Mar 17, 2012

EXIT



Warning: Dark post ahead. My 'lady hormones' have been acting up, and I've been kinda down lately. So, you might not want to read if you're looking for some cheer. : (

A fear of the unknown has kept me company pretty much ever since I can remember. A fear of insects also, but in a way, they're unknown too. Know what I mean?


Img Credit: blvesboy

It's hard to put a pin on exactly what I fear the most, but the one concept that I've had a hard time wrapping my mind around is Death. That's right, I fear death. Not so much dying, as death itself. I'm not afraid of the fact that my life has an expiry date, but there are other things about death that I feel highly uncomfortable with.

Like losing my loved ones, for instance. I know death is inevitable, but for some reason in my life, I haven't really lost the people I love. Yet. The only person I loved who died was my Grandfather, but I was very young and we weren't in the same country, so I didn't even see his body or his funeral. That was a surreal time, I don't think I really understood most of it. I just figured out I wouldn't be seeing him anymore on my next visit to India.  Apart from him, I haven't yet known death, up close and personal.

So that's what makes it all the more scary for me. I fear losing my family, more than anything else in the world. No, I don't go around acting like a paranoid freak, but deep down inside I have reason to believe that I am one. There are moments when I imagine what it would be like if my mom or dad or M died, what it would be like to look at their lifeless bodies, what it would be like to go through every moment of life without their company, their smiles, their frowns and their words. At times like these, I can truly feel the pain of their loss, even though they're very much still here. It's like a tight grip on my chest, a strange breathlessness, unstoppable tears. Even the person whose loss I'm mourning couldn't comfort me, because no matter what they say, I know they're going to die someday. I know that I'm the lady with the super-long life, who is ultimately going to outlive the rest and watch everyone die. It's just something I know, like knowledge I was born with. I guess I'm pretty much like Mrs. Weasley in this respect, my experience would be no different from hers if I ever encountered a Boggart in a shelf. 

But say, I were to die first. Say, I were to be inflicted with this horrible disease that would take me down slowly, one day at at time. Say, I knew I was going to die, at least a month in advance. I think about that sometimes. Oh yeah, that's kind of scary too. But I have a plan. Thankfully, I have a plan. I thought it out, and I wrote it down a long time ago. I'll share it with you today.

When the end comes, the right way to leave the body is in total awareness. This is what my Guru says. However, if I were dying now, I would be frightened of the unknown. Of leaving familiar surroundings and people and moving to an unknown place, all alone, all by myself. I fear the unknown, I fear facing it alone.

If I were to die now, I highly doubt that I would go gracefully. I would most certainly go in fear. This cannot be a good way to die.

To be able to die in awareness, I must be alone, no attachments clinging to me, nothing holding me back. I must make this clear to myself.

So what would I do, if I were told that this is the last day of my life, and by tonight, i would be gone?

Well, for starters...

No drama.

No telling anybody about it. Nothing special. No attempt for closure. No messing with the worldly possessions. No writing letters or talking to people. Most certainly, no Facebook updates.

What I would want to do instead, is to go about my day normally, performing my daily tasks and responsibilities in silence. Not with a sense of attachment, but only with a sense of love and compassion. I would try to remain aware of my every thought and action, while maintaining a distance from them. 

I would try to live my last day with a sense of devotion towards the Lord Divine, whose unknown territory I would be stepping into. Perhaps, with some reverence towards the owner of my life who would soon be coming to reclaim it from me. I would pray to the Divine, to help me make my exit in awareness. I would pray that when the final moment comes, I would not struggle to leave the body, I would not want to hold on or stay back, and that I would be able to go, happy and smiling, ready and excited for the adventure ahead. I would pray not to cry for my mother or father or M to be with me, holding my hand like they did on my first day of school, or on the day of my wedding. I would like to be brave enough to make the journey alone, for that is how we come, and that is how, we must all go.

This is the manner in which I would like to conduct my death. 

The tricky thing about this is that in all probability, I will not be given a day's notice, heck, not even a moment's notice before being frisked away. How in the world am I supposed to prepare myself then? 

The answer, my dear, is simple. This is the manner, in which you must conduct your life.

***

40 comments:

  1. The last line nailed it. This was dark, but by no means depressing. :)

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  2. Oh man. this is not hormones, Sumitra! This is 'horrifying effects of finiteness'. Very very very very thought provoking and heart wrenching post.

