At my death do not lament our separation …
as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time,
nor does it come into being again when the body is created.
The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless,
and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.
Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
death, as men call him, ends what they call men
–but beauty is more now than dying’s when…
~ e. e. cummings
“The dewdrop belongs to the sea.
Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature;
but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea.
So it is with your life. United to God you become immortal.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Eternal Life is gained by utter abandonment of one’s own life.
When God appears to His ardent lover the lover is absorbed in Him, and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows, and when the sun shines in glory
the shadows vanish away.
He is a true lover to God to whom God says,
“I am thine, and thou art mine! ”
The biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.
As countless millions traditionally commemorate the rebirth and resurrection of Jesus following his physical death by crucifixion, let us contemplate the deep significance of that story. Whether we regard it as historic or metaphoric, the story raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.
Physical death is inevitable, but Life is perpetual.
Death of the physical body is inevitable and unavoidable. After birth, “no matter how we strive, no body leaves alive.” Uncertainty exists only about time of death, and about whether there is conscious life after physical death.
For millennia seers, saints, philosophers and mystics have addressed perennial questions of life after physical death and of our true identity and reality. Since the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein revolutionized Western science with his theories of special and general relativity, quantum physicists and other non-materialistic scientists have begun confirming ancient mystical insights.
Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD coined the term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] in his 1975 best-selling book “Life After Life”. Since then NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by millions who claim to have experienced them. And some leading-edge non-materialist scientists have cited testimonies about NDE’s and other extraordinary mystical experiences as evidence that consciousness survives physical death.
For example, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, respected scientist, author and pioneering authority on death and dying, believed in survival of spirit after physical death, and used butterflies as symbols of the death process.
Soon after World War II, she visited the children’s barracks at the Maidanek concentration camp in Poland. There, amazingly, she observed hundreds of butterfly images drawn by the inmate children on the walls, even with pebbles and fingernails. Spellbound by the sight of butterflies drawn on the walls, she wondered why they were there and what they meant.
Twenty-five years later, after listening to hundreds of terminally ill patients, she finally realized that the imprisoned children must have known that they were going to die and intuitively were using butterflies as images of the physical death process. Dr. Kubler-Ross thus explained in The Wheel of Life, A Memoir of Living and Dying:
“They knew that soon they would become butterflies. Once dead, they would be out of that hellish place. Not tortured anymore. Not separated from their families. Not sent to gas chambers. None of this gruesome life mattered anymore. Soon they would leave their bodies the way a butterfly leaves its cocoon. And I realized that was the message they wanted to leave for future generations. . . .It also provided the imagery that I would use for the rest of my career to explain the process of death and dying.”
Dr. Kubler-Ross’s writings have inspired many other non-materialist scientists who have followed her lead. Also, of great importance in helping us understand whether spirit survives physical death were the ground breaking scientific studies by Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who for forty years studied children world-wide who spontaneously remembered past lives. Dr. Stevenson objectively validated and documented about twelve hundred such cases.
What survives physical death?
If – like snowflakes – each of us manifests as an absolutely unique physical form, what is it about us that can survive death of that unique form, and be “born and reborn”?
“Reincarnation” is often understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently uniquely circumscribed spirit – to another body after physical death.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Hinduism’s most cited ancient scripture, Divine Avatar Krishna instructs Prince Arjuna that:
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”; “The soul never takes birth and never dies” but “when the body is destroyed” or when “giving up old and worn out bodies . . [it] accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2
Though in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death, Buddhists believe in rebirth. Like most mystics, Buddhists say that in addition to our physical body, we are enveloped by subtle astral and mental bodies, which survive death of the physical body and become consciously associated with successive physical bodies.
Thus the Dalai Lama says that:
“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another. Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
A detailed and compelling description of afterlife can be found in “Autobiography of a Yogi”, by Paramahansa Yogananda, Chapter 43 – The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar . There Yogananda credibly recounts a long discussion with his physically deceased Guru, Sri Yukteswar, who – like Jesus – resurrected to explain to his disciple Yogananda many details of afterlife. [You can read that extraordinarily fascinating story at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Autobiography_of_a_Yogi/Chapter_43
Many psychics say that on physical death “we” survive and enter different realms. eg. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm
But ancient Vedic and Buddhist non-dualism philosophies (“Advaita”;”Advaya”) have for millennia taught that this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”… .
“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real,
so he escapes the suffering.”
Notwithstanding the Buddha’s non-dualist teachings, the Dalai Lama says he practices death and rebirth eight times daily. And, as Tibetan Bodhisattva of Compassion, he intends to return until all sentient beings are liberated from suffering.
