Articles by Sri Rajen Vakil

The Art of Dying

Article 41 - The Art of Dying

 

We had mentioned previously that death could be through any of the three nadis - the vajra nadi, the sushumna and the chitrini. We also saw that for most of us, the vajra nadi controls everything and it is only in very rare cases that a person is able to die through the sushumna or the chitrini. Such a death would be of a very different kind. Let us look at an example of each.

When we die, the vajra nadi is pulled like the string of a bow and death is immediate. Once this happens, there is no coming back.

It is said that Gautama Buddha died through the sushumna.  He told his disciples that he was going and then slept on the right side and slowly started leaving the physical realm. His chief disciple and cousin Ananda started giving a running commentary on how Buddha was passing through different states - from the physical and more gross to the subtle. The story goes that a man came running and said that his whole life he had wanted to ask Buddha a question but had never found the time. Ananda told him that it was too late as Buddha had gone to a place from which he could not return. But Buddha heard him and he came back. He sat upright, answered the person’s question and again slept on the right and entered death. Whether the story is true or not, it does tell us of the quality of Buddha’s death.

There is only one recorded case which we can say is death through the chitrini. It is said that Kabir was lying in a hut in the final moments of his life while his disciples were fighting outside as to whether they should cremate the body or bury it. Kabir activated the very mysterious nadi called chitrini, created a very high-pitched sound of ‘OM’ called para nada and reduced his body to ashes. When the disciples entered his room, they found two piles of flowers (ashes). Each of the two sets of disciples took a pile and they became two sects - the Kabir panthi and Kabir margi.

These stories teach us that with proper practice and guidance, and when our time comes, we can enter into a death of a very high quality.

Anatomy of Death

Article - Anatomy of Death


Our physical body features an anatomy of bones, blood vessels and nerves. Yoga talks of a subtle anatomy of nadis, which we can call the subtle counterparts of our nerves. There are many nadis in our body-brain system, the most important being the sushumna. It is this nadi which is responsible for and controls what we call death.

The sushumna is like a cable with three parts, each within the other. The outer or thinnest layer is known as the vajra nadi. The thick inner cable is called the sushumna and the thin, very fine central and silvery strand is the chitrini nadi. It is the outer core or the vajra nadi that plays a dominant role in our lives and in our death. Both the sushumna and the chitrini are dormant, and can only be activated by the higher practices of yoga.

These three nadis can lead to three different kinds of death which we will discuss next week. In our life, everything happens in cycles. For some time we are sad, then happy again and this inner psychological cycle of pain and pleasure keeps rotating. All things that are periodic in nature are controlled by this vajra nadi. Nothing is stable, everything follows the law of the pendulum. It is to free the disciple from this instability that the guru teaches him the vajroli mudra - not the one depicted in yoga textbooks but its higher psychic counterpart.

At the point of death, we will feel a deep pulling within us. This will be the vajra nadi being pulled just like the string of a bow. The arrow on the bow is us - not the physical but our subtle form, made up of our psychic body and the divine fragment in us, which many call the aatma. This arrow is going to be shot into an unknown dimension, though with hard practice and proper guidance this whole process can be mastered and known.

How will we know the final moment has come? Many a time, we see someone we know but try as we would, we just cannot remember their name. Similarly, in this extreme pulling, a moment comes when we cannot remember our own name. This is the moment of the final exit.

Voluntary Death

Article 39 - Voluntary Death

 

(Continued)

Let us look at three kinds of death: involuntary, voluntary and conscious. Most of us would love to live forever and so for us, death is involuntary. Can we make death voluntary? This is not easily done in the moment of death, but depends a lot on how we relate to suffering in our everyday lives.

We spend our whole lives seeking comfort and running away from suffering. Yes, this is the story of our lives which does not change for anyone - however rich, famous and powerful they may be. As long as we have this inner, nearly unseen and constant desire to escape from suffering, we can never make death voluntary. Every moment, whether we are sitting in a car or negotiating a business deal, we have this unseen desire that things should go well.

How can we practice making involuntary suffering voluntary? This does not mean we go looking for suffering. There is enough of it in the normal act of living. The price rise, the weather, the government, the family, my friend who did not call me for dinner… oh! There is enough of suffering to work upon.

The first and most important step in transforming suffering is to consciously not complain. When we complain, we are saying ‘I do not want it’. Suffering is then involuntary. The practice of not complaining about anything is a very strong one and if done with persistence, can transform our lives and psyche completely. This small practice can lead us to such a heightened state that we will never need a guru or any other practice.

At the end of every day, we must take an account of where we complained and consciously change it. Yes, we will be shocked to see how trivial and mechanical we are when it comes to complaining. Through practice, we start feeling a new power within us, as if we have risen above the suffering of life and can see it from afar. Then we ease into suffering spontaneously like the shift in a car’s gear. Now death will be not only voluntary, but highly orgasmic and joyous.

For a conscious death, we must sacrifice our personal suffering in its own fire or ‘yagna’.

(To be continued)

Article 38 - Understanding Death

 

Death is the epitome of life, the finale, and at the same time our greatest fear. In sleep we lose our conscious identity but there is no fear because we know that it returns to us on awakening. However, in death, we know we are losing it forever. Further, we have so many unfulfilled desires and the very thought of death means they remain unfulfilled.

 We will understand four energies that make up our psychic life. The first is that of thought or ‘vicharshakti’. Though it works at a very high speed, it is the slowest of the energies we use. Thoughts are digital and this energy can only perform one function at a time. That is why we blow our circuits when we are talking on the phone and someone interrupts, we can hear neither of them. The next is emotional energy or ‘bhavashakti’ which works at twice the speed of thought. This energy is not digital and can perform multiple tasks simultaneously. The best thing to do in the morning when we reach our office is to shift from the thinking brain to the feeling brain. This energy is soft, receptive and more accommodating. It is always in the present and so its very use brings joy and pleasure in the act of working without worrying of the fruits of actions.

The third which works at double the speed of emotions is sex energy, ‘sarjan shakti’. Life is a movement between polarities and it is this basic energy which causes all attraction and repulsion. It works very fast and we do not realise that we have been attracted to something till we say that we like it, which is a feeling. This energy penetrates time and space and allows something from an unseen dimension to be born in the manifest. It brings sets of materials from two parents together and joins them to create a new form. It is the energy of creativity expressed in art, literature and even creating a garden.

The energy of death or ‘yama’ is the fastest. It breaks down the psychic elements in the manifest world and throws something into the unknown. The guru teaches the student to work on this energy so he can enter death with awareness. (To be continued)

 

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