Assistance for the Disembodied


chapter 8

Assistance for the Disembodied

As we have responsibilities for the living, we have responsibilities for the dead.


Why Are After-death Rituals Needed

Earlier,  we already saw that when a person dies, the life energy does not leave the body all at once. For all practical purposes, one may be dead, but if you are a doctor who has seen enough deaths around you or if you are an undertaker—you would know that death is a process that happens over a period of time and is not an event that occurs instantaneously. This is because, during the process of disembodiment, the Pancha Pranas do not exit all at once but recede in stages. It is like this, you were not just born one day. It took a little over nine months before you could become a full life. Similarly, even one’s exit does not happen just like that. Life exits the body in stages. Usually, a person who is dying can do with some help at this stage. Everyone dies, and at some point or the other in our life, we all will lose someone who is dear to us. So we would definitely like to see that something nice happens to them.

Suppose you are living in a rented house and your landlord asks you to vacate. You vacate, but in parts. You may take your furniture, but leave your kitchen things; you may take your kitchen things but leave your bedding, because you are still not done with the place—you want to keep coming back and stay connected to the house. When the landlord sees this, he will throw everything out. In a way, that is exactly what needs to be done with you.

If it is a yogi who has done enough work on his or her five vayus, when they leave, they will gather everything and go. They do not want to linger with a dead creature, so when they vacate, they do it completely. This is a good way to leave, but to leave like this, one needs certain mastery over one’s energies. If a person leaves like this, there is no need to do any rituals because he has already exited completely. But if you don’t know how to vacate, if you are too attached to the dwelling in which you have been and you try to vacate in instalments, someone else can push you out a little bit.

This process can be very effectively done within the first three to five days after the death. Up to eleven days, the possibility is still pretty good. Up to fourteen days, it is possible, but after that it becomes difficult. If the one who has died is very young or very vibrantly still alive after one left the body, then it is possible to do something up to forty to forty-eight days. After that, our ability to access that disembodied being diminishes.

When they are still confused and in a transitory state, they are more accessible. It is like when you have some real big problem confounding you in your life, then you come to me and plead, ‘Sadhguru, please do something.’ Now, you are easy to deal with at that time. But when you are doing a little well and in comfort, no one can talk to you! These beings are also like that. In fourteen days, they will settle in their new accommodations and it will be a little hard to convince them after that.

Moreover, if you do certain things and dismantle the Vyana Vayu, which is exiting the physical system, the subtle body will not get the Vyana Vayu that it needs to preserve itself. So it will start crumbling. Even now, if we remove the Vyana Vayu from your body, it will crumble. The body will start dismantling itself. When you take away the Vyana Vayu or limit the amount of Vyana Vayu which is getting into that system after death, the preservation quality goes away. Now, it becomes desperate to seek a new body. So these rituals interfere with the process of Vyana Vayu exiting the body and don’t allow it to proceed further. Now, it is almost like they have gone to a new place or a new country but they don’t have an ID yet. So they cannot find accommodation, nor can they go anywhere. They will start crumbling.

Death rituals are not just to assist the dead person in his or her journey, they are also for the benefit of those who are left behind, because if this person who dies leaves a lot of unsettled life around us, our lives will not be good. It is not that ghosts will come and catch you. But it will influence the atmosphere. It will influence those around, psychologically. It will also influence the quality of life around. This is the reason every culture in the world has its own type of rituals for the dead. Generally, a lot of it is to settle certain psychological factors of the near and dear ones. In some way, they did have a certain relevance and science behind them too. But, probably, no other culture has such elaborate methods as the Indians do. No one has looked at death with the kind of understanding and depth that this culture has. Right from the moment that death occurs, or even before it occurs, there are whole systems to help a person die in the most beneficial way. Having looked at life from every possible angle, they want to extract the most out of everything towards Liberation or mukti. If death is going to occur, they want to make use of even that to attain mukti, in some way. So they created powerful rituals for the dying and for the dead.

Today, these rituals have become even more important because almost everyone on the planet is beginning to die in unawareness, without the necessary understanding of the life mechanism within themselves. In the olden days, most people died of infections and diseases. So people created a whole science to help them beyond their body. When they were in the body, maybe people around could not figure out what the ailment was or the person did not get the necessary treatment or something else happened and they died. So at least after his or her death, they wanted to help them in such a way that they did not hang around for too long and dissolved quickly. This is how the whole science behind these rituals evolved. Unfortunately, today, it has mostly become a meaningless ritual being done without the needed understanding or expertise.

When we do not take care of the dead properly, the adolescent children in that society will suffer immensely because of this. The first thing these disembodied beings go towards is adolescent life because that is the easiest and the most vulnerable human life around. Adolescence is like a human version of moulting, where growth is very rapid, not only physiologically but in every other way. Because of this, during this period, life is very susceptible to influence. If there is any positive or negative energy around, adolescents are the first people to absorb it.

Among adolescents, girls are even more susceptible to these things than boys are. But preadolescent children—up to eight to ten years of age—are generally immune to these things. Nature has given them that protection, so you don’t have to protect them much. It is mostly children between ten to twenty years of age who can get affected. When I say affected, I am not referring to their hormonal stuff or them losing their way with drink and drugs. That can also happen, but there are other kinds of influences that they can come under. Today, you can see how much upheaval children are going through just to face adolescence. In the previous generations, adolescence was never such a struggle. One reason for this is that we are not taking care of those who have departed in an appropriate manner. It is like loose software hanging around and adolescent life naturally tangles with that. So either because of conscious knowing or by instinct, people in every culture in some way tried to create protective atmospheres for the adolescents.

Many traditions always kept the places of their dead as sacred, and women and children were never allowed to enter those spaces. Whether it is the Mayans or the Native Americans or people of Latin America—women and children were not allowed in these places. In India, of course, there were elaborate guidelines for these places as to who could go and when and all that. This is not just for psychological reasons. This has an existential impact on the system and those who are more vulnerable will get more affected by these things. So in this culture, after the body was disposed off, there were elaborate processes to clean the person too.

Unfortunately, over a period of time, people distorted and exaggerated things in such a way that these rituals have become largely commercial, with some kind of ritualistic circus being conducted. There are still a few who can do it well, but they have become very scarce. For some people, this is a potential for perpetual business, because whatever the state of the economy, people will continue to die. So when there is such an opportunity, they just cannot let it go. Entrepreneurship comes alive, not even sparing the dead.