If you had the option of a one-way exit pass to ‘heaven’, would you volunteer as a Bodhisattva to come back to this crazy world?
Vivekananda and Einstein.
The ancient Eastern non-dualism teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda, principal disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, at and after the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.
In an eloquent New York City lecture called “The Real and the Apparent Man”, Vivekananda equated maya or samsara with “time, space, and causation” and presciently predicted scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence. He said:
“According to the Advaita philosophy, ..this Maya or ignorance–or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, time, space, and causality–is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as any one thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane.”
“What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go? “So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.”
“Your own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga
Revered 20th century Indian sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi – who was a renowned exponent of non-dualism – taught that for self-realized beings there is no reincarnation, but that reincarnation exists until self-realization – that self-realization reveals this entire world of space/time/causality as illusionary maya or samsara. Thus, responding to the question: “Is reincarnation true?”, he said:
“Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.”
Einstein’s revolutionary non-mechanistic science and unconventional religious ideas were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, because they questioned the substantiality of matter, the ultimate reality of space, time and causality, and reincarnation. Like Vivekananda, Einstein said:
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”
“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”
“There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.”
“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”
“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.”
~ Albert Einstein
Whatever our ideas about death, afterlife or rebirth, may we – in this precious human lifetime on our precious planet Earth – realize together our common dream for a better world, where everyone everywhere is happy.
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”
AND SO IT SHALL BE!
Ron’s Explanations and Reflections on Reincarnations and Resurrections.
As an octogenarian, I have long reflected upon crucially important perennial questions concerning life, death, afterlife, and rebirth. And I’ve thereby been blessed to realize that what we call “life” continues eternally after inevitable physical death.
Until my mid-life spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my mortal body, its thoughts and its story, and I assumed that death of the body ended life. So I had no knowledge, opinion or belief concerning reincarnation or afterlife in ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’, or of an immortal “soul”.
Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife: I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including my maternal grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi, my first inner spiritual guide.
So, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Then, on meeting my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; and, that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.
Inspired by Guruji, I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma. Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays, quotes and poems on these subjects. (See, e.g., https://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/ ;https://sillysutras.com/category/life-and-death/; https://sillysutras.com/category/reincarnation/ )
Ultimately I’ve concluded that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )
Consequently, I’ve become ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable and perhaps imminent bodily death – a great blessing.
Moreover, I’ve become persuaded that from a rare non-dualistic timeless ‘Buddha’s eye view’ all our supposedly separate incarnations, emanations or appearances can be seen concurrently – formed like ink blots in a ‘big bang’ Rorschach test; but that until we become Buddhas we are karmically challenged to live each space/time lifetime as lovingly and skillfully as possible, while ever mindful that we are not mortal separate entities but indivisible formless and eternal Infinite Potentiality.
To encourage our deep insights on perennial questions of afterlife and reincarnation, like “Who am I?” and “What is death?”, I have shared the foregoing writings.
On Easter and every day, may they help us discover within ever expanding fulfillment and happiness during our precious ephemeral lifetimes on planet Earth.
And so may it be!
2020 Coronavirus Epilogue.
Since last year’s April equinox holidays, we have entered an extraordinarily epochal and unprecedented “new normal” era of worldwide coronavirus pandemic panic, in which billions of people on “spaceship Earth” are gripped by fear of death, illness or imminent calamity, and are voluntarily or compulsorily refraining from normal economic and social activities, and sheltering at home rather than reverently joining together to commemorate the holidays.
Paradoxically, this is a time of both immense threat and epochal opportunity; an especially appropriate time for us to deeply reconsider our life purposes and priorities as sentient Earth beings.
Because pervasive panic and fear precludes us from prudently addressing current quandaries, it is crucial that we transcend such fears in order to skillfully solve our potentially disastrous problems.
To help us overcome our fears, I have reposted the foregoing essay and key quotations. In reviewing them, I sincerely invite our deep contemplation of possible eternal life after physical death, and of rebirth or afterlife in physical or subtle planes.
May such reflection encourage us to fearlessly follow our conscience without panic or worry about inevitable bodily death, and thereby to lead ever happier lives.
And so may it be!
“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”
~ Patanjali, Yoga Sutras
“Silence is the language of God,
all else is poor translation.”
“Love said to me, there is nothing that is not me.
“When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.” …… “Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Silence is the communing of a conscious soul with itself.
If the soul attend for a moment to its own infinity,
then and there is silence.
