For my first few years on the path I was very protective of my new-found spirituality, in particular deflecting questions from my intellectually agnostic, Harvard-educated parents. They were bewildered by my lifestyle choice, as they had never placed any importance on religion or spirituality, and they had expected me to enroll in medical school upon graduation from Harvard.
After several years, though, I saw an opportunity to share Guru’s philosophy with my mother. Visiting her in the hospital as she was recovering from surgery for a hiatal hernia, I brought along a copy of Sri Chinmoy's book Death and Reincarnation. In retrospect that seems kind of nervy of me, given that a hiatal hernia is hardly a life-threatening condition—it’s more of an inconvenience.
She seemed interested enough, though, so I spent over an hour reading to her about “death is not the end,” the immortality of the soul, and the soul’s progress through successive incarnations. The idea that each lifetime is like a grade in school with certain lessons to be learned (which makes death the equivalent of summer vacation!) appealed to her, as she was a grade school teacher.
And the idea that people carry over talents from one incarnation to the next, like Mozart who was a piano prodigy at a very young age, also appealed to my mother, who had been a concert pianist in college.
I was surprised at how long her interest kept up, until we were interrupted by the phone ringing next to her hospital bed. It was my grandmother calling to tell her that my grandfather, her father, had died suddenly and unexpectedly. What were the chances?
Unconsciously—or perhaps with some higher guidance—I had prepared her with Guru’s soul-soothing words to receive this traumatic news. It was better than anything I could have learned in medical school.
When death challenges life,
Life says to death:
“I belong to a Realm
Far, far beyond your realm.”