Runanubandha—The Web of Debt

If you want to understand how dead people can affect our lives, you should first understand what runanubandha is. It is like this: it takes many things to make an individual human being who he or she is. Of these, the aspect of bonding is one of great significance. However, modern societies have grossly neglected it. With everything that our five sense organs come in touch with, in some way, knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously, we establish a certain bond with it. This is not just with the people around us but also with the very land that we walk upon, the air that we breathe and just about everything that we see, hear, smell, taste and touch. This is because none of these things happen without investing a certain amount of energy in it. You cannot see something unless you invest some energy in it. You cannot really listen to something unless you invest some energy in it. You cannot taste or touch anything unless something of you is invested. With this investment comes a bonding. In traditional terms, this is called runanubandha.

Runanubandha exists because the body has its own memory. It is a certain kind of physical memory that you carry within you. It is different from the genetic factors that are transmitted from parent to child. You pick up runanubandha through the course of life in many ways. One common way is through physical contact. The body remembers any kind of intimacy you have with any physical substance. This is the reason why, traditionally, in India, people greet each other with folded hands because they do not want to acquire that extra runanubandha that can create bondage and impede their Liberation process. Contact with certain types of substances also has more of an impact than others.

In India, traditional people never take certain substances like salt, sesame seeds or oil from someone else’s hands because they want to avoid developing runanubandha. If you just as much as use someone’s clothes, you could develop runanubandha. At the Yoga Center, all the brahmacharis wash their clothes separately. This is because all of them are doing sadhana and everyone has their own specific characteristics. We do not want it all mixed up. Another way to prevent a mix-up is to coat the clothes with soil in every wash. Sadhus and sanyasis always use finely sieved red earth to dye their clothes. The clothes are originally white, but because they are constantly washed with filtered earth, they turn mud-coloured. This is to ensure that the only runanubandha that they have is with the Earth—not with the people or things around them.

Another way you develop runanubandha is through relationships. Even if you just as much as hold someone’s hand, you develop runanubandha. Of all the relationships, sexual relationships have maximum impact in terms of the amount of memory that they leave upon you, compared to any other kind of substance you come in touch with. This is not a question of guilt or ridding yourself of guilt. Guilt is a social phenomenon. What you feel guilty about essentially depends upon the norms of the society you live in. If you feel guilty about something in one society, you may not feel guilty about the same in another society. This is not about social conditioning—this is an existential reality.

Since Indian culture is essentially oriented towards Liberation, people took enormous pains to ensure that they kept their runanubandha only to the extent that is absolutely necessary when they were alive. When they were physically present here, because people had a variety of relationships—blood, sexual or transactional—a certain physical sameness happened. So there was a runanubandha with the person. When the person died, efforts were made to obliterate the runanubandha with this person as much as possible. That is how conscious the culture has been.

You must break this relationship with the dead person for you to be able to live well, because the nature of life is such that at times you can become susceptible; then both the right and wrong kind of things can enter you. If this runanubandha is not properly broken, as can be seen happening in modern societies, it will definitely affect your physiological structure. It weakens your body and your psychological structure in such a way that you will not only suffer from grief, it will also lead to certain derangement of life. This is why Indian culture evolved many methods in the rituals that were performed after death to consciously dissolve the runanubandha.

Kalabhairava Karma—An After-death
Ritual at Isha

For a long time, we used to provide this service for the dead, personally, for people who approached us. If at the instant a person died, if someone sent me their picture, there is something that I would do for them in the first three days after death. Sometimes we could do a lot, sometimes we could do only a little. Sometimes we could even do an absolute job depending upon who it was. We would not tell them what we have done, but we would do something for sure. Till now, we have done this for thousands of people. But as the number of these requests increased, we thought this service needs to be scaled up. Now, at the Yoga Center, we do a proper ritual called the Kalabhairava Karma. This will greatly aid and assist the journey this departed being has to make now. All it requires is a photograph of the dead person and a piece of cloth used by them. It would be good if the blood relatives of this person are present while the ritual is being performed at the Yoga Center.

So how is it possible that with just a photograph and a piece of cloth we can assist the person who has died in their journey? One way of understanding life is that everything that you know as life right now is in some way an imprint of a certain memory. Now, when I say memory, I am not talking about just remembering something in the conscious mind. It goes beyond that. You are in the human form, with two hands, two legs and all that because of the Evolutionary Memory. In this human form, there are specific manifestations like the skin colour, the shape of the nose, the shape of the eyes, etc., because of Genetic Memory. Even when these things are the same or similar, each human being is different in some way because of individual Karmic Memory. There are layers and layers of memories like this. Now, these memories are present in the mind, body and the energies of a person and play out in so many ways.

Essentially, what you call ‘individual lives’ are these small bubbles of memory—different levels of memory that have become different kinds of creatures. Of these creatures, a human being has the most complex memory. Because of the complexity of memory, the enhancement of abilities has happened and the enhancement of suffering also has happened. Other creatures do not suffer their memory like human beings. Sometimes they suffer a singular memory. Some birds and animals suffer one particular memory—maybe its partner died or maybe something else happened—they become depressed. They just remember that one thing and they suffer that. But a human being is not like that. He or she can remember a million small things and suffer a million times over, because human memory is very detailed and there is a vividness to it. There is a certain reality to it that is more real than the real. For most people, what happened yesterday is more real than what is happening right now. That is their experience of life. They live by memory.

When you live by memory, you live with one foot in the land of death and another in the land of life. That is torture!

If you want to look at it in a very rudimentary manner, let us say, you walked in your garden. Now, if you bring a sniffer dog, just by smelling the ground, he will know which way you went. They can do this for up to three or four days, sometimes even longer, if there has been no disturbance. This is because you leave puddles of memory when you walk—as our individual scent is a consequence of the unique nature of our complex memory structure. That is why a dog is able to trace it down. So if with just a few moments of your contact with the ground you are leaving puddles of memory for a creature like a dog to pick up, imagine how much memory you are leaving behind throughout the span of your life? How much memory do you think the clothes that you wore, the places you sat on, the places you slept on, the objects that you were in touch with and such other things carry?

Once a person is dead, in Indian culture, we always want to wipe out the runanubandha because we know yesterday has a power of its own. If you do not liberate yourself from it, yesterday will rule your tomorrow. Yesterday ruling your tomorrow means tomorrow never comes. Someone said this very forcefully, ‘Leave the dead to the dead.’ Leaving the dead to the dead does not mean ignoring those who died. It just means whatever happened yesterday, whatever happened in the previous moment, you must always be conscious it is dead. After a person dies, maybe they have attained mukti or they have gone somewhere else, we don’t know, but either because you were born to them or you were in touch with them in some way or the other, their memory imprints are on you. These imprints are not just in your mind but also in your body and energies as well. So one important aspect of death rituals is that you must become free of this, it is very important.

