Nov 05

The World Beyond by Sri Chinmoy – Book Review

The World Beyond book cover by Sri Chinmoy
The World Beyond book cover by Sri Chinmoy
The World Beyond by Sri Chinmoy offers insight into death and bereavement informed by Eastern spiritual philosophy and the author’s firsthand wisdom as a spiritual teacher to thousands of seekers around the world.

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
  • Suffering
  • 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.

Sep 14

All Consuming and 43 Things

All Consuming
All Consuming

Over at the blog The Cool Librarian, I saw the widget for the first time from the All Consuming site affiliated with 43 Things. All Consuming solves the unresolved issue for me related to LibraryThing, in which I would rather show what books I am currently reading instead of the ones I own and in most cases have already read. Since I work in a library, almost everything I’m reading is also a borrowed library book so it doesn’t really qualify as an item to catalog in my personal library at LibraryThing.

The All Consuming site is pretty fun. It allows you to share books, movies, music and food – yes even food! that you are either currently consuming, have already consumed or are intending to consume. People ask questions about what they should read next, rate what they read and create favorite lists. You can upload photos for items missing one and add entries for something not already in there. I already uploaded an album cover for Ferron’s Impressionistic CD which is a nice greatest hits retrospective collection of her music.

43 Things‘ purpose is to inspire you to set goals and get ideas from what other people are entering there as well. Since I like to meditate, reading entries related to the meditation tag already found me referring someone to a homestudy class in meditation available on the Sri Chinmoy Centre website. Once you set a goal, you can also prompt a message to you at some future point in time to remind you of your intentions.

So that’s the background on my new “I am consuming” widget in my sidebar. Maybe my next post will mention more about the two spiritual books I’m currently reading “A Sacrifice of Praise” and “Wisdom Walk.” Until then, what are you consuming as we speak? Hope you’re enjoying it!