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Fear Of Death...


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We build a bridge across the river of what we call death, by the life we live here. Death does not mean an absolute break with this life and enrtance into wholly unaccustomed state. We may have all sorts of visionary dreams of heaven and hell, but seers and sages tell us that there is no gulf between these spheres.

Life here and life hereafter have an inseparable connection. One is the inevitable continuation of the other. Our present life well-lived gives us power over the life that is to come. Therefore, wise men regard their life as a sacred gift rather than something which has come by chance and which can be used for their own gratification. It does not rise and set with this physical span of existence. They know that this body is nothing but a garment, which they change when its usefulness is over. It is wrong therefore to cling to it, for when this one is worn out, the soul takes another form which is better suited for its further evolution.

Death may bring a brief interruption; but those who are already alive in a spiritual sense, they go onward and forward without delay. It is only those who are in slumber spiritually, even though they may appear to be physically awake, who find the gulf a very wide one.

mindIn our life here, therefore, we must prepare ourselves for the life beyond. If our thoughts and ambitions are saturated with material concerns, how can we suddenly appreciate something fine and lofty? Can we suddenly become unselfish? Can we suddenly become holy? It is through the habits of our present life that we acquire these qualities.

We must make ourselves ready for what comes hereafter by utilizing wisely all the opportunities given to us in this life. By the actions which we perform with diligence, simplicity, selfless devotion and consecration, we build a bridge, the bridge which will hold us securely when we cross; but it must be done by ourselves. Priests and Spiritual Teachers can only give us hints of what we should do, they may inspire us and stimulate us, but this age- long problem comes to each soul afresh, and each one must meet it individually. We must meet it bravely. We must prove our worth every instant-not only in big things. It is not merly our hour of prayer, but our activities, which determine our merit. Our prayer becomes useless when our activity is not in harmony with it.

Our spiritual life and our worldly life should go on together in perfect union. This is one of the great lessons we learn from the Indo- Aryan sages. They lay very little emphasis on the form of religion a man follows.

All fear springs from the narrow side of our nature: egotism, selfishness, greed and ignorance cause fear. The large-minded, selfless man is never afraid. There can be no fear in our hearts except when we are selfish. If a man walks with God and feels his heart as a part of God’s heart, nothing can frighten him. There are certain orthdox teachings which declare it to be sacrilegious to claim that we are a part of the Divine, but didn’t Christ teach this? Did he not say; ” Be ye perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”? Also in the Upanishads we read; “Thou are that”- thou art in essence one with infinite and unalterable being. Is not this the theme sounding through all spiritual teachings, that unless we become God like, we cannot enter in to conscious union with God; unless we become truly living, we cannot conquer death?

shirtsWe all have the power to conquer death, but not in physical sense. The material man would like to prolong his earthly life indefinitely. This is not possible. The combination of material elements which make up this physical body must dissolve sooner or later, but within this combination there is something finer, less destructible-the causal body, which will outlast this gross body. Our desires and feelings, our thirst for material things and our yearning, are all contained in this, and according to the measure of the spiritual or the material, we obtain what we deserve. Our destiny is wholly moulded by ourselves. You may say, if we mould our own destiny, what does God do? But even if we take it for granted that He moulds it, we still supply the material out of which He shapes it. He is not an arbitrary, partial, revengful Deity.

Our life is full of opportunities through which we may secure progress and freedom. If we do not take advantage of these opportunities, it is our own misfortune.

But nothing is lasting and we can always eradicate our failures. What we make we have the power to unmake. There is no mistake, which is so terrible, that it will overthrow the soul and condemn it to eternal perdition. Could an all-wise, all-loving Providence condemn any child of His to everlasting suffering? He grants us another life, another opportunity, another advantage, that we may still prove our worth and work out our salvation. So we must keep on. We must work to purify, sanctify and uplift ourselves, to escape from the bondage of ignorance.

