Dead or just meditating? An Indian court to decide

wildmind meditation newsDean Nelson, The family and followers of one of India’s wealthiest Hindu spiritual leaders are fighting a legal battle over whether he is dead or simply in a deep state of meditation.

His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, the founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious order, with a property estate worth an estimated £100 million ($181 million), died in January, according to his wife and son.
However, his disciples at his ashram have refused to let the family take his body for cremation because they claim he is still alive.

According to his followers, based in the Punjab city of Jalandhar, he …

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I’m nothing, yet I’m all I can think about

March 8, 2013

tara-brachWriting and speaking about the nature of awareness is a humbling process; as the third Zen patriarch said, “Words! The way is beyond language.” Whatever words are used, whatever thoughts they evoke, that’s not it! Just as we can’t see our own eyes, we can’t see awareness. What we are looking for is what is looking. Awareness is not another object or concept that our mind can grasp. We can only be awareness.

A friend who is a Unitarian minister told me about an interfaith gathering that she attended. It opened with an inquiry: What is our agreed-upon language for referring to the divine? Shall we call it God? “No way” responded a feminist Wiccan. … Read more »

Life is short. Be kind.

January 25, 2013

Dried BouquetA lot of people I know have experienced loss recently. Loss is particularly hard when your last words to the deceased person were spoken in anger.

I don’t know whether you’ll get married. I don’t know whether you’ll have children or grandchildren. I don’t know if you’ll be kind. But I know you’ll die. Because that’s something we all do. Death is something we often don’t want to think about, even though it’s inescapable and a simple fact of life.

Hence,in the Buddhist teachings, we find reflections such as this:

Those who have come to be,
those who will be:
All will go,
leaving the body behind.
The skillful person,
realizing the loss of all,

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“Stone, Sea and Sand: Poems and Reflections on the Buddha’s Teaching on Impermanence” by Satyadevi

November 10, 2012

Between November 2010 and February 2011, New Zealand, a country of 4 million people, suffered two of the biggest disasters in its history.

The Chilean mining disaster had many of us riveted to our TV screens as miner after miner was brought to safety, having been trapped underground for 69 days. This was not to be the case in New Zealand. After an explosion at the Pike River Mine in New Zealand’s South Island, anxious families, buoyed by the Chilean experience, waited for long days and nights for a breakthrough that might bring their men home. None of the 29 miners and contractors survived.

Only three months later, Christchurch, New Zealand’s third largest city, was … Read more »

I love you and one day I will die

November 5, 2012

I love you and one day I will die. I can not escape it. Death comes to everyone, including me.

Death is unavoidable; it will come to all of us, today, tomorrow, next month, next year.
Death is unavoidable; even I will die. Even you will die. Everyone we know will die.

Death is unavoidable, you and I may die before our parents. You and I may die before our children. You and I may die before our friends. You and I may die before our loved ones. You and I may die after our loved ones.

Death is unavoidable; this is the only thing we can guarantee in life. During this next year someone … Read more »

Tibetan sky burial photographs

September 29, 2012

An astonishing series of photographs of a Tibetan “sky burial,” where a corpse is cut up and fed to vultures, with the remains being pounded into dust, has been viewed almost three quarters of a million times in 24 hours.

The images (view here) are very graphic, but as Justin Whitaker says, “As a poignant reminder of the impermanence of this body, they’re worth viewing.”

According to Wikipedia, in Tibet the practice is known as jhator, which means “giving alms to the birds.”

Sky burial is traditional in Tibet, where the ground is too rock for interment to be practical, and where a lack of wood similarly makes cremation unfeasible for people.

This … Read more »

We are the miracle

September 3, 2012
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Joyful to have
such a human birth
Difficult to find
Free and well-

Composed by Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. 1974.

It is a miracle that we are born, and that we are still living. Every minute, world wide approximately 267 people are born and 108 people die. Just over 40% of us survive birth, and none of us survive death. Last month I asked you: ‘How are you making the most of your precious birth? I ask you again this month, as it is a reflection we could do daily.

Our human birth
ordinary and extraordinary
Our human birth
joyful and painful
Our human birth

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Presence in the face of dying

August 30, 2012

At the end of a daylong meditation workshop, Pam, a woman in her late sixties, drew me aside. Her husband, Jerry, was near death after three years of suffering from lymphoma. “I wanted so much to save him,” she told me. “I looked into ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, every alternative treatment I could find, tracked every test result . . . We were going to beat this thing.” She sat back wearily in her chair, shoulders slumped. “And now I’m keeping in touch with everyone, giving updates, coordinating hospice care. If he’s not napping I try to make him comfortable, read to him . . .”

I responded gently, “It sounds like you’ve been … Read more »

How thinking about death can lead to a better life

April 22, 2012

Thinking about death can actually be a good thing. An awareness of mortality can improve physical health and help us re-prioritize our goals and values, according to a new analysis of recent scientific studies. Even non-conscious thinking about death – say walking by a cemetery – could prompt positive changes and promote helping others.

Past research suggests that thinking about death is destructive and dangerous, fueling everything from prejudice and greed to violence. Such studies related to terror management theory (TMT), which posits that we uphold certain cultural beliefs to manage our feelings of mortality, have rarely explored the potential benefits of death awareness.

“This tendency for TMT research to primarily deal with negative … Read more »

A path to live life to the fullest

November 30, 2011

In Buddhism there are four reminders, things we should consider to make the most of our lives and to prepare us for death.

The four reminders are:

  • our lives are precious
  • we are not immortal
  • our actions have consequences and
  • we can learn to transcend pain.

These reminders can make a difference in how we live our lives, if we keep them in mind and reflect on them each day.

1. The preciousness of life – our lives are precious and our physical and mental health, energy, freedom, food, and money give us opportunities to make the most of each and every day. So each day, we might ask ourselves, “Am I making the most … Read more »