During primary school, my mornings were spent crying and feeling abandoned when my mother would leave for work, entrusting me to the care of a nanny. I used to wave her goodbye through the window and come crashing on the bed crying my heart out for the next two hours. Tugging her saree to my chest, I would cry till it was time to get ready for school at 1 pm. This was my daily routine for four years.
In 2012, when I was on my European Yoga Tour, I received a call from my sister informing me that our mom had slipped into a coma and her future was uncertain. I flew back to India immediately, and headed straight to the critical care unit of the hospital to be by my mother’s side. The beeping of machines around her motionless body took my mind back to those years when I used to cry when she left for work. And there I was now, facing my biggest challenge. The person whom I had loved the most, with whom I had my strongest emotional bond, was going to leave me…
After a couple of days, my mom passed away—the eventual had happened. In fact, she left her body the morning when I was by her side. I rushed out of the hospital room and cried for two hours in the arms of my sisters, just the way I used to when I was in school. The only difference was that whereas then I used to cry out of abandonment, now I cried out of acceptance. In the past I used to cry feeling my mom had left me, this time I cried tears of gratitude in the knowledge that she had finished her work here.
We all have abandoned
I could say I was born with a feeling of abandonment, because as far back as I remember I was afraid of my mother leaving me. That fear of abandonment has nothing to do with my mother—it has been my issue since the time I knew I existed, so I was the one who had to resolve it. Around 12 years ago, in one of my silence periods during yoga, it dawned upon me how important it was to get rid of this dark cloud once and for all.
The search began with a question: why is it that we fear our loved ones leaving us, why is it that we look at it as abandonment? Over the years the answer was revealed. We all fear abandonment because we all have abandoned. We all have abandoned the very immortal love that we ARE and this is why we are afraid of losing the love that we HAVE. Losing someone dear to us reminds us of that abandonment—our abandonment of our Self. The fear of losing someone always lurks in the back of our mind. Every other source of love other than the Self becomes an obsession. When that source is attained, we feel accepted. When that source is taken away, we feel abandoned. The time in between these two experiences is spent fearing and worrying about the obvious. Death is the most certain, yet it is also the most unaccepted aspect of our lives.
Over our lifetime, we have managed to blindfold ourselves and are now complaining of darkness. Somewhere we all are playing hide and seek with our deathless essence. Somewhere we are all busy entertaining guests of the finite while our infinite mother awaits our arrival. Once in a while, we experience a glimpse of immortality and infinity but immediately the voices of the mind ground us in flesh. The feeling dies before it blooms into an experience. We have forgotten that the experience of our infinity cannot come through pursuing the finite. We keep forgetting that the acceptance of our immortality cannot come through fearing
Many of us have lost our loved ones. Others will have to face this eventuality someday. It is hard, very hard, to lose someone you love. It is disastrous to feel the separation. But I feel this is a lesson, albeit the toughest one. All other spiritual lessons are based in this lesson, the lesson of abandonment, the lesson of separation. And just like any other spiritual practice the acceptance of death, the passing of a parent and facing the eventual separation also needs to be worked upon.
Preparing for the eventuality
Over 12 years I prepared myself just to accept the fact that one day my parents [especially my mom] will not be with me. It is something that you don’t want to happen but know it will. It is one of the trickiest and most ruthless of truths one has to accept. I am not claiming that my mother’s passing did not affect me, in fact it was not at all an easy journey for me afterwards. But I just want to share a few things here that did reduce the blow of this incident on my life.
What helped me most was to recognise that my mom was an independent Being even before she was my mom. Endless hours spent looking at her comatose body made me realise that even though this Being was in a relationship with me as a mother in this life, it had its own flowering to pursue. That Being was now ready to go on its next adventure and I had to let it go. Her death would be an end of ‘my’, relationship with ‘my’ mother but beyond the ‘my’ that Being had to move towards a new journey to realise itself through newer forms and relationships. This is where we need to realise death not as a full stop or a period but as a comma, not as an end but as a pregnant pause.
When one accepts the eventual passing of a loved one as a Being and not as a relation, it becomes much easier to generate compassion. Our conflict with, and resentment of, others are only in context of relationship. From the context of Being, there are no conflicts, there is only compassion. Only in the pond of compassion can the lotus of forgiveness bloom. And in the blossom of this lotus, lies the peace of the past. When the past is made peace with, there is no regret, guilt and resentment. When the past is wiped clean, the mind does not move into the future to compensate. When memories of past are let go, the desires of the future too are tamed. In other words, the pendulum of the mind doesn’t oscillate between resentment of the past and desires of the future anymore. Gradually, in the context of that relationship, one begins living, staying in the present and in this present exists just one thing—love. Relationships end, love remains and love is the common denominator of all that is.
If you have aged parents, perhaps it’s time to prepare yourself. Gather all the courage that you have and work towards resolving any conflict that you may have had with them. Work with compassion, look at them more and more as Beings in the form of your parents and not just as ‘your’ parents. Allow genuine forgiveness to arise in the heart, seek forgiveness and keep forgiving. It takes time, patience and sheer determination to hold your ground when it comes to forgiveness. Enjoy every bit of the opportunity that you get to express your love. Bit by bit, close the chapters of regrets and resentments till the book of that relationship becomes a book of love. This is the time to count your blessings, this is the time to cherish the love, this is the time to feel thankful and appreciate the joy of small things. From the context of Love, we are never really separate, from the context of consciousness we are never really abandoned, from the context of Being we never really die. As bodies we die, as Beings we are immortal. With this fact in mind, when the time comes, allow your loved ones to pass on, allow them to move on to the next stage of their journey as spiritual Beings. Let the abandonment turn into acceptance, let the aloneness transform into all-one-ness. Just like you, they too are evolving, just like you they too will flower.
This was first published in the February 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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