She is audible to all men, at all times, in all places, and if we will
we may always hearken to her admonitions.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
There is something greater and purer than what the mouth utters. Silence illuminates our souls, whispers to our hearts, and brings them together. Silence separates us from ourselves, makes us sail the firmament of spirit, and brings us closer to heaven.
~ Kahlil Gibran
“Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.”..
“Let silence take you to the core of life.”
In Silence Sweet
In silence sweet
we may retreat
from every care and woe,
and there we’ll learn in perfect peace
all we need to know.
In silence sweet
we shall meet
the thrill of ecstasy.
and thus we’ll learn in perfect peace
we’ve nothing more to be.
In silence sweet
we shall find
all we’ve ever sought.
And thus we’ll learn in perfect peace
that all our wants were naught.
In silence sweet
we shall see
that everything is light.
And thus we’ll learn in perfect peace
there’s naught to fear but fright.
In silence sweet
we shall greet
our own true Self and Soul.
And thus we’ll learn in perfect peace
we are the timeless Whole.
In silence sweet
we shall enjoy
For perfect peace we e’er shall be,
Peace no mortal knows.
Ron’s audio recitation of “In Silence Sweet”
Ron’s dedication and explanation of “In Silence Sweet”
The foregoing poem “ In Silence Sweet” is dedicated to my beloved Guruji, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusundandas, whose blessings inspired and permitted its composition.
In recent “Why Be Here Now?” memoirs I proposed that the essence of all spiritual teachings is to exist in thoughtless presence (as Universal Awareness or Cosmic Consciousness) rather than in the past or future, as an ego-mind story of a supposedly limited and separate mortal being. And I recounted how by faithfully following (for many years) my beloved Guruji’s emphatic instructions to “meditate regularly” I’m learning about living with a stilled mind.
Today to clarify those memoirs I’ll try to explain why much more important than Guruji’s spoken words to ‘meditate regularly’ was his immense and intense spiritual Presence, demonstrating his realization of Truth; his silent cosmic energy emanations from an infinitely enormous life-force energy field, which Hindus call Kundalini “Shakti” .
“Kundalini is the cosmic power in individual bodies.
It is not a material force like electricity, magnetism, centripetal or centrifugal force.
It is a spiritual potential, Shakti, or cosmic power.
In reality it has no form.”
~ Sri Swami Sivananda
Experiencing Guruji’s Shakti.
After my midlife spiritual awakening experience I became claresentient, and e.g. began seeing and sensing human auras. (See https://sillysutras.com/kundalini-kriyas-a-potpourri-of-peek-experiences-rons-memoirs/) So on meeting Guruji two years later, I was immediately impressed with his extraordinarily powerful emanations of “shakti”, and his extremely luminous silvery subtle aura unlike any other I’d ever before perceived.
Gradually thereafter I learned that Guruji’s energy field was independent of his physical vitality, and even his physical presence. Moreover, I learned that Guruji not only emanated intense shakti but that he was one of those rare yogis who could intentionally transfer it to others not only by touch, gaze, or mantra sound, but also by thought. Thus on occasion I experienced Guruji’s shakti even when not in his physical proximity. And I have experienced intense shakti emanating from Guruji’s body even when it was very weak.
My most amazing and memorable experience of Guruji’s immense energy Presence happened two years after Guruji had left my San Francisco apartment in 1980, and returned (physically debilitated) to India.
In January/February, 1982, for the first time in this lifetime I had journeyed to India on a guided spiritual pilgrimage tour with Sant Keshadavadas, a devotional Indian spiritual teacher then known as a ‘singing saint’. That guided tour was, and remains for me, the most important trip of this lifetime. (See https://sillysutras.com/synchronicity-story-miraculously-manifesting-memories-of-a-spiritual-pilgrimage-to-india-and-nepal/ )
Throughout the pilgrimage tour I was constantly seeking to advance my spiritual sadhana , as a quest for “enlightenment”. By the time the tour ended in New Delhi, I was quite weary from following the intense travel schedule. But I was determined and anxious to remain in India to pay my respects to my beloved Guruji, and to receive his guidance and blessings for my sadhana.
Guruji’s body was then approximately 104 years old and physically very weak. So he was living reclusively with Indian devotees, who cared for him as he recuperated. Because of his debility Guruji’s whereabouts were kept confidential, and known to only by a few trusted devotees. Only after ‘miraculously’ overcoming an amazing series of extraordinary obstacles was I finally able to locate and visit Guruji in a small Gujarati town, Godhra.
There my aspirations for his guidance and blessings were fulfilled in an amazing silent satsang where Guruji spoke only two unforgettable words: “Meditate regularly.”
