Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine Prayer

"For the living, death is certain; for the dead, birth is certain." - Bhagavad Gita

Radhanath Swami wants his students to learn how to serve someone who is dying. So he asked Barbara Slaine and Henry Weiss to please allow those who serve at The Bhakti Center to participate in their "death doula" training program. Ghanashyam signed up.

For the past three days, Ghanashyam has shared with me stories and points of the training that have brought me to tears, all showing the power and beauty of death.

Today, Ghanashyam called me. "Bhakti," he said, "Today we were given an assignment,"

"Oh really?"

"Yes, we were put into groups and were given the assignment to choose someone in our lives whom we love and to design a way to facilitate their passing from this world. It's called an 'advance directive.' So... I chose you,"

"Really? How so?"

"Well, how we're planning our wedding, I'm discovering so much of what you love. So I said that I would put lots of beautiful draping cloth from the ceiling in warm colors. The bedspread would be in that Jaipur block print that you love.

"Then, when people enter the room they would all be required to approach deities of Radha and Krishna and to bow down and offer respects, no matter who they were. We've been told that when people know that when something pleases the person who is dying, everyone is happy to do what he or she wants. So religion doesn't matter. I was thinking how you love deities and would want everyone to offer their respects as the first thing that they do when they come into the room,"

Tears filled my eyes. I pictured Ragunath's deities, Radha Madan Mohan, in that room.

"Then I was thinking how you love to write, this is a part of your legacy. Maybe some of your writings of your choosing from your blog could be compiled and given to guests, and maybe on beautiful stationery,"

Tears flowed.

"Then I was thinking how when everyone comes out of the room they would all take prasad, and what's more they would serve each other. You love to take prasad and for everyone to serve each other. You would want that.

"And then in the room, there could be a point where we all surround you on the bed and share some words of appreciation, or a special story in honor of you. That's your style - you love these community type of events where everyone must do something, there's no slipping away, for everyone to bond.

"It was beautiful, because when I shared all of these ideas with the whole group, everyone was fascinated. People kept exclaiming how beautiful this all seemed, how special I must be, and 'wow, you really love your fiancee. I feel like I know her so well, I wish I could be there!'"

"Well, hopefully not yet," and we both laughed.

"The people in my group were fascinated by how you love saris," Ghanashyam continued, "and then one of them even suggested that maybe you wear your favorite sari,"

Immediately I thought of my initiation sari - the ivory one with the gold border.

"And there could be a corner where kirtan and bhajans are going on, so that people could go and sing the holy name,"

Tears flowed down my face and I had the most curious experience of being so deeply loved. Ghanashyam knows me on the soul level. He loves me on the soul level.

"Ghanashyam," I said, "This is the most beautiful Valentine's Day gift I could have ever received. Everything you said... this is exactly how I would want to leave this world. With your words and description, I feel unafraid of death, that I will be surrounded by love and my next destination is auspicious.

"Ghanashyam, I want to also meditate on how to facilitate your leaving this world,"

"Yes, it is a beautiful meditation," he said.

Several hours have passed and I realize that if I was to leave the world in such a loving way, the fear of being a nobody has faded away. The burning desire to be world famous or rich or accomplished has vanished. I don't need to be remembered for eons and put down in the annals of history.

All I want is to be surrounded by loved ones and the holy name, to leave a legacy of love. And soon those people who remembered me will pass from this world and no one will actually remember me or mark my space in history.

And that is okay.

Because my soul has moved onward in the journey of love. That is all that matters.

Whichever one of us leaves first, I only hope that I may journey with Ghanashyam towards Krishna even beyond this lifetime. That is my Valentine prayer.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.