August 2016 By Shivi Verma Shivi Verma realises that death is her friend, and not her enemy as she used to think Long ago, while reading a book on Vivekananda’s life, I came across a passage where Swamiji was approached by a wealthy and successful man in France, asking him what he could offer to a man like him who had everything. With his usual candour, Swamiji had replied, “I can teach you how to befriend death.” Either the concept was too profound for him to understand, or too daunting for him to address, and the gentleman took leave. But I was set thinking. Wasn’t death the greatest mystery and challenge of human life? To be faced with annihilation and seeing all your hard work and achievements go to dust? I remember fearing death for two reasons. For one I felt it was preceded by considerable physical pain. I saw people suffering in hospitals or dying horrible deaths in the form of accidents or gruesome murders. For another, the world beyond seemed dark, unfamiliar and scary. Then there were so many stories in the scriptures of people being subject to untold suffering in hellish planets for their bad deeds, or sent to heavenly planets as a reward for their good deeds. And it scared me. Though I knew I was a good person, I was not sure if I had accumulated enough good karma to deserve a heaven. I knew I had been very intolerant of certain things and really hurt people badly with my angry retaliation. Moreover, I was careless, undisciplined, possessed a lazy mind, and was highly touchy and irritable. Does one go to hell for these shortcomings, I wondered? This thought made me pull up my socks and determine to weed out every single thing in my consciousness that did not make me feel good about myself. Not surprisingly, I realised I had to be more tolerant and less reactive if my heart was to stay clean and happy. But all this was not so simple. My quest, my fears, my confusions, compounded by my overthinking, and lack of good spiritual guidance, coupled with a few deeply hurting episodes landed me in deep depression. I wanted to die to escape from the challenges and travails of life. Hell could not be worse than what I was going through internally. As I stood on the bridge over river Gomti, contemplating jumping into it to end my battle, suddenly I realised that there was no escape. I would have to return in another body to complete all the work and learning I was leaving unfinished. This thought made me retract my steps. I turned back. It was then that I decided come what may, I would not give up until I had found my guru, my calling, and my life purpose. And eventually I found all three through determination and His grace. My guru took permanent residence in my heart. And ever since I have discovered the Divine throbbing within me in the form of my heartbeat, speaking to me with every rising and falling breath. I have fallen in love with death. Death is a joyous place filled with deep love and celebration, waiting to receive me with open arms It’s no more an unfamiliar, spooky, unchartered territory to fear, or a place to escape to from an unpleasant life. It’s a joyous place filled with deep love and celebration waiting to receive me with open arms, bursting with joy that I came home successfully; having done and learnt all that I was supposed to in my earthly sojourn which was the realisation that the true nature of life as well as death is love and love alone. At this moment if I have to leave my body I would be more than willing to give it up for the grand union with All that it. And yet I have no resentment against life. I am equally happy to live and continue working for as long as God desires me to. So now I am happy to live, and happy to die. About the author : Deputy Editor with Life Positive, Shivi Verma is a devotee who found all her answers in loving God passionately.
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