Life, Death and Somewhere In Between 生命和死亡之间
Once, I met a very nice gentleman from the Middle East. As part of my job responsibility, I looked up his photograph and background information from the Guest Profile records. Within a glance, I exclaimed to myself, “What a kind looking man!” His wise, smiling eyes were gleaming from the photograph, so full of life and passion. He had an inner vibrancy – quiet and mesmerizing, the softness of his smile suggests a joyful, contended man, flanked by his wife.
When we met, the firm and steady grip from both our handshakes confirmed my first impression of him. Here is such a nice, kind soul indeed. I knew that I would enjoy very much working with this gentleman.
I told him my initial reaction upon looking at his photograph, whereby he laughed and thanked me heartily. His smiling eyes now becoming even alive right before my eyes.
We introduced ourselves briefly, and he elaborated more on himself as to give me an idea of how I could help him achieve his goals.
When I asked how he was feeling today, he exclaimed, “Wonderful!!” as we walked past a beautiful garden, greeted by the warmth of the sunshine and the wondrous nature around us.
When I asked if he has any goals for our session together, he replied, “My goal is “to be happy!”. We laughed heartily together, bonding even more instantly.
He continued to tell me more about his life, family, work, health and what he experienced lately. Being a man who held enormous power and influence, he told me of his direct contact with the Prime Minister of his country. His job required him to put people in jail, to take away their freedom, to potentially destroy their lives; often he had to offer and sometimes being forced to take bribes, getting very much involved in matters against the law. He had strict orders to follow, he had no choice but to do whatever it takes to get the expected results. Unfortunately this was all part of his job, his responsibilities.
I listened attentively, at times my heart skipping a few beats as I hold onto his every word. I found myself naturally empathizing with this stranger and actually feeling his pain and suffering.
He looked straight into my eyes as he began another chapter of his story, his eyes now seemingly twice as wide as before. Yet I felt very calm and more present than before, anticipating the next words he is about to say.
Then he told me the day he died. He actually died and left this world, albeit momentarily. While his body lied on the operating table at the hospital, his soul went into space. He saw many long, hallow, luminous, silvery-grey tubes frantically twirling and spinning at the speed of light in vast space, in the universe. Somehow he knew that these mysterious tubes were souls, they were beings.
The moment he realized this, he began to see and feel his own soul. His body no longer exists, he too was one of these long, hallow, luminous, silvery-grey tubes. He was pure energy. His being, his very essence captured in this magnificent (vaguely) serpent-like creature. Yet somehow, at the same time, it seems formless, powered by such raw energy and intense strength.
He saw and felt his own soul hurling itself at full force in the darkness of the universe. As if put onto an auto-pilot mode, he could only surrender and allowed this new found raw energy and power to drive him. He had no clue what and why this is happening, and where he was heading. He was surrounded by so many other souls twirling, spiraling fiercely in all directions, coming from all angles. At times they zoomed by, as if setting the night ablaze with torches of blinding light; like fireworks exploding into space, a magnificent sight to behold indeed. It was pure, raw, intoxicating energy. The atmosphere super-charged and breathtakingly intense.
Deprived of a sense of time, he couldn’t tell how brief or how long he remained in space. Out of the blue, he suddenly realized he doesn’t belong here! He could just barely hear the faint call of Allah in the distance, telling him he needs to “go back, go home”. Filled with extreme gratitude, fear, joy, doubt and anxiety all at once, he wondered just how could he go home?
Then suddenly, with an intense jolt of raw electricity, he felt his soul jolted back into his body on the operating table! Never before has he ever such an intense experience!
He could feel his entire body – arms, legs, head… He could hear his heartbeat and feel his breath. He could feel the familiarity of gravity pulling his weight downwards, sensing the heaviness of his flesh and bones. He could feel warmth on his skin, the taste in his mouth, hearing muffled voices in the background, smelling the antiseptic air around him. He was overjoyed to be able to experience all these sensations once again.
He had an out of body experience and now he came back into his body, literally.
He remained stunned speechless for quite some time, just barely able to move. As he gradually regained consciousness, the doctor told him that he had indeed, died. They indeed lost him for a few moments (how long actually I can’t recall clearly) during the operation. He was in fact proven “clinically dead”. The doctor and his team continued trying their best to revive him, to fight for precious life, but to no avail. The heart monitor continued to display a flat pulse line despite their best efforts. They were about to drop all hopes and began to accept that he didn’t make it. And suddenly he just came back! The doctor and his team declared him a bonafide ‘miracle’!
