive loving messages and signs from him and look forward to the new day with great anticipation. I cannot say whether I have transformed spiritually, but I do feel a difference in the way I perceive life and the world around me. I now feel the loving presence of Beloved Baba always with me.
Do you look forward to going to the other world? How will Meher Baba and Karl guide your passage? Are you afraid to pass on?
Yes, of course, I look forward to joining all my loved ones in the spirit world. I am especially keen to meet Beloved Baba who is responsible for making me accept all that has happened in my life since the passing of Karl, and Karl would guide me in his own unique and beautiful way when I pass over. No, I am not afraid to pass on – for everyone has to come and go – that is life! In addition, I would encourage others to be unafraid of death for, from my many years of writing, I have come to know that death releases one from all our maladies, and is a beautiful experience.
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