Our trip around the mainland concludes in San Diego. We had a wonderful opportunity to meet with Swami Harinamananda of the Ramakrisha Mission, visited with devotees on a short outing and held satsang at the home of Kulapati and Kulamata Visswanathan.
Paramacharya Sadasivanthaswami made his way to Phoenix for two days and was hosted by Chellapa and Banu Devi Deva. The Deva's offered their home as a gathering place and a small group of devotees gathered for Ganesha puja, an inspired talk from Swami and a wonderful home-cooked dinner.
The second annual Victoria dialogue for 2017 went smoothly as Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami discussed our views on death and dying, specifically how to approach it through the real-life stories of enlightened masters.
The subject was discussed for several weeks by the Ganapati Kulam staff because of the delicate nature of people's fear of the unknown. But, what better way to get rid of fear then to face it head on.
We all watched as Paramacharya researched, meditated and slaved over his presentation for months, only to toss it aside a few days before the event. Why? He decided the elaborate graphics he had prepared would stand between him and the audience and he wanted a more personal, less professional talk.
In a future YouTube video you will be able to see and hear his unscripted approach to reaching that final moment that we all must face one day and how to best view it. He also tells us he has a plan to put the talk in Hinduism Today format. Lots to do when we get home it seems.
Meantime we share one of the ten stories and one of the ten reasons, so you have a little glimpse.
When the Chinese monk, wanderer and eccentric Master P'u-hua sensed that his end was near, he announced to the people of the nearby town that he would go the next day to the Eastern Gate and die there. Wishing to be at this extraordinary event, the whole community went in a procession behind him and assembled to pay their final respects. P'u-hua then announced: "A funeral today would not be in accord with the mythical Blue Crow. I will pass away tomorrow at the Southern Gate." The next day most people followed him again, but upon his arrival he decreed, "It would be more auspicious to leave by the Western Gate tomorrow." On the third day fewer people came, and he decided on the North Gate instead. On the fourth day he picked up his own coffin and carried it to the Northern Gate, where just a few people were waiting. Ringing a small bell, he entered the coffin and passed away. Some say this was his way of having only the most ardent followers attend his Great Departure and not just the curious.
The Third Reason Not to Fear Death Is that
releasing the body is the way of things. All that takes form eventually dissolves that form. Mountains rise quickly and slowly erode. Stars are slowly assembled and swiftly explode. Even galaxies form and perish. All that lives ultimately dies.
In the case of human life, it is the return of the mortal to the immortal, the time-bound to the infinite source. Some describe it as a river flowing back to its source, the ocean. The water is not destroyed in that merging. That which was two becomes one again.
Studies on near-death experiences reveal it is a time of elevated consciousness, unity, light and love. It can also be accompanied by great mental lucidity and out-of-body awareness. Those who have returned from death report they have a changed view of the world, a more forgiving nature, a more loving attitude. Death, they say, changed them for the better.
On September 30th an Appreciation Luncheon was held on the campus of the University of Victoria in Canada. Here in the capital of British Columbia we celebrated decades of support at a gathering hosted by the Pillay family who lives here. Sadasivanathaswami called each family forward and shared a few stories and examples of their Sivathondu. There were testimonials and tears and lots of love in the room. Each one present felt they were undeserving, that it was just part of their life to do these things. But then that is how the generous of heart always feel. Paramacharya made it clear that though we were honoring a few, there were far more around the world that deserved to be in the room. He mentioned that we are all fulfilling Gurudeva's visions and projects under Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami's amazing oversight.
As Gurudeva loved to say, "Just a little bit of kindness is so easy to express. Just a little bit of kindness heals the mind. And in this day and age, when so many are frustrated, troubled and need a little bit of help, appreciation and encouragement, your kindness can help. The kindness that you express in what you do is healing unto you, too. So, see yourself as a being that always expresses kindness."