This information is excerpted from the book “Dying into Life: The Yoga of Death, Loss and Transformation” by Dr. Jivan Joti Kaur Khalsa
Negative karma creates hell on earth (and beyond). As dharma burns bad karma, heaven or liberation can be experienced while alive (and beyond).
On the Sikh Path, there is a beautiful concept called Jiwan Mukht. “Jiwan” means life, “Mukht” means free or liberated. We can achieve Jiwan-Mukht, liberation while yet alive.
The first aspect—freedom, wisdom and the experience of God or the Infinite Self can be realized while we are still alive. It is not the physical body, but the mind that creates a separation from God, that constitutes human bondage and agony (hell on earth). Our imperfection and suffering in this world is due to our ignorance of our own true nature, our Divine nature.
When we are in the most anguish, we have forgotten in the core of our being that we are a piece in the mosaic of all Creation. We disengage from what gives us life and sustenance, that loving, ever present energy which will never abandon us. Realizing our relationship to our Infinite consciousness or God and experiencing the true nature of the self alleviates this suffering, bringing heaven to earth.
Remembering or not remembering our connection to the Source will have a profound impact on our consciousness. This brings us to the second aspect of Jiwan-Mukht. The consciousness in which we live will follow us to death and beyond.
In other words, if we are living an honorable, fearless, joyous, God-conscious life on earth, we will carry that state with us when we die. If we are fearful, guilt-ridden or angry, we will bring that state with us to death. The consciousness in which we live is the same in which we die.
Fear binds us to our senses, passions and ego — finite shackles, which unfortunately are all too familiar to us, because we can feel them. They somehow remind us that we are alive. The down side is that as they are ego based, propelled by our smallness, they thus create pain . . . instead of spirit based, propelled by our greatness, and creating expansion.
Some of our greatest failures in life are the result of our expectations or illusions of what we desire, perhaps originating from a childhood fantasy or our parent’s unfulfilled dreams. These attachments thwart our opportunities —like being confined in a box with no openings — we can’t see beyond our self-imposed prison.
Conversely, living fearlessly means surrendering to what is. It allows us to flow with the creativity of the Master Planner, expanding us to limitless possibilities (heaven).
Living fearlessly does not mean that there is a negation of the mind, our will and the senses; in fact, we can develop them to be functioning in an acute state of awareness, while maintaining equilibrium and harmony — thus aiding fearlessness.
Through a daily spiritual practice, our negative ego and passions can be transcended into our true nature, orchestrated by a finely tuned intuition, ending our seemingly endless karma of pain and suffering. We will be living fearlessly . . . and thus joyously —we will become deathless.
When living from our ego consciousness, instead of our God consciousness, most of the time our energy is constantly fluctuating, rising and falling between heaven and hell. Satisfying our desires, we think we are in heaven. Blocked from gratification, we drop into hell. We don’t realize that hell is resistance . . . struggle, while heaven is acceptance . . . surrender.
Hell is the tense jaw of “Me-ness.” Heaven is the expanded “We-ness” of the heart, when we dare to reach out and unconditionally love. Forgiveness is a key to happiness (heaven on earth). Without it we will be in an unending spiral of pain and living hell. Seeing the God in all — seeing God in each other and ourselves —forgiveness will prevail. We will be able to forgive others and ourselves.
The third aspect of Jiwan-Mukht is that life is not today and death tomorrow. Both exist right now. We can either say “yes” or “no” to life. Each of us must ask the question, am I living or am I dying? We can say “no” to life, allowing a part of us to wither away and die. Or we can say “yes,” allowing life to expand us.
Saying yes to life means taking risks. It means daring to try something new, to be different . . . Saying “yes” to life also means allowing parts of us to die. It means letting go of old or negative habits, ideas and thoughts, which may not serve us any longer. They may have served a previous purpose, which is no longer part of our reality. Let them go, let them die.
When we are able to do this, a vacuum is created, making room for the birth of new ideas and habits, which may be more appropriate to our present situation.
Each day is a new beginning, a rebirth, and each night is a closing or release. In this way, life can be an exciting journey, taking in and letting go, living it to the fullest, until our very last breath. All of life becomes a natural flow of life and death.
The fourth aspect of Jiwan-Mukht relates to serving. As God Conscious beings, we are in the world. Historically, yogis and holy men spent their lives meditating in caves, isolating themselves from the rest of society. In this era, we can be ascetic within and secular without.
We are like the lotus flower, with its roots in the mud and its flower floating on the water, untouched by the dirt. Whether we are a street sweeper or a brain surgeon, we can do everything with a consciousness of service.
An ingredient of our lifetime pursuit can include sharing our spiritual knowledge for the good of all. The light is too vast to keep contained; the Aquarian Age is requesting that we share it with everyone.
The fifth and last aspect of Jiwan-Mukht has to do with our preparation for death. We prepare for death by how we live. The quality of our life will depend upon our understanding and preparation for death. If a person does not understand death, he does not understand life. If a human fears death, he fears life.
The American Indians developed an extraordinary technique to prepare for death by using a death chant. It was used to maintain contact with the Great Spirit in times of threat or stress, such as when riding a runaway horse, confronted by a dangerous animal or when injured or ill. Immediately, the death chant came into their mind. It became a part of them, always available in a time of need. It created a familiarity with the unfamiliar — death.
In the Hindu tradition, there is another instance of this kind of presence of life/death. It is taught and practiced that to die with God’s name on your lips is a way of consciously returning to the Source. In an instant, one can drop the mind’s projection of the world and just be one with God.
In Kundalini Yoga, we use special mantras, called Pran Sutras, or “master keys” for this purpose. They are to be used in life and become such a habit that at the time of death, one automatically chants it.
When a car cuts in front of us, almost causing an accident, are we cursing the other driver or can we automatically begin our pran sutra? When we are lying in bed in pain, can we focus on our Long Deep Breathing with the mantra Sat Nam, or are we fearful and angry? When one of our children is asserting his or her identity apart from us, are we angry and threatened or can we see it as a natural sequence of growth and expansion?
It is an attitude about life, which becomes such a habit, that we automatically switch to at the time of death. We have to find our Jiwan-Mukht, spiritual connection, now. Waiting until death will be too late. It has to be cultivated and practiced during life, to improve the quality of our life and the quality of our death.
Dying into Life: The Yoga of Death, Loss and Transformation: Second Edition – Coming Soon!
Death and loss are universal experiences, which we all experience in our lives. The experience of death and loss are never convenient, and everyone responds to them differently. For some, death is an ending, a tragedy, a wall of sorts; for others, it is a beginning, a door or an opportunity for tremendous personal growth and transformation. With training, we can prepare ourselves to view and respond to these transitions with more grace and inner serenity. We can also help others in their own transformative journey. Dying into Life book and course will give you such a training.