“The influence of time, which manifests as past, present and future, cannot touch higher personalities like Brahma and other demigods. Sometimes demigods and great sages who have attained such perfection are called tri-kala jna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.15.3 Purport)
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Wife: Do you ever wonder how people will react when you pass on?
Husband: Why are you asking me this? Is there something wrong with me that I don’t know about? Did you hear from my doctor?
Wife: No, silly. It’s just an interesting question. I’ve been wondering about it since my father passed on.
Husband: Oh, okay. I mean, I know you’ve been itching to get rid of me, but I’m not ready to go just yet. [smiling]
Wife: Will you take this seriously, please?
Husband: Okay, okay. What was the question again?
Wife: I’ve been so sad since my father passed on. I feel kind of empty without him. When I see others react in the same way, it doesn’t give me strength. I’d rather they pretend to not be affected. Then I would know that everything’s going to be okay.
Husband: But it will. Life moves on.
Wife: Yeah, I know you’re right. Still, I wonder what the proper reaction is. Should I continue to be sad? If I carry on as if nothing happened, that might give strength to others who are feeling the loss, but isn’t that also kind of cold?
Husband: Oh, I see. So by trying to understand at the personal level, you’ll get a better idea of what reaction your father would have wanted to his passing?
Wife: Exactly. If I left this world, how would I want people to react? Have you ever thought about this?
Husband: Indeed, I have. I think everyone has to some extent.
Wife: Care to enlighten me on what you came up with?
Husband: Well, obviously I want people to be a little upset. Especially those whom I love so much and would miss so much if they left me – I’d like to think that they would be a little sad if I left this world.
Wife: I agree. I was thinking the same thing.
Husband: But from there I sort of figured it out. Basically, if I was on my deathbed and others asked me how to honor me if they so desired, what would I say to them?
Wife: Okay, that’s a question, though. What would you say to them?
Husband: I’d tell them what my spiritual teachers have told me. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam it is said that a saintly person can see past, present and future. Naturally, this means they foresee that one day they won’t be physically present to guide others.
Husband: And so by their instructions, both in physical interaction and written word, they prepare to leave a lasting impression. What they say to the future generations is what I would want people to follow after I’ve left this world.
Wife: And what do they say?
Husband: Well, before I get to that I would start by telling others that don’t think this won’t happen to you. “I am dying now, and you will too some day.” Honey, I’m sure you’ve thought that a few times since your father passed on. I know I have.
Wife: Yeah, that’s what has kept me sad, actually. Like what am I doing here anyway? If we all have to meet the same end, what is the purpose to life?
Husband: That’s the perfect question. So the rishi in the Vedic tradition will tell the future generations to understand the soul. The soul is who we are. We are not this body. Therefore death is not that big a deal. The soul will live on. It has to. There is no other way.
Wife: That’s comforting to know. I mean, I know this, but it’s nice to hear at a time like this.
Husband: We survive off the love of others. There is no doubt about this. We are all better people because of your father’s love for us. And his parents were very loving also. There is no proper way to repay what they did for us. They continue to influence us in so many ways, ways that we’ll never fully know or appreciate. For myself, I realize that I never would have been introduced to the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam were it not for your father and the respect he commanded. Simply by his praising these books I eventually took an interest, when I was ready to find answers to the most important questions in life.
Wife: He was a very spiritual man.
Husband: We survive on love, even through mother nature. The rain comes from her and it sustains us. The next question is why. Why do people love us enough to keep us alive? The saint of the Vedic tradition says to live to be conscious of God. That is the unique boon to the human birth. From assuming the body of a human being we get the best chance to understand God.
Wife: So the people who love us keep us alive so that we can understand God?
Husband: Exactly. They may not realize it. Another thing to mention is that understanding God is for our greatest benefit. It will make us happy before we pass on. And don’t we want others to be happy after we’re gone? Don’t we want them to realize all that life has to offer? We know that money, fame, sensual pleasures and the like aren’t enough. These don’t satisfy the soul, which will live on past this life.
Wife: So you would tell people to understand God? That’s what you want others to do after you are gone?
Husband: Well, I’d want them to do that while I’m still alive also, but yeah. Miss me a little bit but then focus your attention on the Supreme Lord. And this isn’t so difficult, provided you know some things about Him. In His original form He is Krishna, the all-attractive one. He is also Rama. He is also Narasimha. These personal forms allow for attachment. They allow for interaction, which takes place in the mood of service. This service, known as bhakti-yoga, will bring the most pleasure to the soul. It will bring happiness to anyone who engages in it. I’d tell people to follow bhakti-yoga without fear. Our predecessors foresaw their own passing and the passing of others. They knew what was going to happen. So how they lived their lives is very instructive. They made the most out of their short time on earth, and through their efforts we were benefitted. And isn’t that what we want, people to benefit from our life?
Wife: Yes, definitely. I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful father. I feel that he lives through me and our family. He will never be gone from us.
Husband: God bless such a wonderful man. Let us all be devoted to Krishna in thought, word and deed. He would love that. I know He always encouraged me in my devotional efforts. So by improving myself, by making the most of this precious life, I will pay homage to him. The benefit will come back to him and to all of our ancestors, to whom we owe so much.
To part from this world one day,
What on your dying bed to say?
How your desire for others to live?
What words of wisdom to give?
This situation by the rishis was known,
Through their words right path was shown.
Miss me a little, but in bhakti move on,
With Krishna blessed to be even when I’m gone.
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