My mother left her body last November and I’ve been meaning to publish a few posts about it but it’s not really been a priority. While I’ve been able to push these posts to back burners as life kept moving, certain experiences relating to her (and her death) and things that happened afterward have been unavoidable.
I have talked about these experiences with close friends and also with local Sahaj Marg leadership. You see, these experiences kind of made me question some things I thought I knew or understood. Truly, I think I do know and understand – it’s just been made clear to me that there is far more yet to know and understand. Some of that growth and evolution has related directly to my understanding of karma.
I’ve written about karma here before, and if you’re reading this and have a blog of your own, there’s a great chance I’ve commented on your blog about karma. Long ago, when I first learned and was learning about karma my understanding was naturally simplistic. Not unlike the ideas of karma supported by the Hare Krishnas. In that stage of learning, 1 + 1 will always equal 2.
Then I started learning about different kinds of karmas and immense differences between lifetimes lived by the soul. Some karmas created now may not manifest for 27 lifetimes to come. And I now think it’s entirely possible that karmas manifested in one’s current lifetime may actually be from 27 lifetimes in the future – ones we think we’ve yet to live. Surely karma isn’t linear.
So how does this relate to the junk I mentioned about my mother? Well, factly, I don’t believe in ghosts. But something along those lines definitely was experienced a few times soonish after her passing. For sake of brevity and sparing you what are sure to be boring details, I’ll not focus much on the details of those experiences. But at the time I was like, “This CAN’T be the ghost of my mother because surely she’s been swept away by the karmic forces guiding her to her next existence.”
My understanding of karma prior to her moving on held that when you drop your body, “you” keep moving – as governed by the karmic forces generated by yourself in the previous lives. I understood that, for most of us, this process was something we couldn’t well control or have an effect on until we’d taken the next incarnation of life. Then, you could begin working again on your karmas … and so the cycle continues until you at last attain the Source once more, or maybe the Mahapralaya. What have you. This understanding, though, pretty much assumed that – for the most part – the “you” that moved on is one, whole, single entity. I’m no longer convinced of that.
Again, after chatting with close friends and Sahaj prefects, my understanding is evolving. In the same way that I understood karma differently than I do now, I now differently understand the possible composition of the atma / amsha. During a physical existence, there are many aspects and layers to a person, right? We can call them what we like: ego, intellect, emotion, manas, buddhi, ahamkar, personality, persona, … the list can include just about any human component you want it to include, and throughout human history, depending on who you might have asked, this list will vary significantly. I think it’s possible that sometimes, even within these layers, other layers are found. I also think it’s true that each layer or sublayer, to its own degree, has its own existence within Maya and also its own share in your overall karmic package.
It seems possible, likely, and even probable to me that the experiences I had after my mother’s passing are NOT what we typically call a ghost, but ARE parts of her lingering or visiting me. It makes sense to me that, especially in the context of talking about someone who is the kind of person my mother was, upon death bits and pieces of us go whirling off guided by pertinent karmas. Maybe part or parts of this multi-layer human soul-whirlwind are guided to check on us after they are released from the human body that housed them. Maybe sometimes these bits and pieces are what torture us as “ghosts” and seem to be caught in some kind of time loop or location, but seem never to amount to anything more than that. I don’t know, really. I just know there’s more to understand and more to probably write about.
We’re now only a couple weeks away from her six-month death anniversary and around that time I’ll be meeting with my family to bury some of her cremated remains near where her father’s body is resting and where my family retains a number of burial plots. As of today, the visitations are no longer happening – or at least haven’t happened in a while. Is it possible that the karmas that were allowing a part of her to linger with me have been exhausted and she’s beginning to re-collect into a new life? These are big questions.
There’s one last thing I want to bring up. Yoga. Cosmic union, right? From the Sahaj Marg standpoint, yoga also means integration. Human integration. From the broader Hindu picture, I can see more and more clearly what yoga really means. We often speak of Yoga as union with Source. Returning to Home. And it means that, surely. But I also understand now, that a big part of what makes that return even possible is integration on the human level. At some point along the way, you have to begin integrating your various pieces as a human – real integration and balance maintained. When this has been achieved, there’s no concern about a layer of yourself hanging about or wandering off with its own karmic luggage. You literally pull yourself together through the yogic practices taught by our teachers, achieve integration (yoga on a human level), and then taste Yoga as a return to Source.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti