Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi
  AHYMSIN NEWSLETTER, ISSUE - July 2017 
 
   
 
   

On Leaving the Body

by Swami Veda Bharati

[This passage has been taken from the book Death, Your Servant: Mahabharata´s Bhishma, Examples from a World Classic by Swami Veda Bharati].

Inspired by Bhishma, a practising yogi can come to terms with the mystery of death with a peaceful mind. We may also receive inspiration from other great ones, well known or less known, the manner of whose death can guide us.

What we say about yogis is true of any one to whom philosophy and spiritual aspiration are a true reality. Such beings consider death not to be relevant to their processes of thought and emotions. They are neutral to it or create a mind-set whereby they welcome a spiritual dying to all worldly attractions.

The example of Socrates is well known and can be read in the Greek classics. Then there is the story of the Roman philosopher Seneca. He had been a tutor and mentor to a number of emperors in succession, and finally to the notorious Nero. Nero could not tolerate the good philosopher’s advice for long. Nero did not want to kill Seneca outright so he ordered him to go and commit suicide. Death meant nothing to Seneca. He chose a certain day to die. All his main disciples gathered around him. He opened a vein in his leg and continued giving his final discourse on philosophy. The blood was not flowing freely; so he ordered a vessel of hot water in which he soaked his bleeding leg and continued teaching. The disciples came closer and closer leaning over him as his voice began to go feeble and they tried to catch the last of his words. Finally he fell silent and was gone – calm as ever.

Such accomplishment is not possible unless one has first learnt to die to one’s false ego, to the identifications we have erroneously established with physical entities. When the monks of the Swami Orders take their vows, they perform unto themselves the ceremonies that are commonly performed in India after someone’s death. They burn all their identifications into a sacred fire by way of recitations and herbal-incense offerings, with verses like the ones below:

OM;

May my prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana be purified.

May I become a being of light, stainless (viraja) and sinless.

OM; Svaha

I offer my prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana.

They are no more mine

OM;

May my speech, mind, eyes, ears, tongue, nostrils, sexual essence, intelligence, wishes and resolves be purified.

May I become a being of light, stainless and sinless.

OM; Svaha

I offer my speech, mind, eyes, ears, tongue, nostrils, sexual essence, intelligence, wishes and resolves. They are no more mine.

OM;

May my epidermis, skin, flesh, blood, fat, marrow, muscles, and bones be purified.

May I become a being of light, stainless and sinless.

OM; Svaha

I offer my epidermis, skin, flesh, blood, fat, marrow, muscles, and bones. They are no more mine.

OM;

May my head, hands, feet, sides, back, stomach, thighs, and organs of elimination and generation be purified.

May I become a being of light, stainless and sinless

OM; Svaha

I offer my head, hands, feet, sides, back, stomach, thighs, and organs of elimination and generation. They are no more mine.

These are just a few of the offering verses recited. Having thus died, having symbolically cremated all his fleshly parts, the novitiate now becomes a new born swami with a new name granted by his spiritual guide.

This concept of dying to one’s old worldly fleshly self is well known in the Christian tradition. Christ taught his disciples to die to their old selves if they seek immortality in the kingdom of heaven. So, Saul who died to his old self on the road to Damishq (Damascus) and became St. Paul later challenged: O Death, where is thy sting?

So, among others, we read the inspiring story of Sister Clara, sister in God to St. Francis of Assisi. One night she chooses to abandon the worldly life. In those days the houses in the town of Assisi used to have two doors, the regular front door and a small back door only for taking out the dead. It was never opened except at the time of a funeral. On the night of her renunciation, she chose to clear up the clutter that was blocking the back door, normally reserved for the dead bodies, and stepped out of the house through that door.

 

   
       

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