by Swami Bhaskarananda
As we grow from childhood to adulthood we become transformed almost beyond recognition physically and mentally. In our childhood, we have many childish aspirations, joys, sorrows and conflicts—all of which at the time seem to be very important and real to us. But when we grow up we realize that most of the experiences of our childhood were not as important as they seemed to be when we were young.
But it cannot be denied that all such experiences helped us to grow up and become what we are now. None of the experiences was useless. Every experience, good or bad helped us to become a little bit wiser. Even though our adult experiences, aspirations, joys, sorrows and conflicts are very different from those of our childhood, still, the cumulative effect of our childhood experiences have contributed a lot to our adult behavior. Therefore, every experience is valuable. In the final analysis even the wrong things that we do, and the mistakes that we commit, contribute to our mental growth.
According to our tradition, life is a wonderful opportunity to grow up mentally more than physically. The body, no matter how dear it may be to us, is impermanent. The body must cease to exist sooner or later. This unfortunate fact is equally true for the rich and the poor, the famous and the infamous, the righteous and the unrighteous. And there is no one in this world that is completely righteous or completely unrighteous. Everyone commits some mistakes, does some wrong things, side by side with actions that are done rightly and correctly. Eventually our bodies have to be given up willy-nilly.
But even if we lose our body, our mind and soul live on. Mind enriched by the bitter and sweet experiences acquired during one’s different incarnations still continues to exist, becomes richer in wisdom and thus can eventually see the Reality from a totally different perspective. With the attachment to the physical body gone, the mind can see things more clearly than ever before and can experience that Reality which normally eludes one who is attached to many worldly activities through clinging to one’s body.
The afterlife experience for an average person is bound to be much better than the experience here on earth. At that time there is no physical suffering. The departed soul can travel anywhere at will and can even help the bereaved near and dear ones in a spiritual way.
Therefore, death is not something that has to be dreaded. Death is only a transition from one state of existence to another. Through death one gets a kind of freedom that is impossible for one to enjoy while one is in the body.
But as long as one is alive one should try to take care of one’s body as much as is possible. But when all has been done it is best to leave everything to God in a spirit of surrender.
According to all religions committing suicide is extremely harmful. Those who commit suicide go through intense suffering after their death. Therefore, one should endure all the sufferings with dignity until a natural death comes.
Whether one believes it or not, God is very real and He cares for each one of His children. He does not have stepchildren. Some of His children are more exalted than others—nevertheless, God’s love is not any less for those who are not as exalted. In fact, God loves those even more who are relatively weak and helpless. Therefore, it is good for us to know that God cares for us more than any earthly parents can ever do. God will never abandon us. He takes us through our life’s experiences bitter or sweet in order that we can grow up to be wiser, better and purer every moment of our life. Eventually, he will surely give us a place in His bosom because He loves us.
PRAYER FOR THE TERMINALLY ILL
God, I do not know for sure whether you exist or not.
But the saints and prophets of all religions say that you do exist.
Their words can never be untrue.
Please listen to my prayer:
I have done many wrong things in my life
And I have done a few right things as well.
Please ignore them all.
And protect me with the shield of your forgiveness, love and compassion.
I may know it or not, but I must be one of your true children
—No matter how misguided I have been.
Please put me on your lap
And make me free from all fear and earthly limitations.
Please let me know that I have been always your very own
And reassure me that as my true parent you will never abandon me.