Becoming free of memory and losing your memory are two different things. If you lose your Conscious Memory, you may no longer remember them, but it does not mean you have become free of it. This will start to work within you in many unconscious ways. Therefore, we want to distance ourselves from our memory. We don’t want to lose it; we just want to carry it a little loosely on us. That is all. So with these death rituals, you do some things to free the departed but it is also important to free the living. Some distance must happen.

If there are too many puddles of strong memory, it will also trouble the dead. Close relatives, particularly if they had very loving relationships with them, will bother the dead. That is why, in this culture, when someone wanted to die, they went away to a place where they were not among family. You don’t want to be with your family when you die because, till the last moment, these attachments will go on. You want to be away, alone, clearly understanding that all the relationships we have made in this world are essentially of memory. Once these memories are wiped out, no relationship exists. It is now easy to establish that dimension within us, to become conscious of that dimension which is beyond memory, which is life itself. So for the departed one, we want to shave off as much memory as possible so that their process of Liberation becomes smoother, easier, not tangled up here and there.

The fourteenth day after a person has died is an important day while doing the rituals for the dead. This is the day when all the blood relatives of the person who has died must assemble and perform some rituals. On such an occasion, in traditional settings, you will see the relatives of the dead person taking account of who has come and who has not. They keep tabs if everyone has come because these are people who have strong memories, or runanubandha, with the person who has died. They have to come and in some way wash their memory and release the person. For fourteen days they would have collected all the little bits and pieces of memories that this person has left behind; now, they want to assemble the whole thing and dissolve it. This residual memory should not live on; it must go, dissipate in every possible way. So everyone who carries a piece is required to be there.

Those days are gone when the whole clan assembled when someone died. In today’s conditions, this is no longer feasible. Only one or two people come for Kalabhairava Karma. Furthermore, they grumble, ‘Do I have to come? Can I send it by DHL? Can I FedEx it?’ We do not know where all the memories of the person who died are stuck. So we do whatever best we can. In such cases, one simple thing to do is that you take a whiff of their memory and put it in a place which is naturally about disentanglement. Normally, they tie it in front of a Shiva temple because he is an ascetic—untouched by anything, always smeared in ash. So with Kalabhairava Karma, we use a photograph of the dead person and a piece of clothing that was in close contact with their body. Both these articles will have strong imprints of the memories of the person. Now, we do a process to dissolve as much of this memory as possible. What is not possible, leave it to Shiva. We don’t want to put these articles on the Dhyanalinga, so we burn them and tie the ashes in a cloth to the tamarind tree outside the Dhyanalinga entrance to take care of whatever is left.

Kalabhairava Karma is not a dig-and-clean process. We just mop up the surface so that nothing holds as far as possible. For most cases, this itself is enough. It is not good to put a number to these things, but it is just my guess that maybe around 10–15
per cent of the people would need very strong processes to release them. For another 60–70 per cent, you can release them with a very simple process like Kalabhairava Karma. For another 10–15 per cent that is in between, if some residue of that person is placed in a powerful space, which we are doing, it will do the job.

If we want to do a total thorough cleaning, which may be necessary sometimes, it will need a different level of involvement from both the parties—the person who performs the ritual and the relatives of the departed one. This gets complicated. It will need a much higher level of involvement and it does not always work out well. In case it does not work out well, it could be an unnecessary disturbance of life for those who are living. We don’t really want to rake it up, so we just wipe clean everything that is on the surface. This is what Kalabhairava Karma does. (Kalabhairava Shanti,  on the other hand, is mostly for the people who are living, but sometimes it is for the dead also.)

Now, if a close relative who carries a very strong memory of that person comes and spends enough time in the Dhyanalinga, even if there is no ritual, it may still work for that dead person. This is not because of the Kalabhairava Karma, this is the nature of the place. Even when we are alive, when we say that the Dhyanalinga will make you meditative, what we mean is that it will stop the endless mental diarrhoea that goes on in a person. When mental diarrhoea stops, it means the memory that is of the rotting kind gets reduced. Now, if there is no food in the stomach, there will be no diarrhoea, isn’t it? Similarly, if there is no memory rotting inside, there will be no thought process, it develops a distance from yourself.

Dhyanalinga does not care whether you are living or dead. All he knows is to separate the chaff from the grain. He wants to separate what is you from what is not you. He does not care whether you have a body or not. So if the relatives who carry a strong enough memory of the dead person spend enough time in the Dhyanalinga—say, two or three days around the full moon or new moon days—it could work well for the person who died.

The Scope of Kalabhairava Karma

Generally, all around the world, when these after-death rituals were performed, there were two components to it: one was to handle the emotions of those who were left behind and the other was to direct the departed being in a suitable manner. So in some cultures, some scriptures were read aloud to give people an understanding of what was happening, to allay their fears and reassure them that everything was all right. There were also some chants and rituals performed to soothe their emotions. In some cultures, there would be someone reading aloud as to what was happening to this person and egging them on to be brave and to move on to the next stage, and so on. But once you drop the physical body, you don’t have the discriminatory mind, so there is no comprehension of language. And there is no sound or silence. So there is no question of this person understanding this or that. That is for the living. With rituals, you can draw the being to something, you can direct the being in a particular direction, but you cannot talk to it.

The scope of what can be done with these rituals is wider. For example, there are people who direct these beings to be reborn specifically in either a wealthy family or the same family or a royal family. Such things can be done, but it is ridiculous because there is no guarantee that just because one is born in a rich family, one is going to live well. There are too many complexities of life which decide that. Moreover, those kinds of manipulations are not good to do. It does not work well for that life. The best thing is to make that ‘life bubble’ thinner and leave it. It will find its own way to a better place. So I am personally only concerned about peeling that life off as much as possible. If possible, all the way, but at least as much as you can make it into a thinner bubble than what it is. What will happen, how it will be reborn is not for you to worry about.

Let us say, there is a wind blowing. Depending on how light a certain substance is, it will land somewhere. A piece of paper or a feather may go far but a twig or branch may fall just a little away from you. Sometimes if the weight and the shape are right, then the feather may travel and not land for months together. The important thing is to make it light. How far it will fly, what will happen to it, where it will land, and so on, is subject to life. It is something that you don’t try to direct because those kinds of manipulations can lead to lots of troubles. Now, once someone is dead, people are very interested in knowing where the departed person is—in heaven or hell or whatever. Some people claim to be able to tell you that. You can determine whether a being is comfortable or in struggle. Accordingly, you can do certain rituals for that being. This is possible, but determining geographically where it is is rubbish because there is no ‘geographical where’.

