Remember Death – An Important Aspect of Sadhana

Day-18 LTP Challenge: If tomorrow was your last day on Earth, what would you do?  Would your focus be spiritual or material?
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Date: 18th May 2021

Earlier, we discussed the importance of striving with great energy to accomplish the goal of life transformation.  Though we have the best of intentions and move forward with enthusiasm, we often find our inspiration and efforts waning with time.  But we can rejuvenate our commitment to the goal by illuminating our intellect with the wisdom of the noble sages and our holy scriptures.  One of the important aspects of sadhana (spiritual practice) prescribed in the Vedic philosophy is—to always remember our death!  You may wonder how does this help us on our journey?

Let us learn from a wonderful story of the man who approached Saint Eknath.  He asked the age, “Maharaj, I try hard to take my mind to God, but it does not remain there.  Do you have any ‘upay’ (means) by which I can succeed?”  Saint Eknath looked at the man from head to foot and said, “You are talking about keeping your mind in God, but what I see is that you have only seven days of life left.”  Upon hearing this, that man broke down and fell at the sage’s feet.  He thought, “This Saint is telling me that I am going to die in seven days; maybe he is ‘trikaldarshi’ and has seen my future.”

So, he begged, “Maharaj, please tell me what I can do?”  Sant Eknath said, “Nothing much can be done.  Nevertheless, free yourself from encumbrances and return to me on the seventh day, and we will see then.”  Upon the saint’s advice, he went back home.  Now, when he had this knowledge in his head that he has only seven days to live, his perspective to the world changed.  For instance, it was no longer important for him whether his neighbor had a bigger garden or not.  Also, whether his relatives were behaving well with him or not, because, in seven days he would no longer be alive.

So, he resolved his problems over the next few days and returned to Sant Eknath after a week, “Maharaj, today is my last day, please tell me what I should do?”  Sant Eknath asked, “Are you able to remember God today?”  He said, “Maharaj, today I find that I am holding my mind steady, it is unwavering.”  The sage smiled and asked, “Do you know why that is so?”  Because, your intellect has this knowledge that today could be my last day.”  The saint said, “Every day when I wake up, I think, ‘If today were my last day what would I do?’  I lead my life in this awareness and that is why I am able to keep my mind in God every day.”

Similarly, the poet-saint, Narayan, said:

दो बातन को भूल मत जो चाहत कल्याण,
नारायण एक मौत को, दूजो श्री भगवान् ||

do bātan ko bhūl mat, jo chāhat kalyāṇ
nārāyaṇ ika maut ko, dūjo śhrī bhagavān

The verse implies that if you wish to make your life a success, then do not forget two things.  What should we not forget, God?  No, first of all, do not forget your death.  And next, remember God.  When we do so, we will not delay that sense of urgency and will develop the habit of not wasting our time in trivia.

Watch this interesting video by Swami Mukundananda –

Another example of King Dashrath is very inspiring.  He was combing his hair and found that the hair close to his ears had turned white.  He thought, “Oh my body is made of mud and the mud has started deteriorating.  I must now detach myself and pay attention to the work of sadhana (spiritual practice).  Let me hand over the kingdom to run and go into the forest.”  Thus, a few white hairs got him detached from worldly matters.  But in our case, the whole head turns white and yet we remain entangled in worldly desires.  God has made old age as a warning—watch out, the end is close!

In classical Indian music performances, a very sweet “raag”—Raag Bhairavi is kept for the end of the concert.  When that begins, the audience understands that—it is the last raag for the night and that the singers will get up and leave after it is over.   It is a ‘nivritti ka prateek’—a sign that the end is close.

Similarly, God gives us so many signs—the energy in the eye reduces, hearing is compromised, and health deteriorates.  Now, let us heed these warnings and move away from wasteful works to divert our attention to activities that are eternally beneficial.

Hence, the message on 18th day of Life Transformation Challenge is— to remember our death which is an important aspect of sadhana.  For then, we will not be wasteful of our time, will be filled with the sense of energy, and will strive enthusiastically forward.  We will move ahead from here with another gem of wisdom as we progress along.

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14/11/2021 10:38 pm

Only great leaders can understand other great leaders

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