With My Last Breath

As usual, this week’s Dungeon Prompt is one that makes us explore our inner realms. Here are the questions we were asked to address:

Imagine that you were in an accident and you can feel your life fading away.  With your last breaths, what does your mind fly to?  Are you scared? Accepting? Worried for friends or family, work unfinished or some other business?  Does your focus change to the hereafter?  With your final breaths, to what do you cling?

I had an experience about 17 years ago that gave me some sense of what might happen when that time of my life comes.  In December of 1997, I took my yearly trip to Amritapuri, Amma’s ashram in Kerala, India. Half-way between Singapore and India, our plane started shaking. Simultaneously all of the oxygen masks fell from their compartments. As we struggled to put on our masks, the plane started falling, first 15,000 feet, then another 10,000. The entire fall took about a minute. As the plane began to descend, my daughter and I glanced at each other and then we each focused inward. My mantra immediately started flowing freely within me. With the mantra came a great sense of peace.  I had awareness that if I died that day, I could leave the earth without regret. I had no sense of unfinished business. (You can learn more about that experience at A Reason to Believe.)

When I arrived in Amritapuri, I learned that Amma knew our plane was in trouble at the time that it happened. When I went for her darshan (hug) later, she whispered in my ear, “Karuna, BIG Problem.” I believed that the peace I felt as the plane descended was because Amma was with me.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who was also a devotee, died after a long bout with cancer.  She was in a comatose state during the last days of her life.  As she neared the end, she started breathing slower and slower.  I was told she was very peaceful at that time.  At some point, her husband said he felt Amma’s presence in the room so strongly.  Shortly thereafter, my friend simply stopped breathing.

At the memorial service there was a recording of a song recently written by friends of hers.  It’s title was ‘In the Mother’s Arms – Goodbye’.  (Amma means “Mother”.)  I was told that the song had ‘come’ to those musicians in the very moments that my friend passed…

There are many accounts of people seeing a white light right before they die. People who have had near death experiences have reported walking into the white light.  Some have said that Jesus was there to greet them.  My fantasy and hope for my own passing is to see Amma standing in the light with open arms.  I want to walk into that light and go directly into her arms.

Amma's hug
Amma’s hug

I believe that something like this will happen when I die if I l make my spiritual journey the primary focus of my life.  I also believe that a peaceful death is most likely to occur if I continue to live in a way that I am able to leave the world having no unfinished business and no regrets.

May it be so

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Peace, Peace, Peace

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12 thoughts on “With My Last Breath

  1. May it be so….
    I think the more presence and peace i can bring to my life in the moment the greater chance i will have of accessing this as i am dying.
    Making amends, taking responsibility for my part in interactions with others helps me clear my inner space and bring me back to the place of serenity and presence.
    I think of my ‘bucket list’ and the things i want to do, the places i want to visit…. France with my son Gokul, Plum village, Dharamshala …. and as i write this i realize that when i think of these things i experience a sense of scarcity and that i want to experience life as abundance, that this is what i want to embrace as i age and move closer to dying. To be in a place of ‘having’ rather than ‘not having’ and that this an internal giving to myself. So to experience the joy of visiting these places i mentioned… even if i never go there externally.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your reflections. I also think the more peace we bring into our life in the present, the more likely we will be able to access it in our dying,

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  2. It takes some practice to die well. Most people don’t give it as much thought as we naturally do so may be more shocked by it when it happens. We should all be so lucky as to go out with the dignity of higher thoughts not clinging to the world around us when it is time to go..

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    1. I think my answer to your prompt would probably have been very different if I had not had the experience on the plane. I now know that a peaceful death is possible.

      I’m also very aware that my mantra was likely so accessible at that time because I had been saying it a lot in the weeks that preceded the trip. And I was doing other spiritual practices as well. I need to bring those practices much more into my day to day life.

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  3. A peaceful death is my wish as well. And, I like what you said about leaving this world with no unfinished business and no regrets. Sadly, there is unfinished business as well as some regrets that I am struggling with. A beginning is I need clarity; and, the only one capable of clarifying is me. Still a work-in-progress.

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  4. Your words flow with peace and self-awareness, Karuna. I remember that story on the plane and I understand more about the mantra now that I do chant it. My mother is so calmed and falls asleep when I chant my mantra. I do think my answer would be totally different if my children were very young but I am at peace now.

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    1. I’m sure my answer would be different if my children were very young also! I’m so glad your mother is calmed by the mantra! I will send you some other info email when I get a chance.

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  5. It Is believed that if you lead a good and healthy life, the body will prompt the time of your exit from this planet. The terms good and healthy encompasses all one’s mundane concerns and reconciliation thereof, so the exit is stress-free and peaceful.

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