People are both terrified and fascinated by death, it seems. And there’s a good reason for it – death comes with this deep wisdom and insight about life, the life one led and the mistakes that defined it.
And while you may have heard of words of deep wisdom that have come out of people on their deathbeds, there is one man who has seen 12,000 deaths and sensed the weight of this wisdom that comes too late for these people.
As a manager of a guesthouse where people check in to die for 44 years, Bhairav Nath Shukla has seen both the rich and poor taking their final refuge in the guesthouse in hope of finding peace after death.
The guesthouse Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan in Varanasi is one of the three guesthouses in a city which is believed to help people attain ‘the fruit of Kashi’ (‘Kashi Labh’) if they draw their last breath there.
This act will release them from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma. And for this purpose, they travel to these guesthouses from different parts of India and live out their final days there.
Bhairav has witnessed the deaths of these people and now, he shares 12 recurring life lessons from the 12,000 times he met death.
1. Conflicts are there to be resolved
“People carry so much baggage, unnecessarily, all through their life only wanting to drop it at the very end of their journey. The trick lies not in not having conflicts but in resolving them as soon as one can,” says Shukla, recounting hundreds of cases where people did everything in their power to resolve old conflicts before they go.
And in the end, what is life if not a messy and tangled web full of good and bad? Holding on to the negative situations instead of trying to find a way to resolve them and create a stronger bond with those that matter brings only misery.
Don’t avoid people because ‘you can do better.’ The best you can do is try and fix the things that created the conflict. Escaping has never been a hard thing to do, and what seems ‘easy’ usually bears a great burden.
2. Simplicity is the greatest truth of life
“People stop eating indulgent food when they know they are going to go. The understanding that dawns on many people in their final days is that they should’ve lived a simple life. They regret that the most,” says Shukla.
And there is freedom to simplicity that nothing else can achieve. Being happy with what you have and focusing on spontaneous experiences rather than unnecessary things is the greatest thing you can do for yourself.
3. Focus on the good in people
We come with a dual nature, one consisting of both good and bad traits and habits. In truth, nobody is perfect – and nobody can be perfect. If you feel bitter when you think of someone, it’s because you’ve been focusing on the negative sides of that person.
The truth is, you can’t accept the good in someone without accepting the fact that there is also bad in that person. What you decide to focus on, though, is going to dictate the outcome of your relationship with that person.
The real question is, do you need more love and understanding in your life? Because everybody does.
4. Don’t be afraid to seek help from others
There is power in being able to handle everything by yourself, but it ultimately limits us from learning what others have learned. Bhairav believes that while we are bound to help others, we should also never be afraid of asking for help.
In truth, we can’t know everything, and joining forces with someone willing to lend a hand is an experience that both bonds and uplifts. Sometimes using all your assets means trusting someone enough to ask for help.
5. Find beauty in simplicity
People who tend to be too proud or too critical, explains Bhairav, are usually those who can’t find joy in the small things. It’s because their minds are constantly preoccupied with things that ‘seem’ more important.
However, joy comes from simplicity and serenity. And these come from letting your mind simply admire the little things and not go into too much analysis of something that radiates with beauty.
Obsessing your mind into thorough analyses may be beneficial in given situations, but it’s not something you should be doing all the time.
6. Acceptance is liberating
We all have problems, we all experience both favorable and unfavorable situations. However, being in denial of these things only leads to weakness and debilitation. Accepting the situation for what it is, gives you the strength to find a solution to the problem.
Bhairav believes that anxiety comes as a result of indifference, avoidance, and denial of a certain truth. Breeding these in your mind develops a fear of the thing that is their object, and instead of working on a solution, one ends up avoiding it and fearing it.
Acceptance, on the other hand, gives you the necessary power and liberates you from the grip that problem has on you.
7. Treat people as equals
Speaking from a personal experience, Bhairav explains that it would’ve been very difficult for him to do his demanding job if he treated the visitors at the guesthouse differently. “The day you treat everyone the same is the day you breathe light and worry less about who might feel offended or not. Make your job easier,” he says.
8. Don’t ignore your purpose
Not many are blessed with the awareness of one’s calling. And this blessing is only a blessing if you do something about it. Bhairav explains that a lot of people know their purpose but do nothing about it.
And truly, sitting on your purpose without doing nothing is much worse than not having a purpose in the first place. Dedicating yourself to your true calling and measuring out the steps and effort you will need to achieve it is what matters in the end.
9. Habits become values
Bhairav explains that good values come as a result of cultivating good habits. And these good habits need time and practice to become part of one’s core values. “It’s like building a muscle; you have to keep at it every day,” he explains.
Working towards being kind, honest, compassionate, truthful, or just, requires effort and persistence, especially when these qualities are put to the test. In the end, it’s goodness and the good deeds make us feel good about ourselves.
10. Choose what you’ll learn
The world is full of knowledge to offer. In fact, there is so much you can choose from, it’s easy to get lost or confused. “The key lesson here is to be mindful of choosing what you deeply feel will be of value to you,” Bhairav says.
“In the last days of their life, a lot of people can’t speak, walk or communicate with others with as much ease as they could, earlier. So, they turn inwards. And start to remember the things that made their heart sing once, things that they cared to learn more about over the course of their life, which enriches their days now.”
11. You don’t break ties with people – you break ties with the thought they produce
It may seem normal to you that even the best of relationships and the closest of bonds oftentimes end because of some kind of mismatch of ideologies. And while you stop communication with this person because of it, it doesn’t mean that you’re no longer associated with that person.
In fact, the things that connected you are still there, while the only thing that separates you is the thought that is produced in your head when this person is in question. As Bhairav explains, even the divorce is a divorce with the thought and never the person.
Understanding this will unburden you from being bitter and vengeful.
12. Dedicate 10 percent of your earnings to charity
Many people decide to make donations or charitable acts when they are nearing the end of their lives because the thought of death burdens them. In the suffering they’re experiencing, they begin to empathize with the suffering of others.
Bhairav says that the people who have the companionship of loved ones, the blessings of unknown strangers, and an all-encompassing goodwill of people, exit peacefully and gracefully.
Doing good for others and truly feeling the impact you have on their lives and the responsibility that comes with it is something that gives purpose and meaning. This may do little for those you’re helping but planting that seed of a hopeful future in someone’s heart will also plant a seed of the unconditional love in you.
There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing a smile on the face of someone you helped.
Source: Conscious Reminder