I first encountered the Bhagavad Gita in my freshmen religion class, when it was part of our assigned reading. I can’t say it made any impact then, but once I got to India, it came to mind again. I bought a copy and then this deck of inspirational cards with wisdom from the Gita.
Here’s the copy on the back of the Rebirth card: For one who is born, death is certain; for one who has died, birth is certain.
Since you cannot avoid either fate, you should not lament. Most religious traditions talk about some form of rebirth, but I particularly like the idea that like birth, death is inevitable, so why fight it?
Because, the Gita points out, we will be born again. So many of my aging friends are thinking about their mortality. For those who have not solidified their spiritual beliefs, this is a particularly significant time. Drawing closer to the veil, we’re forced to examine what we believe. The logical thinkers among us seek proof of life after life. I was like that, too, for a long time. It was a long quest and proof was hard to come by. But I turned up enough evidence to solidify my spiritual beliefs in unexpected ways.
Most of us fear death because we fear the unknown. Interestingly, those who have had near-death experiences report they no longer fear death, because they’ve seen what comes next. I’m taking their word for it. My quest for more information continues. In June I’m going to an after-life conference in Portland. The two keynoters are Raymond Moody, M.D., who started the life-after-life movement decades ago, and neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, M.D., whose near-death experience got a lot of media attention when his book describing it came out.
I watched my mother’s attempts to come to terms with her death in 1999. At that time I was unprepared to assist or even listen, but I was aware of her thoughts. I have few regrets about the way I supported my mother at that time, but my inability to serve as an effective sounding board for those hard thoughts is one of them. It’s no wonder that her only appearance in my dreams contained an admonition that I should get my spiritual act together. (So, Mom, how am I doing?)