If Kalabhairava Karma is done within the stipulated time, it will find its target. If it is done later, it may not be as effective. But definitely it will shorten the time the life just hangs. It reduces the limbo time for sure. By how much? This depends on each being. If you go back to the bubble analogy,  it depends on how big the bubble is and how thin the skin of the bubble is. But if it is done within eleven to fourteen days, we dismantle it to a large extent. If you want to take the bubble analogy further—after it has lost the body, by itself, the bubble may float around for a long time. It will keep on floating because it does not want to lose itself. But once Kalabhairava Karma is done, a quick cycle will happen. Kalabhairava Karma not only shortens the hanging-around time but it also makes it a more pleasant journey.

Can we liberate people with these rituals? So can we give somebody Mahasamadhi through Kalabhairava Karma? It is possible, but not always. There are various aspects to it. Unless that bubble is so thin already, it is not necessarily a Mahasamadhi. If there is such a being who is such a huge bubble but somehow could not burst by its own nature, Kalabhairava Karma may burst it and it could become Mahasamadhi. But otherwise, it makes the bubble very thin and fragile, so that it will want to find a physical body quickly because it cannot last long by itself. In any case, we can definitely hasten their journey.

If you want to do Kalabhairava Karma for yourself when you are alive, it becomes Kalabhairava Kriya. Basically, Kalabhairava Karma is being performed so that after you are dead, we mop up bits of your life that are sticking around here and there. Kalabhairava Karma is being done to you because you are not a yogi and you are unable to do the mopping up yourself. A yogi will withdraw to the forest and die alone somewhere in the forest because he has done everything that he needs to do for his life. No one has to do anything for him later. Everything is finished. No Kalabhairava Karma is needed. When he is gone, it is a complete evacuation of the space that he occupied. If you do not have that kind of mastery over your energies, you could do Kalabhairava Kriya. It can be taught to people but it will need an extreme sense of discipline about who you are and how you manage your energies and system.

It once happened: a cardiac surgeon had some trouble with his car, so he took it to the mechanic. The mechanic said it would be fixed in twenty-four hours. The following day when the surgeon went to collect the car, it was not ready and there was no responsible answer for the delay. Six days passed like this and, every day, the mechanic asked him to come the following day. After a week of this, the surgeon asked the mechanic, ‘Why are you doing this to me? I need to go to work, I have things to do and I don’t have a car.’ So the mechanic strutted around a little and said, ‘Well, you are a cardiac surgeon. What do you do? You fix the engines, just like me. But why are you paid fifty times more than me?’ The cardiac surgeon then realized what the problem was. He said, ‘I fix the engines when they are running. Can you?’ Kalabhairava Kriya is like that.

Doing something for the departed is one thing. Doing the same thing with oneself, when the engine is running, is another thing. If you want to release this thing when it is still running, it takes a different level of discipline. If you show such discipline in everything that you do with your life—that you are not clumsy, you are alert to every small thing, then you can do Kalabhairava Kriya. After that, when you leave, no one has to do anything for you. It will be definitely a great thing to do in one’s life, a fantastic thing to do for oneself. But it will need a sense of discipline, which is a very scarce material in today’s world.

Traditionally, they said, if you do Kalabhairava Kriya for yourself, then you cannot go back to your home or village and live a social life. You have to live the rest of your life away from any community, like an outcast. It is not that this person is an outcast. They just no longer belong there because they have created a genetic distance. They have got nothing to do with the family or the community because it is over for them. You can create distance to such an extent that even the fundamental physiological features of your system can change. It can be done.

Once we started conducting Kalabhairava Karma at the Yoga Center, people started asking if they could do Kalabhairava Karma for their dogs or cats also. Please! There is no need for that. Existentially, one fundamental difference between animal life and plant life is that a plant does not have a subtle body. There is a lot of reverberation in it, but there is no subtle body for a plant. A plant may gather an aura around itself. Certain trees or plants gather much more than others, so those plants and trees have been identified as sacred plants in India, as we want to benefit by being near then. But the plants do not generate it, because they do not have a subtle body.

All rituals done after death are about transporting the subtle body to the right place. When the subtle body is not well defined, there is no need to do anything nor is there a possibility to do something. An animal has a subtle body, but except in the case of cows and cobras, it is not very defined or very evolved. So we generally ignore the subtle body of all other animals. The subtle body of those animals can easily merge and mingle with nature, it does not really transport itself.

Cows and cobras are different because they have a more evolved subtle body. The subtle body of the cow has evolved through emotional competence. If you observe a cow, you will see that it is capable of a range of emotions. Sometimes it is almost humanlike. So that gives them a subtle body. On the other hand, the subtle body of the cobra has evolved through the sharpness of reverb perception. Most snakes are ‘stone deaf’, but they manage to listen through the entire length of their body. Theirs is truly ‘ear to the ground’ hearing, which is phenomenal. Out of this ability they too have developed a subtle body. So there is some meaning in trying to do something for them after death. This is why these two animals are especially revered in this culture. Traditionally, the carcasses of cows and cobras are never left just like that; they are either cremated or buried. Even if you find one lying around, you are supposed to bury it or cremate it.

Now, for those of you who have been initiated by me, it is true that there is no need to go through any death rituals. However, what if you were a ‘missed case’—someone who went through the initiation process, but missed it? For those of you who have been initiated by me, I would like you to finish your process when you are alive, when life is still alive and kicking in you, so that you don’t burden me when you are dead. I am willing to attend to you when you are alive. If you are incompetent, I am also willing to attend to you after you are dead. But why don’t you make yourself competent in such a way that here and after, you will be fine? You should live in such a way that there should be no need for any after-death rituals for you. You should promise me that you will not trouble me even after you are dead! Please make yourself in such a way that you will not need any ritual from me or anybody else when you are dead. Hereafter, things should happen the way they need to happen for you.

Training People for Death Rituals

If some things are not there in our lives, we can manage without them most of the times. But after-death rituals are something that no society can live without. They are absolutely necessary because you cannot do it to yourself. So is it possible that we can train people to do these after-death rituals? Very much so.