(For details see https://sillysutras.com/a-long-but-short-guruji-satsang-story-rons-memoirs/; satsang is a sanskrit word meaning being with a sat guru or being with “highest Truth” – https://endless-satsang.com/nondual-advaita-satsang.htm)
On arrival at the house where Guruji was staying, I was pleasantly greeted and told that Guruji was then in the garden, but that he would soon come in to greet me. I was brought into a lovely altar room with fresh cut flowers and a prominent throne-like seat for Guruji. As I waited there, my ‘monkey mind’ became quite active.
Despite many wondrous spiritual experiences during the pilgrimage tour, I was busily dialoguing with “the voice in my head” about my possible questions for Guruji. So when Guruji entered the altar room to sit enthroned in front of me, I was feeling far from mentally peaceful, as I sat there waiting for him to entertain my anticipated questions.
He appeared much weaker than when I first met him four years earlier. But he was emanating indescribably intense ‘shakti’ life-force energy, which seemed as powerful as ever. His energy field was so extraordinarily immense that it soon enveloped mine, and transformed my previously agitated state of mind. So, as I sat there gazing at Guruji, I began harmoniously resonating with his supernal ‘shakti’ life-force, and thereby feeling unusual peace of mind.
Thus my questions for Guruji gradually seemed to melt into silent infinite awareness. But they didn’t all dissolve. So after sitting there in silence for a while, I asked Guruji a preliminary question. But he remained silent, and kept intently gazing at me without answering the question.
Whereupon, supposing that he might not have understood me, I asked Guruji another question. But he still remained silent. Finally, as my appointment time was about to expire, I desperately exclaimed:
“Guruji, I’ve come halfway around the world to see you.
Please tell me what I should do for my sadhana.”
After a pregnant pause, Guruji at long last replied:
We had no further dialogue. And soon I was politely informed by Guruji’s host that it was time to leave.
As you might imagine, the unforgettable memory of Guruji’s profoundly silent ‘satsang’ has remained indelibly imprinted in my heart and on my ‘mental software’. His words “Meditate regularly!” were not merely spiritual instructions, but a timeless heartfelt blessing or sankalpa that my deepest aspirations for Truth might be fulfilled through regular meditation!
Moreover, beyond words but only with deep mental silence, Guruji eloquently demonstrated that the eternal LOVE we all seek is within each of us; and he ineffably validated Rumi’s profound observation that
“Silence is the language of God,
all else is poor translation.”
Since 1982, by faithfully following my beloved Guruji’s emphatic instructions and blessing for me to “meditate regularly”, I’ve been learning about living with a stilled mind.
Perhaps fifteen years after that unforgettable satsang, my ‘monkey mind’ seemed to cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me the option of using it or not, and of choosing to enjoy moments of choiceless awareness. Instead of constantly swinging backwards and forwards, like a pendulum, between the past and the future, it seemed to rest in a sort of ‘default position’ when not activated by conscious thoughts.
Whereupon I’ve enjoyed precious moments of Being with a stilled mind which have transformed my experience and deep understanding of incarnate human life, in previously unimagined ways.
In 1996 (after Guruji’s 1994 mahasamadhi and during my extended post-retirement period of reclusiveness), I was inspired to compose the above poem “In Silence Sweet”, which only hints at Guruji’s profound blessing bestowed in that unforgettable silent ‘satsang’.
In grateful dedication to Guruji, I have republished the poem today with the foregoing authoritative explanatory quotations.
May everyone everywhere enjoy the blessings of Silence Sweet and of those quotations.
And so may it be!
The eyes are the windows of the soul.
~ Traditional Proverb
“The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun.”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier, My Psalm
“Open thine eyes — bright windows to the soul”
~ William Hetherington
“It is the soul itself which sees and hears,
and not those parts which are, as it were,
but windows to the soul…”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
“There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, …
beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in your Heart.”
~ Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7
“Let my soul smile through my heart
and my heart smile through my eyes,
that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
The Eyes Have It – It’s In Every One of Us
The eyes are the world’s windows to the soul;
and the soul’s windows to the world.
The eyes gleam with Eternal Light –
of Infinite Awareness –
our Common “I”ness.
The Eyes Have It.
So, let us open our hearts to the Infinite,
through gleaming eyes of others.
Ever remembering that –
“It’s In Every One of Us”.
“It’s In Every One of Us” – David Pomeranz
Photos & Video by Wernher Krutein.
Lyrics Refrain: “It’s In Every One of Us”
It’s in every one of us to be wise
Find your heart
And open up both your eyes
We can all know every thing
Without ever knowing why
It’s in every one of us by and by