Saidas M. Ranade
August 18, 2013
“Does a leaf, when it falls from the tree in winter, feel defeated by the cold?” – Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho.
Over a month and half ago I became very sick. A throat infection affected my thyroid causing Thyroiditis. I lost 15 lbs. in one month. My heart rate went up and I had fever. I was totally exhausted and had to rest most of the day for many days.
During those periods of physical rest, my mind was still racing. The thoughts of death and dying surfaced many times. One challenge was my own mental model of what I think would be a COMPLETED life for me. The other difficulty was fighting my own conditioning of how I was supposed to feel at the time of dying.
The idea of what makes one’s life complete is interesting. We dream and we plan. Death interrupts those plans. Or does it? Over the past many years I have lived a life of obsession. I wanted to make a positive impact on this world. Some would call it a character disorder. Well may be it is. This obsession forced me to be single-minded and focused. However in doing that at times I lost track of the big picture and important connections. Many American-Indian tribes have recommended that we live a life always keeping in mind the impact of our actions on the seventh generation. I realized that what matters most is not that I complete something but I take a step in the right direction and do the right thing each moment. There is no completion. It is simply a continuing journey. This notion of the seventh generation does not depend on my reincarnation or my reaping the benefits of what I sow. The model is about me being true to myself and making my small contribution in my own way to the universe as it continues to evolve. Since everything is connected who reaps the rewards is not as important as doing the right things now.
I have seen scenes of death in many movies, read books about dying and heard stories of how people died. Judeo-Christian religions speak about forgiving everyone and surrendering to God. Hinduism talks about not having any attachment. Buddhism has a whole book on dying. The Buddhist believe that the predilections of the soul which are formed as a result of habits stay with the soul and drive the process of the next birth. Since no one knows when the end will come, the Buddhist suggest keeping the soul free every moment.
The conflict between how I was feeling and how I was supposed to feel was interesting. My conditioning was suggesting I feel a certain way. I felt odd if my feelings did not match what was expected. I believe that this conflict or for that matter any mental conflict has adverse impact on healing our body. Our spiritual energy needed for healing leaks to close that perceived gap. Each one of us grows up under different conditions and contexts. Having experienced the conflict now I believe that it is important to be true to oneself and at the time of death simply feel and be. There is no right or wrong way to feel or be. For me images of a certain journey I had taken with my parents when I was young resurfaced and gave me contentment.
I also realized that over the past few years I had lost track of my core purpose. Having a sense of purpose is a catalyst to healing. The details of the future did not matter but knowing that I have unique gifts and a unique purpose, what mattered was that I was true to those gifts and true to my calling.