God gives us ample time and opportunity. There is no reason to be anxious or hasty. In our modern life this constant nervous haste is one of the greatest drawbacks to spiritual progress. Man takes his life too hurriedly. Before he has formulated his ideas, he begins to act. In consequence, his action brings him bondage and must be undone in order to release him from that bondage. Let us cultivate a broader view of life. Through greater spiritual understanding, let us try to realize that our soul is not the thing of one day. Our body may rise and fall, but the soul is eternal and immortal. “Sword cannot wet it, fire cannot dry it,” Such is the nature of the soul which dwells within this body.

A materialist claims that this is not true. He says, sword can pierce me; and the wise man says, it cannot. Thus they are constantly in conflict. Now from where does this conflict come? It arises from the fact that one is looking without and the other is looking within. The one is dependent on material existence and the other is dependent on spiritual existence. But the conflict cannot last. The man who now insists,

“I am this body, I am Mr. So and So,” will some day throw off the shackles of ignorance and rise into knowledge of his true being. This is the real resurrection-when we are able to rise out of the grave of ignorance and materiality. Life does not hold very much joy for us if we are constantly fearful, driven by selfish desires, and overwhelmed by physical consciousness; real joy comes when we have a new and bigger vision. For one who has gained that, the gulf between life here and hereafter is destroryed.

krishnaThrough devotion to God and service to our fellow-being we prepare ourselves to pass from this life to that other, and our mind learns to dwell habitually on our Ideal. Sri Krishna tells us in the Bhagavad-Gita that what we think upon at the time of our bodily death determines our next state in evolution. Therefore, He admonishes us at all times to think on the Supreme and do our work faithfull, for if our mind and intellect are wholly dedicated to him beyond all doubt, we shall attain unto Him. But if our last thought moulds our destiny, then all we have to do, it would seem, is to make our last thought a perfect one. Can we do it? Only he who is striving for perfection now can hold a perfect thought at the moment of passing. Can a man suddenly think of something high and lofty? Does a man paint a master-piece suddenly? He strives for it. He thinks, he imagines, his whole being is on fire with it, and that fire consumes his limitations and he is able to paint a great picture. When our whole being is on fire with spiritual yearing, that fire burns off the blemishes of our nature and lofty thoughts become habitual with us.

Did our life begin with this bodily existence? That is not possible, for something cannot come out of nothing. Like a tree, it must spring from a seed sown somewhere. The feelings, tendencies and aspirations which we possess here must have had their origin in some previous state. They must be the result of past experiences and efforst. You may ask, who keeps the record of our past? Not God. Do not imagine that an investible Providence keeps a record and determines our reward and punishment. It is we, ourselves, who keep the record. It is our own character and condition of life which make up the record, every selfish and every loving thought, every good or bad deed is a part of the record and we receive the fruits of these.

Life offers us innumerable opportunities. We cannot complain that we lack them. We are placed just where we can advance most quickly. We may not believe it. We may think that some one else has a better chance than we have; but the all-wise One knows what is best suited for each one; and if we have true longing and love for the ideal, we shall take the material placed in our hand and out of it mould a beautiful life.

The lesson we have to learn is not how we can get better opportunities, but how we may make the best use of what we have. We get our place according to our merit. No one can force us to get any other place than the one we deserve. We cannot stay where we do not belong. Even if someone would put us in the most perfect region, we would find ourselves out of place there. Neither would we know how to speak the language of that region, nor would we be able to enjoy the freedom it might offer us.

Living this life in harmony with our spiritual ideal alone will enable us to benefit by the privileges of a higher sphere. All that is asked of us is to perform our daily tasks in a prayerful and consecrated attitude of mind. Then whatever the hereafter may owe us, will be given to us. It is better to ask nothing, because we cannot ask wisely. But we can do each thing with humility, with surrender and with the prayer “Thy will be done”. When we do this, we are safe. Oue human side always blunders, but this human side can be brought into such absolute harmony with the Divine that it will become permeated with the Divine life and move in rhythm with it.

Within us is immortal life. When we know that, how can we fear death? Our consciousness must be trained well on the immortal part in us, that is the only way to conquer the affictions of this mortal life. Until we possess the knowledge of our immortal nature, nothing can relieve us permanently from the fears and miseries which confront us. To know and to become-this alone will enable us to enter into that other life with perfect peace and freedom.

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