Recently, I have been listening to a lot of Alan Watts (thanks to elephant journal).
I have never been so intrigued by such a man, who seems to explain the truth in such a literal and realistic sense that can be understood by most. He leaves a lot for contemplation about life and death, however.
Like most, I have a fear of dying, despite my recent yoga teacher training—the philosophy and truth of yoga reminds me that such a fear is not necessary. One of my ashtanga teachers said, “Yoga is the practice that prepares you to die.” Such strong words left me pondering death all day.
After a night of listening to Alan Watts’ What Happens After We Die on YouTube, I instantly understood that death and rebirth is obvious, and as such should absolutely not be feared whatsoever. This feeling of knowing was new and a little scary, though in a way easily understood.
For many people, especially yogis, there is a belief in reincarnation and of course, that we are all one. Karma, our samsaras, and our souls will carry on to the next life. Even though this is all fine and well, I am, like most, frightened by the thought that when we die everything we’ve ever known turns into dark, black nothingness.
Even though I transfer and move toward a different life, my vision and memories are lost forever.
In the video, Watts corrects this for me by asking, “Why would we want to hold on to those memories anyway?” His response struck a chord with me—it makes perfect sense that letting go of our regrets, negative karma, family and loved ones paves the way for a new life altogether.
As we leave this life, a new one begins. This will never cease, and we are all intertwined.
Realizing this, I wanted to express the importance of surrendering. The beautiful act of surrendering is in my eyes is one if the key elements in life. Such as a flower blooming in spring or a baby bird flying to its mother—this is the natural progression of things. The flower knows nothing but to bloom and the baby bird’s intuitive instinct to surrender to his mother is ever present.
Our lives are no different—when the time comes we must remember that what awaits after this life is the truth to the essence of all existence.
My western upbringing has made me ripe for information and has heightened the desire to grasp the meaning of experiences—I want to understand complex ideas. As I was walking to work in downtown, I stopped at the crosswalk as others proceeded to cross the street.
That’s when it hit me. I looked around and saw people on their phones, some tapping their feet to in impatience and a handful with a smile on their face, simply waiting for the light to turn green. It struck me that death is inevitable—such a simple and natural transition, just like crossing the street.
Once we cross we are on the other side of the street, proceeding on our path—life goes on.
But just as some of those with me on that street were distracted, we too can forget the importance of surrendering to the inevitable. If we are occupied all of our life, hiding behind our phones, we won’t have the awareness when death is showing us the truth. Similarly, if we are impatient and frustrated when death is upon us, we may miss out on what that beautiful transition has to offer.
So I urge all of us—we must be the person who is standing at the crosswalk with a smile on our face waiting for the light to turn green. We must surrender to our soul and to our mind during meditation. We must surrender, and not continue an argument—surrender to the world and breathe in all it has to offer.
When our time comes we will be ready and excited to see what the universe and the grace of God has in store for us.
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Apprentice Editor: Melissa Horton/ Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: YouTube, Alan Watts