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    1. Sumitra - I am still hallucinated and haunted by this post. Its one of the most enigmatic I have read - actually, not read, but it just put all my thoughts out in the open. Well! your last line change the death to life, but other than that the rest of the post is so unnerving. Life just seems so suffocating when the thought of death sets in..

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    2. Hi Vikas, I'm not sure if I should say I'm glad that you found this post enigmatic, or that I'm sorry it haunted you. Guess I'm not sure of the appropriate response here, but I certainly like the fact that you get what I'm trying to convey. Yes, when the thought of death sets in at first, life can seem suffocating. But the idea towards the end of the post is that death can also be liberating, showing us the path of how to live our lives best. Of course, it's different for each individual. I really do appreciate the time you've taken out to connect with this post. Thank You! :)

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  3. If we start thinking about death, wouldn't we miss out from living in the moment by being in the perpetual fear of the future(death)? Ok, strike that out, too much philosophy :P.

    The last line absolutely clinched it.

    PS: This didn't seem dark from any angle.

    Cheers :)

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    1. On the contrary, AS, I feel that it's because we do not think about death that we live with an arrogance as though we are going to live on forever and do not live in the moment. I guess it's only when the reality of death sinks in, the reality that we are on earth only for a limited period of time, will we be able to let go of petty stuff and look at the bigger picture. :)

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  4. Death is the only reality of Life! Having lost a loving brother-in-law, a close cousin and a young nephew brimming with life, suddenly in the past couple of years, I know that for sure... My life was turned upside down and something died in me too!!! Death was something that happened in the lives of others till then...

    For quite a few months, I didn't know how to handle it! Mourn my losses or be thankful for what is left!!!

    One day I realized: There is no point in fearing the death, which is certain. Instead, live the life in such a manner that in the quest for big things, I dont miss out on the small, but important things!

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    1. Nisha, I'm so sorry for your loss. It does sound like the past two years have been tough for you. I can totally understand not knowing how to even handle things.

      It's so true what you said, death is the only reality and certainty of life. It's the only safe bet we have, if you think of it. I'm glad you reached a point of understanding not to fear it anymore. :)

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  5. OMG. I lost my grandpa when I was 13 but I couldn't see him/ attend his funeral because he was in India.

    Love the battlefield of Life. Because there's joy in your defeat and joy in your victory :)

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    1. So true, Zeebs. And looks like we have had similar experiences there.

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  6. This is my first on your blog... the connect is instant because this thought has haunted me since I was 12 or 13...My best friend's dad had passed away, and I had just visited her house to play. Her uncle asked me to inform my dad about the news. But I never did. I was so scared that something will happen to my dad if he goes there, that I just sat on his lap and clung to him. From that day I have this fear of losing a loved one...I might just border on the paranoid..

    I liked your post because it was like a catharsis of my own emotions...following you!

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    1. Hi Little Princes, welcome here! Sorry that my first post you read had to be such a morose one :)

      I can so picture you as the little girl who wouldn't tell her dad about the death. I would probably have done the same too.

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  7. Aww....you are sad and what do I do to cheer you up! The thought of your close ones dying is definitely scary and if I found I was gonna die first, I would stop worrying about my increasing weight and gorge on all the awesome food in the world :D Err....jokes apart, it is not a dark post. We all have such thoughts somewhere in our mind but we realize it a bit late!
    Now cheer up! No one's leaving you and neither you are!
    Are you smiling????

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    1. CD, you really are the sweetest! Thanks for trying to cheer me up. Your last line certainly did make me smile. Thankfully, the dark cloud has lifted and I'm sort of back to my spirits now. :)

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  8. I'm not sure if trying to get rid of attachments is a good thing to do. Osho would say "You cannot drive out the darkness by disliking it. You drive out the darkness by bringing in light." You don't say "I don't want X", but say "I want Y instead".

    Besides, don't just accept that attachments are bad just because others say so. It's like a kid giving its toy to another kid because the kid's mom said the toy was "bad". No, it won't make the kid happy. On the other hand, when the kid sees for itself that the toy is broken... or that toys are just toys and life has better things to offer, then the toy isn't wanted any more. From the little I understand, Jaggi Vasudev asks us to accept everything, and have a desire for everything. Being attached is just fine.

    PS: Sorry if I sound too preachy.