In India, people who handled the dead and those processes were called chandala s. In pre-Aryan times, theirs was considered one of the top professions in society. Over the next few thousand years, a stigma became associated with this and it became the lowest profession in the social hierarchy. In ancient times, untouchability was very much prevalent in India. People of certain castes were considered untouchables and others would not touch them. But even the untouchables would not touch a chandala because he was considered the lowest of the lowest. On the other hand, Adiyogi Shiva himself always kept himself in the company of chandalas because he thought they were the highest. He saw that their understanding of life and knowing was far better than that of all the other people who were conducting other things. So if you get into this service we will have to give it a new look, we will have to dress you up differently. We have to make you deliver this whole thing in a completely different way than the way it was traditionally done. Otherwise, shaking off the stigma and being able to be useful to people will be very difficult.

It would be best to do this without rituals, but to train people to conduct a ritual is so much easier than training people to do the same thing without a ritual. The main problem with rituals is that when the level of integrity drops in the social fabric, all rituals will turn corrupt. These rituals were created when the sense of integrity and commitment for each other was so strong that there was no room for any kind of misuse. But when the general fabric of integrity has gone down in the social structure, then, all rituals will be under suspicion because there is room for misuse.

Right now, if I teach someone how to handle the dead, they might want to display to their friends how they can make the dead dance or do something fanciful. Or they may want to become a ‘medium’! Moreover, even if you are clear that you do not want to do any such thing, people will try to influence your judgement when someone is dead. They will come and fall at your feet and say, ‘Do something, I just want to say one thing to my father, I wanted to say this for the last ten years, but I did not. I want to say it now.’ Because they cried and begged you, if you start setting up a conference call, then it is all finished. That amounts to misuse. If we teach you rituals, you will not be able to do all that. You have to just do the ritual and go home. Only if we generate people who are responsible enough to not do even one thing more than what is necessary, these things can be done. But rituals may not fit into today’s world.

In some cultures, women have been traditionally prohibited from entering the cremation grounds or performing these rituals because they could be susceptible to certain undesirable influences. But if what you are doing is just a ritual in name, then women can also do it. If it is a process where genuinely something is happening where you are handling a disembodied life, then involving women in it is a little bit of an issue. There are various reasons for this. One reason was in those times a woman would be pregnant at least eight to twelve times in her lifespan. So most of the time, she would be either pregnant or breastfeeding. At such times, she should not be in such situations. Particularly when she is pregnant. Even today, this is followed—if death rituals are being performed, they don’t allow pregnant women to be present there. Even if a woman is free from pregnancy and breastfeeding, she may still have her menstrual cycles, which again makes her vulnerable. This is the reason why women were kept away from cremation grounds. But if she is free from all of these situations, then there is no issue in her doing these rituals.

A woman will need to take much more care in doing such things than a man. A man’s biological structure is stable in a certain way; a woman’s biological structure goes through certain phases, so she has to take much more care about these things. There are different kinds of biological responsibilities for male and female bodies. Instead of understanding and appreciating this, we have imbibed a mentality in the world where we make every small difference into a discrimination. As a result, this whole gender discrimination has come up. Otherwise, these two aspects are complementary to each other and that is how it should be. If a certain discipline has to be maintained, you should not compromise that discipline for anything. Then even women can do it and in fact it is well known that it is far easier to help women to organize and discipline themselves than men. Women have a natural capacity to absorb order due to the deeper sense of survival instinct that is needed to fulfil their reproductive responsibilities.

We had the means to do all these things in this country, but now we are all English-educated, so we are ashamed of these things. At Isha, we hope to build a group of people to whom we can impart certain things. We are also nurturing and educating some children, hoping that they will grow in the right tradition so we can teach them some simple things about life which are very vital. Maybe they will not become engineers and doctors but we hope that they will grow into these things. We are also in the process of training some meditators in doing this kind of services. If you are willing to offer this, then we can train you to do these things properly. But you should never make it your profession; it should be done only as a service. When someone has lost their body, they are completely helpless; they need help and they can be helped, but not with corrupt, contaminated hands. It needs someone who cares and someone who has the necessary sense about it.

The Death of Infants

Is the death of infants any different from the death of adults? In a certain context, yes, because the way life manifests in a child is different from the way life manifests in an adult. If the child dies when the mother is still breastfeeding it or is under forty months of age, its life is not yet a fully established life in a sense. So it is not the same as the death of an adult. Actually, it is strange, but you will see the parents also generally recover very quickly from the child’s death in such cases. If a child above four years of age dies, their pain and suffering will be much more. If you say this, people will get very upset; that is different. But if you just observe them, you will see the impact is much less, because even in the parent’s consciousness, it is not fully established as a life. It is still in the process of taking shape.

When your child is an infant, that is when your contact with the child is big-time. By the time he or she is four, they start running around. You cannot hold them, they want to be all over the place. They want to see the world. But before they are four years, they are so much with you; but in spite of being physically connected to them, your connection to them is not so strong because they are not physically connected to their own body very strongly. So the same has not happened within you very strongly. If you observe life very carefully, you will know this. These days there is a lot of medical intervention to help, but until recently a lot of children would die before they were four years of age, without any ailment. They used to simply die because life was still not fully established. When this happens, there is a sense of loss but not much pain involved for the parents.

In children, until about forty to forty-eight months, the quantum of Prarabdha Karma for this life is still not decided. Life is still trying to make a judgement. This is why there is so much emphasis in the Indian tradition on what should be done during this time. There is an entire system of rituals during preconception, conception, birth and thereafter. This is just to ensure that this becomes a life which will take on the maximum Prarabdha Karma. Taking on the maximum is significant not because you want it to take on more suffering; it is to make it a bigger bubble, with more possibilities. But more possibilities also means possibly more challenges, which may in turn mean more suffering. When something comes with more possibilities, there is a possibility of more things going wrong—that is the risk. So if this life becomes sure-footed, it takes on more things. If it is not so sure-footed, then it takes on fewer things. You will keep it as simple and limited as possible. This is the nature of life. This is so even internally.

So if life becomes stable enough and capable enough by the time it is forty-eight months, it will choose a much bigger Prarabdha Karma. Once in a way, it happens by itself in nature, but, generally, you want to create such situations where you can blow a big bubble so that the new life takes on a big possibility. In today’s world, people think possibility means how much money you will make. Bigger possibility need not necessarily mean one is going to do well in the eyes of the society. In some way, it becomes a life that you cannot ignore. Most lives are ignored. No one may notice whether they existed or not. But once the bubble is big, whether one is in a desert or a forest, a village or a city or wherever they are, they will be noticed because they are a bigger bubble in some way. Is it big enough for the entire world to notice? We don’t know, but if one becomes a little larger bubble, it is a bigger possibility.