As it was, this operation was a high-risk event. After much solemn discussions, the decision to go ahead with the operation was made. Nevertheless it was still a calculated risk, still worth trying in order to help his heart function better. However, no one knew for sure what the outcome may be.
He told me of this deep, immense gratitude inside him after this traumatic experience – pure humility and thankfulness. His heart was pouring with pure love and gratitude. Extremely grateful to be alive, he felt so privileged to have been given a second chance to live again. He was given a serious wake-up call to realize how wrong and unbalanced his life was. Now he can begin fresh, make positive changes and start a clean, new life. He praised Allah for His divine guidance, protection and blessings. He vowed to never repeat being the man that he once was before. He vowed to never make the same mistakes again. He promised himself he will never take anyone and anything for granted again. He will diligently clear all the traces of deceit, tension, hatred, frustration, anger, force, violence, hostility and negativity remaining in him, slowly but surely. He will try his best to make peace with everyone, amend things that went wrong with good intentions and a pure heart.
From that day onwards, he made a promise to himself that he will now focus on being happy. He realized that by being happy, everyone around him can be happy too, and everything will work itself out somehow. I told him how true this is, as with my own realization, how I can totally relate to this statement. How wonderful it is indeed when we meet another soul who shares the same sentiments, to resonate with our thoughts and views.
Being happy is perhaps another way of being true to ourselves. If we deny who we are by ignoring, judging, resisting what we think and feel, we are in fact depriving ourselves to live. We can only function well when in a harmonious surrounding. How can there be harmony when there is endless conflict? Conflict holds much negative energy that can disrupt our inner balance physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Conflicts within ourselves not only poison us from within, eventually it will leak outwards and poison the people around us, our surroundings – surely it is not the way to live?
Another way of interpreting this is that we should be responsible. It is actually of the highest priority, a non-negotiable responsibility to stay true to ourselves and be happy; whereby we are able to create a harmonious energy exchange with everyone we meet, everywhere we go. Easier said than done, of course, but having at least the right intentions helps. This is the first step of making a positive change – to decide how we want to be, to live a good life. A wise man once said, “To be happy, live a good life.”
Therefore, it is an outmost priority to be responsible for our own happiness, to stay true to ourselves, to live a life of integrity. A person who is true to himself or herself is naturally a happy person. Consider this: if one more person in this world is happier, imagine how much less conflict, anger, violence, negativity, hostility can be minimized, and how much more peace, love, understanding, joy we will gain.
I saw the tears welled up behind his now soulful-looking eyes, and my reflex senses imitated his mood. My hands naturally reached out to gently rest on his folded knees (we were sitting cross-legged on the floor). We smiled as we felt each other’s pulse through the warmth of our skin. It was comforting, peaceful, loving, grounding. It never fails to strike me in awe – how a powerful bond can emerge from such a simple gesture, with just a look or one word. Something so simple and sacred, when two hearts completely open and connect to each other, where there is just pure compassion flowing between them. Even though we are perfect strangers to each other, somehow we feel as if we have known one another for an eternity. Perhaps, indeed we had some strong bonds or relation in previous lifetimes. Who knows?
Time flew right by us. We chased the limited time we had left and kept the session very simple: learning to be in the body instead of the mind via basic breath awareness, and easy breathing techniques (Pranayama). Ever the sincere and keen student, he tried his best to follow, to stay present, and be mindful of his thoughts and actions.
As our session came to an end, we did a simple chant of ‘Om‘ together. His deep, grounding voice merged with my higher, soulful tone as we chanted, like two rivers merging at the sea. The healing vibrations continued to tingle through my spine, I feel so alive, so humbled. As we gave thanks to each other in Namaste, I specially thanked this man for sharing his stories and life experience with me.
Although he was meant to learn Yoga from me, I felt he was the teacher of this session instead. Within such a short space of time, he shared his amazing journey in life, beyond life and afterwards. He showed me what humility is. He showed me what does it mean to be grateful and sincere. In him, I saw what faith, strength and courage looked like. I saw the beauty of a determined person’s will. I know he will continue to have beautiful days ahead. Bless you, dear soul and as they say in Islam, “In Syallah!”
The next time I met this man is the day Yoga saved his life. This essay will come soon ….
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