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    1. Kannan, I don't find this preachy at all. Debating over such matters is something I believe people do not do enough.

      From my contemplation and readings, I've come to understand that attachment is not necessarily 'good' or 'bad'. It is more of a hindrance, if you want to get to a certain state of being. Everything has a consequence, and attachment has its own.

      Of course, I agree with you that letting go must come naturally, and it cannot be forced. Attachment cannot be wrenched away from a closed fist, the fingers must open of their own accord. A fruit will fall only when it has ripened. Absolutely agree with you on that.

      The thing here is that, I've understood that if you look at love/compassion vs. attachment, love stands more prominent. Doing things for/taking care of people/family out of love, rather than out of attachment is a more evolved way of being. Because with love, you just do it out of love, but with attachment, you have a secret expectation for reciprocation. So attachment isn't bad, but it isn't as great as real love. Being attached is certainly fine, but not as fine as being in love, being in true compassion. Today I do expect things in return, but that's not the way I want to go.

      The problem with me is that I've grasped this concept through understanding, but not out of action. I'm yet to get there. But I want to get there, before I die at least. See, what I mean? In order to do that, I need to practice awareness. Of course, it isn't remotely easy. It's almost impossible, I fail miserably. So that's what I mean, when I say that's how I need to conduct my life. As in, keep trying.

      With regards to Jaggi Vasudev, I suppose you're going by the TV program he did, 'Atthanaikkum Asai Padu'. Translated, it does mean 'desire for everything' but I don't believe that to really be the crux of his teaching. He certainly does not ask us to control our desires, but he does teach us to be aware of them. He asks us to be aware of the entanglements we get into, rather than get entangled further. With the practice of awareness, the natural letting go that you are talking about will happen eventually.

      So yes, what I've written about is how I would 'want' to die, another desire. And the way to get there is by trying to live life in my head, in a certain way. This is what I've figured out so far, at least.

      Hope this makes sense, hope I didn't sound too preachy :)

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    2. It sure does make sense, and no, it isn't preachy at all :)

      I believe that once you go beyond a certain state, general rules and definitions don't exist. Everyone defines the ideas they want defined and move on. Thus we may be calling two different things with the same name causing confusion. I'll just tell you how I see things; by no means I am saying your views are "wrong" :)

      In an indirect way, expecting something in return can be explained as being attached; but I'd use the phrase "getting used to" or "getting complacent with" to describe attachment. We define our lives with what surrounds us: we are attached to the people around us, to our jobs, to our place, etc. And we freak out when we imagine losing a part of it.
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      If we followed the logic chain, I guess most teachers' ultimate advice would be awareness. "Desire everything", I think, is a technique Jaggi recommends. For one, it'd remove some negativity from our minds, which I think is a real hindrance in the early days.

      Best of luck on your experiments, and hopefully you'll realise the Truth some day!

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  9. I loved the complete read right from the start to the very end!

    And yes ,It used to hit me hard as a child to be losing a loved one coz I saw my own father sink in the agony of his father's death! My dad felt like he lost the "pillar of his life" and it is so true to this day. I know how different things could've been had my granddad been alive.Infact as a child I used to pray around million times the return of my parents every time they went out coz there was always this miserable fear..and I'd start crying for no reason. But you wouldn't believe it.. A guy who predicts and does not even call himself an "astrologer" said my parents wouldn't be alive today had the prayers engulfing them not been strong enough! When mom said that..I didn't react much but to this day.. there is a small fear but I pray for them a lot.. you know A LOT! Losing a loved one for me is like crawling to madness! almost the end of the world but I am resilient.Just telling.I am like DAD..I'd be broke!

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    1. Hi Jen, thank you I'm glad you liked the post. It is really amazing to hear that your prayers were instrumental in keeping your parents safe. Such miracles do happen, even if not often, and yours is a shining example of that.

      The thought of losing a parent is an extremely difficult reality to deal with. It's like your shelter, your protector, the person who fixed all your problems as a kid is gone. The reality hits that you're not a kid anymore, this is it, you're grown up for real now, alone to face the world. It can be a devastating thought, requires a lot of courage to face.

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  10. Well thats why they say Khudi ko kar buland itna , ki khuda bhi tujhse pooche .. Ey bande teri raza kya ...

    The last line says it all, thats how we should live our each day , who has seen tomorrow .. and when it comes we will not even know .. although as you i do pray to the almighty god that when my time comes I hope its quick and I die with a smile ..