Generally, most people will not remember anything below four years of age because infancy is a time when life has not yet decided how it wants to shape itself. It is still exploring whether to expand or contract and what to do and how much. If there is a very threatening and difficult kind of situation, it may contract so that it feels safer with less Prarabdha Karma and more robust surface. It does not want to stretch itself. This is why, irrespective of which culture you come from, they all insist that if you come across a child, whatever your troubles are, you must smile at the child, you must interact lovingly with the child. Even in the most remote tribal cultures, this awareness is there because you must create that comfort so that it expands as much as possible. If you create a bit of un-conduciveness, it may choose to contract. We do not want that to happen. These are not decisions anyone decides consciously. This is the life’s own intelligence making these decisions.

Sometimes another kind of death happens in slightly older children. In some children, sometimes the quantity of Prarabdha Karma for this lifetime is not decided properly, so they die unexpectedly. Healthy children will just fall dead. Children of extraordinary intelligence who do things absolutely beyond people’s perception tend to die before they are six because their Prarabdha Karma was not properly fixed. Too many lifetimes of information begin to burst forth in them. Generally, one needs a different level of awareness and a certain dispassion to handle that but when it happens in a child, the body cannot sustain it and it just collapses. These are some reasons why the death of an infant is slightly different from the death of an adult.

The Parent–Offspring Connection
in the Afterlife

In India, when people die, they want to have their children around them. People particularly want sons to be around. This is the reason why, in India, people desperately want to have a son. This is because there is a certain ‘life connection’ between the children and the parents, and if you make use of it in doing rituals for parents, they can be much more effective. Daughters too are effective for this purpose, but people depended more on the sons for this role mostly because, in the past, it was only possible for the son to be around when they were dying. When the daughter came of age, she got married and went to someone else’s house. When the parent died, she may not have been able to come immediately because of the distance. She need not be in another continent, even if she were just 200 kilometres away, by the time she came, the cremation would have been over. Moreover, she would have her own children, husband and family. She could not just drop them and come away. She would have to make arrangements for her absence. And she could not travel alone because everything would be forested, so someone would have to escort her. Making all these arrangements would take considerable time and she would not be able to reach in time. But the son lived with the parents, so he would be available. So, they said, the son must be present for the rituals and it is sufficient for the daughters to come by the twelfth day.

So what is the nature of this connection between the parent and the child that could be made use of at that time? Generally, people’s interaction with each other is physical, mental or emotional. It never goes beyond that. But when a person dies or when a person sheds his or her body, all that is gone. The mental structure is gone, the emotions are gone, the body is for sure gone. So everything that you knew as yours is gone. So for all practical purposes, the children are as much a stranger to you as anyone. But once you bear a child, a certain space of who you are is occupied by that being whom you refer to as your child because you provided a body for this being. It is because of this connection that the parent has with the child that we can do certain things, which can help parents after they die. If the child does the right things after the death of the parent, he can even liberate the parent through this connection. People who lived completely unaware and did not do anything about themselves, depended on their children to liberate them. And that became a whole tradition by itself.

However, the reverse is not true. You cannot use the parents to liberate their dead offspring. We already saw in the previous section that when children die before they are four, the death is not the same as an adult’s because that life is still establishing itself. After the child crosses somewhere between forty to forty-eight months, physiologically, your connection with the child increases dramatically and it happens in your body. Most people don’t decipher this. They experience something happening within them before four years of age. But after four years, they are involved with so many child-related issues—where he is going, where he is, his school admission, this and that. Because of these things, they miss this experience. Otherwise, at that time, they would notice that something clicks in them because something in that body has clicked in. When that clicks in, you come to a certain ease because it becomes a part of you, you don’t have to consciously hold it, a natural holding happens.

You must understand that you are only a provider of the body for your child, you cannot create a being. It is not in human hands to create a being. When that being really clicks on to the body that you provided, something clicks on within you and occupies a certain space within your own system. This is how, if we just check someone’s energy, we know whether they have had children or not. This is how, sometimes, an astrologer in India is able to tell you how many children you have, whether they are surviving or not. They will give you a brief synopsis of your children, their characteristics, their names and everything, because your children occupy a certain space within you. If you are willing to observe, it is very much there in that person.

Now, this physiological connection is very strong until the child is twenty-one years old. After that, it starts dissipating once again. It is because of this, as a child grows up and becomes close to twenty-one, if you look at them, they look like absolute strangers. You cannot believe you bore them. You will wonder, are these my children? Is this the same little baby that I brought up? You cannot recognize what they are doing because you don’t have an abode in them, but they have an abode in you. This is a beautiful natural system of caring for the offspring, bringing it up and also being capable of releasing it when you have to.

If someone comes up to me and says, ‘Bless my children,’ I ask, ‘How old are they?’ If they are below twenty-one years, we really bless them because if they are below that age, you can bless a mother or a father and have a deep impact on the children. But if the children are over twenty-one years of age, we just banter with the parents, joke with them and send them because it is no use blessing them for their children. The children will have to come themselves.

This is why, if your parents die, we can do something for them through you. But if your children die, we cannot use you to do something more for them because they don’t have that little space within them that is occupied by you. It is always so that the future generation occupies a little space in the past but the past generation will not and cannot occupy any space in the future generation. This is the very nature of things. So once your children are gone, all you can do is perform Kalabhairava Karma for the child within the stipulated time. It will definitely do something significant. Beyond that, don’t try to do too many things to influence them. However, though your thoughts, your emotions and your actions have no influence over your child who is no more, if you turn inward, if your way of being becomes pleasant, that being will experience pleasantness. This also is only until that life finds another body.

If I say these things, people will get confused, but if you are a little observant, you can sense when this departed being has found another body. You may have seen this happening with many people who have lost children: until a certain point they cannot believe that they will ever recover from the death of their children, but suddenly one day it does not seem to matter any more. Everything seems to be normal and fine. If the parent observes the way their body behaves, how the breath behaves, the nature of their hair, their fingernails, the texture of their skin, they will know when this being has found another body. It will show. A close observation of the breath will reveal that the pattern of breath has moved from being tense and short to a distinct level of ease. This will also reflect in various other ways. The natural hydration process of the skin will change from dryness to softness due to the respiratory action of the epithelial. There are many more indicators; I will not go into them because people will start looking and start imagining all kinds of things. Now, once that life finds another body, then it is gone for good. You have nothing to do with it. Now, someone else claims them—‘This is my child’—and a whole new drama begins again.

