I had been meaning to write about this recently published compilation of my teacher’s writings on death and consolation in loss ever since I first read it last August. I never imagined that I would turn to such a task in the context of his own death a mere few months later.
The synchronicity of this book’s publication shortly before the author’s own death proves a compelling tool to parse out teachings to help his students cope with mourning the loss of his outer presence in their lives.
This book, however, is compelling under any circumstances and for any audience. It offers a glimpse into death, the afterlife, reincarnation and advice for lessening the sorrow associated with the loss of a loved one.
The book addresses topics such as:
- Is death the end?
- Fear of death
- What happens in the afterlife
- How to maintain a connection with departed loved ones
- Rituals and practices at the time of the funeral and burial
- How to find consolation and peace when mourning
One particularly moving chapter comprises a letter that Sri Chinmoy sent to a minister friend who had recently lost his son in a car accident. In the letter, he emphasizes that God is the real owner of his son and that God also loves all of his children infinitely more than we do in our limited human capacity. He states, “So we should feel that our dearest one has outwardly left us to perform a special mission at another place.” In this letter, Sri Chinmoy also offers advice for coping with this undeniable sorrow:
Now I wish to tell you, Reverend, how you and your wife can console yourselves and even get inner joy from your outer loss. Please keep around yourselves as many pictures as possible of your beloved son at different times of his life. Please write down your sweetest memories of your beloved son. Then, from time to time, read those memories and become the sweetness, beauty, reality and divinity of your son’s life. While you are trying to grow into the memories, feel that your son is not only with you and in you, but for you.
Sri Chinmoy then continues with advice on two methods for staying in touch with their son inwardly,
with your heart’s cries and your soul’s smiles. Through prayers, we develop our heart’s cries. Through meditations, we develop our soul’s smiles. Either of these two can be applicable to commune with your beloved son or to derive joy from merely thinking about him.
Later in the book, Sri Chinmoy offers more practical advice in the form of a special meditation technique to try if one is visiting someone in the hospital and that person is dying.
You do not have to look at the person, but put your whole concentration on his heart. First try to imagine a circle at his heart, and try to feel that this circle is rotating there like a disc. That means that life-energy is now revolving consciously in the aspiration or in the vessel of the person who is sick. Through your concentration and meditation, you are entering into the heartbeat of that person. When you enter into the heartbeat, then your consciousness and the aspiring or dying consciousness of the other person rotate together. While they are rotating, pray with your whole being to the Supreme who is your Guru and everybody’s Guru, “Let Thy Victory be achieved. Let They Will be done through this particular individual. I want only Your Victory.”
Another important message in the book is his explanation of ancient Eastern wisdom on death itself. The book begins with his mention of the soul and death from the viewpoint of the Bhagavad Gita. From this perspective, the soul is birthless and deathless and the human life is a journey experienced through countless lifetimes coming back down to Earth.
In simple and down-to-earth language, Sri Chinmoy speaks of life and death as different rooms in a house and that we should “recognize death as nothing but a rest. A rest is necessary at the present stage of evolution.” In his chapter called ‘Fear of Death’ Sri Chinmoy patiently explains, “Death is like a stopping place on the road of Eternity and life is the traveller, the eternal traveller. The soul is the guide. When the traveller becomes tired and exhausted, the guide says, ‘Take a rest, for a long or a short time, and then afterwards start your journey again.’ ”
The World Beyond is itself a powerful stopping place for anyone searching for insight into death, the afterlife and coping tools for processing grief from a spiritual perspective. I highly recommend it for a glimpse into the secrets of the “world beyond.” After finishing this moving and comforting compilation on a difficult issue for many, you will find yourself affirming the sentiment expressed by the author:
The song of the birds says that there is no death. The birds fly in the sky. The sky signifies Infinity. If one remains in Infinity, then how can there be any death? So the song of the birds always declares the Immortality of the soul.
Read The World Beyond by Sri Chinmoy and hear the birds sing.
To purchase the book published by Aum Publications, see ordering information at SriChinmoybooks.com.