    Over the few recent years I have had so many shocks a lot of loved ones have passed away , it has given me fear too but then it has brought some kind of sense too that why am i running or doing so much and getting all charged up at stupid things they dont mean anything .. end of the day nothing will i be able ot take with me .. if man could then Sikander would have taken everything with him .. even he went in nothing but the Kafan he had on ..

    so now i try to od what i want to do when i want to do dont want to feel remorse when the end comes , wish i had done this or that ..

    The only thing I do wish always is that when i die i want my ashes to be brought to my home back in india.. Not that much to ask for i guess :)

    Bikram's

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    1. Those are some lovely lines, Bikram. I'll give them more thought.

      Absolutely, when we die we go with nothing. The thought of death makes us realize this and then the rat race doesn't make much sense anymore. Yes, when the end comes, remorse is the last thing that we would be wanting to feel. I'm sorry for your loss of loved ones in the past few years.

      I hope you don't mind me asking, just curious as to why you would want your ashes to be brought back to India?

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  11. Sumitra - Even I do sometimes or maybe a little more than sometimes think about losing near and dear ones.

    I have lost someone really close and no one can fill that void but what I have realised is for her happiness I must do all those things she enjoyed doing.. I celebrate life for her till just as she did when she was with us .. And she the reason I look forward to getting up every single morning.

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    1. Hi Sangeeta, thanks for taking the time out to read :)

      It's a wonderful way to deal with the loss, celebrating life in the way that she would have. What a great way to remember her, rather than mourn for her. Inspiring!

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  12. @Everyone: I've got to thank you all for the thoughtful/thought-provoking comments you've put in. Each one is deep and meaningful in its own way, and I'd like to take my time replying to each. In the mean time, I want to tell you how much I appreciate the time you all took to read and comment. Thank You.

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  13. Lovely post.. no matter how dark it is... I have seen people very very close to me leaving just like that... death is one reason... but then you learn to deal with it or you have to...

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    1. Thanks, goingbeyondthepages. Glad you stopped by and read this. Yes, death is something everyone needs to learn to deal with.

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  14. Sumi, before I even reply - have you done bhava spandana? Please let me know.

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    1. Ya Arch, I've done up to Samyama. :)

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    2. Oh, thought you might like to read these:

      Here's a post I wrote after getting back from Bhava Spandana: http://www.thedailymoo.com/2009/05/what-can-i-say.html

      And here's two I wrote after Samyama:
      http://www.thedailymoo.com/2011/02/new-beginning-new-life.html
      http://www.thedailymoo.com/2011/03/mind-and-its-tribulations.html

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    4. I wrote on a very similar note in my dairy after Bhava spandana. Your post made me revisit that page. Can't thank ou enough! Will read your posts soon. Samyama and kailash Yatra are my modest dreams within the next two years. Divine willing, should happen.

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    5. I sure hope you get to go to both the programs, Archana. They are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Life changing. Now that Samyama is held in the Aadi Yogi Aalayam, it should be even better than before. Oh, your comment came up twice so just deleted the other one.

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  15. Very well written. I love the way you concluded .. Even my worst fear is losing my parents.. I cry even when the thought strikes me. And I pray God that I never get to see that day... I never feared about my death... Neither the thought struck me ever.. But recently when I was undergoing routine checkup and when doctor doubted some serious illness I was scared . I cried like 2 hours because there are so many things I want to see . Like my sister's settled with kids my brother making it big... And my parents satisfied and happy faces. I don't know how and when I die.. But when ever I die I want to conduct myself like way you said . :D

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    1. Thank you, Single Girl! Glad you liked the conclusion. The thought of losing parents is certainly a difficult one, I think more so when you are younger.

      I hope that the doctors doubts were baseless and that you are fine. Try to make the most of the time you have today. Never know when the end will come and we'll have to say goodbye :)

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  16. And now, you've got me thinking. So much!

    This was some intense stuff, lady. Some real intense stuff.
    -Nil.
    www.meetnil.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Nil, welcome here. Glad to know you've read this post :)

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  17. Ditto! I can relate to this...Now that I have accepted that death is the ultimate event of our lives..I don't fear death..But I fear dying...The pain...I want to die a painless death...Sometimes I wonder how it would be like being shot...Sleeping pills would be better then...no?? Dark post...but that's how the reality is... :)

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