The Importance of Death Anniversaries

Recognizing the needs of human beings during their lifetimes, ancient sages created a set of samskaras—rituals to purify and refine a person in order to assist one’s passage through life. There are about sixty-four samskaras, but the most important of these are sixteen in number and are known as sodasa-samskaras . These samskaras start from the time of one’s conception, which is to be performed by one’s parents and end with post-death rites to be performed by one’s descendants.

The post-death rites are known as antyeshti and are to be performed by the son of the deceased. It ensures the future welfare of the dead and frees the living from the debt or obligations they owe the parent. Some of the post-death rituals extend throughout the lifetime of the descendants, though on a progressively smaller scale. These rituals are typically performed as shraadha , on each anniversary of the last deceased ancestor and days of special significance like the new moon days, eclipse days, etc. Today, these rituals are commonly misunderstood as remembrances, but they are mainly to assist in dissolving one’s runa s, or debts, to the ancestors.

Some of these rituals are purely for sentimental reasons, to remember the dead, acknowledge their contribution to our lives, and so on. Let us say, someone died. Maybe the person’s children or grandchildren were very young at that time. They have no memory of him or her. So the parents want to bring back that memory to them so that the children can relate to that because you want children to be rooted in something. Whatever that person was, this occasion is to say a few wonderful things about them so that the children connect to that. It is a kind of legacy for them. That is one aspect of it. The other is to genetically distance yourself from the ancestors or to dissolve your runanubandha with them.

One important aspect of spiritual development is that you must distance yourself from your Genetic Memory and Evolutionary Memory. If you do not distance yourself, the same things will repeat themselves. What happened in your grandfather’s life may recur in your life. Maybe you are in a different time, so you look different but actually the exact same things may be happening. Maybe there is a difference in the environment they lived in and you live in. The activity they pursued and you now pursue may be different. So, on the surface, people think everything is different. But, experientially, the same thing may be happening because it will repeat itself. You will become a cyclical process. You will not be a fresh life. When you are not a fresh life, there is no question of release. There is no question of going beyond, there is no question of exploring something else.

So the most important reason these anniversary rituals are done in India is not for remembrance but to distance yourself from your ancestors. You want to distance yourself from the dead. The annual kriyas are created in such a way that you try to curtail your Genetic Memory as much as possible. The brahmachari initiation  is also similar. In India, if you want to take sanyasa ,  the first thing is that even if your parents are living, you do all the kriyas and karmas for them. It is not about them falling dead, that is not the intent. It is just that you create a distance between you and your Genetic Memory. Now, you are one step closer to being released.

Ancestor Worship

Our debt to our ancestors is huge. But for the successive layers of knowledge and effort, human civilization would still be very primitive. So it is customary in most cultures to express one’s gratitude to the ancestors. In some cultures, this ancestor veneration takes on a different proportion and turns to worship. Ancestors are granted demigod status and are looked up to for guidance and protection. They are therefore worshipped. The Native Americans are big on ancestor worship and perhaps even Australian aborigines and African tribes. However, in India, the rites and rituals for the ancestors are for a different reason.

In India, we distance ourselves from our ancestors; we don’t worship them. Here, people either think of taking care of their ancestors or they distance themselves from them. But ancestors taking care of you is not so prevalent in India. In other cultures, this worship may have come because there has been so much occult practice in those cultures. Their rites and rituals were largely occult, not spiritual processes. There must have been situations where the dead ancestors assisted them in battles and some other critical situations. They probably knew how to access and make use of that. There definitely would have been such situations. Because of that, the general belief that all ancestors will support you might have come. That is true here also.

Well, I myself have said that after I am physically gone, for eighty years, I will be here in a presence bigger than the way I am right now and see that everyone who is here is seen through in some way. There have been certain other beings who guided the subsequent generations. So similar things must have happened there. Based on that, there must have been a general belief that every ancestor was capable of doing it. Some might have done this for sure, but generally speaking, every ancestor is not capable of this.

The collective knowledge of past generations definitely benefits us in a million ways. If a strict code of how we intermarry is carefully managed, as it was in ancient India, our ability to access and benefit from the cumulative knowledge of past generations will be greatly enhanced. This is not in terms of the rigid caste system but on the basis of genetic compatibility. Many business families have exhibited this in phenomenal ways. Some of them also created deities that support this accumulation of knowledge in energy forms and managed genetic intermingling with great gusto. In many ways, this was more stringent than their religion. In many places, the land, rocks and the very space was managed with care. In certain cultures, they do not want to disturb even the soil and rocks that were witness to their ancestral glory because these were tools of retaining their knowledge.

However, in this age of machines and unbridled travel and intermingling, it may not be very practical. Today, your children trust Google more than what you or your forefathers have to say. It is unfortunate that we have moved from intuition to information.

Of Heaven and Hell

Those who have made a hell out of themselves are always aspiring to go to heaven. When life feels like hell, we hope that when we go up there, everything will be fantastic. Now, what is in heaven? According to Hindu lore, the food is very good in heaven. If you are a foodie, you must go to the Hindu heaven. Nala, the greatest chef, will himself cook for you, and no matter how much you eat, the vessels will always be full with food. If you go to another place, white-gowned ladies float around the clouds playing the harp for you all the time. If you like that kind of ambience, you must go there. And elsewhere, you will encounter virgin problems. If that is what you are looking for, you must go there. But how to get to heaven?

This happened in Alabama. At a Sunday school, the teacher was going full fire, but the audience was not like you; they were tiny tots, part of their ‘catch them young’ policy. The teacher was going all out and the children were sitting shell-shocked. Suddenly, he stopped, for dramatic impact, and asked: ‘What do you have to do to go to heaven?’ Little Mary in the front bench stood up and said, ‘If I mop the church floor every Sunday morning, I will go to heaven.’ ‘Absolutely!’ he said. Another little girl said, ‘If I share my pocket money with my less privileged friend, I will go to heaven.’ ‘Correct!’ he said. Another boy said, ‘If I help people who are in need, I will go to heaven.’ ‘Correct!’ he said. Little Tommy in the back bench stood up and said, ‘You gotta die first.’ Well, that is a qualification. If you want to go to heaven, you must die first.

When you die, depending on your culture, you will be buried, cremated or offered to the birds or animals. So you left your body here and went to heaven. Without a body, what are you going to do with good food and virgins? You know they talked about that special patra ,  where how much ever we eat, it doesn’t get empty—you must understand that is because nobody who had a body went there! Whatever bodiless people eat, it will stay right there, so naturally the vessel was always full. And that is also why they remained virgins forever.

