This week I have heard about the sudden death of a person in our village and the slightly less sudden but equally devastating death of someone who had been to my yoga classes a few years ago. The former was in her seventies, the latter in her late twenties. Turn on the radio, TV or look at social media and the top story is Corona virus and how many people are dying as a result.
All reminders that we are mortals.
So how does our understanding of our mortality impact us? Well it certainly can provoke FEAR, fear of the unknown and what is beyond this life. It can provoke a determination to keep ourselves as fit and healthy as possible in order to prolong life. It can provoke a desire to make the most of every single day that we are alive.
Keeping ourselves as fit and healthy as possible is a very logical response and enables us to live responsibly, to live useful lives. However, we should be aware that in spite of our best efforts and determination we are not totally bullet proof, accidents happen, and no matter how robust our immune systems are, diseases and infections may still attack.
This all sounds unusually pessimistic coming from me, a lifelong optimist! So why am I blogging about it? Surely my blogs should be uplifting and inspirational?
Well here we go….
There is a favourite story of mine about a king in ancient times with four wives who was approaching the end of his life. Like most humans he was feeling fearful of his passing so he spoke to his fourth wife, he had showered her with precious jewellery and expensive clothes, and he said to her, “I am dying, will you die with me and accompany me into the afterlife?” She was very fond of him but told him, “I am unable to do that,” and off she went.
So he summoned his third wife who he was really proud of, so proud that he loved to display her to other kings. He made his request, “I am dying, will you die with me and accompany me into the afterlife?” She had been a devoted and loyal wife but she also told him, “I am unable to do that” and off she went.
His second wife had always been there for him when he needed help and support and so he was sure that she would accompany him into the afterlife, so he was really surprised when she told him that much as she had always offered him support in the past what he was asking was impossible!
Now his first wife had been with him for years and years but he hadn’t paid her much attention, having been more occupied by his other wives, so he was very surprised when she came to him without being summoned and told him that she would accompany him into the afterlife. He was amazed and apologised to her saying, “I’m so sorry that I have neglected you, almost forgotten about you, but I do thank you for being here for me”.
What does this teach us?... Have you worked it all out?
The fourth wife represents our BODY, which we wear in our lifetime, but we can’t take it with us.
The third wife represents our POSSESSIONS which are important in our lives but which cannot accompany us into the afterlife.
The second wife represents FAMILY AND FRIENDS who are very dear to us in our lives but we have to leave them behind.
The first wife represents our SOUL, which we often forget about, neglect or occasionally remember. The SOUL is who we are and death has no power over the soul, it lives on….
Therefore, as mortals, we definitely need to look after and nurture our bodies, being careful about our diet, our exercise regimes, seeking help if things go wrong and so on.
We can enjoy our possessions which enable us to lead healthy lives and we absolutely need to develop and uphold great relationships with family and friends. And most important of all... let us all really get to know our souls, our Selves, spending time each day connecting to that most beautiful part of us.
There are many ways we can do this, meditation being the obvious tool, but let us not forget that we can connect to that inner beauty in many ways… observing a beautiful sunset, gazing into the eyes of a baby, a dog, a robin… hearing the sounds of birdsong, running water, music… hugging a dear one, feeling a gentle breeze on our face, the warmth of the sun... the list is endless. We simply need to cultivate an awareness of these moments and acknowledge the deeper beauty and love which we are connecting with.
As we become more and more aware of these moments, of our inner beauty, our souls, we begin to realise that actually we are IMMORTAL! The end of fear and anxiety, the end of limiting beliefs, simply a beautiful gift. I AM.
(If you feel drawn to explore this further please contact me or find a good teacher of yoga and meditation. Yoga is essentially the quest for Unity of our Selves to the Divine, of self-realisation.)