We have been dealt these kinds of stories for a very long time. For thousands of years, you can’t be telling the same story. At least come up with a better story—a heaven where Wi-Fi is free! There is nothing wrong in enjoying a story, but believing a story is stupidity. How long will you tell yourself fairy tales? It is time as human beings we show some evolution. You must stop the bloody stories and start looking at the truth about your existence.

Right now, some people want you to believe that the moment you die, you go to heaven and there will be a party organized there; all your relatives and friends are waiting for you and you will have a great time. You must understand that when you die, you lose your body, but still you are here. You do not go anywhere. It is just that the dimensional shift has happened from being embodied to disembodied, or from physicality to a subtler physicality. It is not a geographical shift from here to heaven or here to hell or wherever it is. And the most important thing is, what happens after is not based on God’s retribution or that he is angry with you and that he must hang you or burn you in fire or fry you in oil.

The large-scale marketing of heaven and hell as destinations for the afterlife was done by the religions of the world to bring control in society. When they did not know how to control individuals or groups of people, they came up with an idea, ‘Okay, if we cannot punish you now, we will get you there. And for all the goodness that you show, if we are not able to reward you here, we will reward you there.’ Or if you were miserable, they said, ‘Aiyyo, don’t worry, when you go there, everything will be okay.’ They provided solace. If someone is in a deep state of suffering, you say, ‘Don’t worry, when you go and sit in God’s lap, everything will be okay.’ It is a psychological tool. It is fine when people are in extreme states. But don’t brand it and sell it everywhere, because it is not going to work like that. If it is a psychologist saying these things, it is okay. But if you really make them believe everything is going to be better somewhere, you will only mess up life here.

Now, slowly, heavens are collapsing in people’s minds because if you just ask three questions about it, it will collapse. The human race has come to a point in time where human intellect is firing like never before. More people can think for themselves today than ever before in the history of humanity. Once human intellect becomes active, inevitably, it will ask questions. I think in the next twenty-five years, in a maximum of forty years, the scriptures and heavens will collapse completely. It is already collapsing in many ways in individual minds. Still, people don’t have the courage to voice it or it is not articulated in their mind yet, but it is collapsing. Today, the grip of heaven and hell upon people has all but worn out. Compared to the number of people who believed that they would go to heaven in the previous generation, the number of people who believe they could go to heaven in this generation has fallen very drastically. Everywhere in the world, that hope is collapsing, and in the coming few decades it will collapse even more rapidly. This has many consequences for the world.

Human beings seek heaven basically because they seek pleasantness. If right from your childhood you were told that God lives in heaven but it is a horrendous place, you would not want to go there. You would say, ‘No, I will pray from here itself, but I don’t want to go there.’ So, essentially, a human being seeks pleasantness in their experience—physically, mentally and emotionally. He or she wants the very life process and surroundings to be pleasant. If these things happen, are we fulfilled? No, it is just that if you have learned to be pleasant, only then you can explore the different dimensions of life. If you are in different states of unpleasantness, your whole life will go in just seeking happiness. People are just wasting their whole life to achieve something called happiness. Actually, it is not even happiness; they have given up that too. They just want peace of mind today. This is the highest goal in their life.

So once heaven collapses in people’s minds, people will try to maximize their life here. The initial maximization happens with greed and desire. But when people get frustrated and realize that having more does not make life more in any sense, they want to have the alternatives right here in a big way. They are getting drunk and drugged right here. This is not about looking at it morally. It is about the kind of damage it causes to human intelligence and human consciousness. Health, of course, is a concern, but if someone does not mind dying a few years younger, I have no problems. But the damage these chemicals cause to human possibility is our problem. When this happens to 90 per cent of the human population, the next generation that we produce will be of much lesser quality than what we are. That is a crime against humanity because the whole movement of life is such that it should get better and better.

Once the real damage has happened, at that point, trying to turn people around is not going to work. You cannot advise someone who is on chemicals. Try counselling a drunkard or a drug addict or someone who is on continuous prescription medication—you will understand what I am saying. You cannot turn them around just like that, because that is the nature of chemicals. It makes you feel enhanced either in terms of health, peace, joy, ecstasy or whatever. Because it makes you feel enhanced artificially, there is no way people will come off that.

So before everyone becomes a drunkard or a drug addict, it is important that the raising of consciousness happens and we are able to teach them how to sit here, totally blissed out and stoned by themselves, without any substance. Otherwise, in the next fifty years, you will see 90 per cent of the human population will be on some kind of chemical.

Existentially, there is a little bit of a basis for the notions of heaven and hell. It is because your life does not end with death; it only takes on many other forms after that. It can take on pleasant forms or it can take on very unpleasant forms depending on many factors. It is these pleasant forms that we refer to as heaven, or Swarga , and the unpleasant forms as Naraka , or hell. As we already
saw earlier,  these are not geographic locations—they are forms taken by the being after the body is dropped. If you go beyond all forms, then we say it is mukti, or Liberation. A spiritual seeker is not interested in going to heaven. They neither want to go to hell nor heaven. They want to go beyond this duality of both hell and heaven.

The first thing that Yoga attacks is heaven and hell. As long as there is heaven and hell, the technology for inner well-being is meaningless. The process of moving towards one’s Liberation is meaningless, since, now, there are two places to go—either you end up in a bad place or a good place. Your whole life becomes focused upon somehow earning a ticket to the good place. You don’t have to bother about how you live. Humanity has lived as grossly as it has, mainly because of the assistance of religion. They preach, ‘It does not matter what you do, if you just believe this, this and this, your ticket to the good place is set.’ So if you do not destroy the heaven and hell that is functioning within you right now, there is really no movement towards truth.

There is a beautiful story in Yogic lore: There was a yogi who was over eighty-four years old and he started going about declaring to other yogis around him, ‘You know, I am going to die and go to heaven shortly.’ This whole thing amused the other yogis. One day, they stopped him and asked, ‘How do you know that you are going to heaven? Do you know what is on God’s mind?’ So the yogi replied, ‘I don’t care what is on God’s mind; I know what is on my mind.’ Yoga gives you the technology to make yourself pleasant whatever the ambience may be. That is all he was trying to say. Both hell and heaven are still part of the duality. What we refer to as Liberation is total dissolution. You neither go here nor there. You don’t go anywhere because you just dissolve. This is why, for a spiritual seeker, neither God nor heaven is the goal—mukti or Liberation is.





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