What Can We Learn from the Dying?
For 44 years Bhairav Nath Shukla has been the manager of a guesthouse in India where people check in to die.
He has seen the rich and the poor take refuge in this guesthouse as they await death and hope to find peace.
In a recent article, he shares 12 of his recurring life lessons from the 12,000 deaths he has witnessed.
Here is a summary of his thoughts:
1. Resolve all conflicts before you go:
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,
2. Simplicity is the truth of life
A simple life, as he explains, can be attained by spending less.
We spend more to accumulate more and thus create more need.
To find contentment in less is the secret to having more.
3. Filter out people’s bad traits
Shukla maintains that every person has shades of good and bad.
But instead of dismissing “bad” people outrightly, we must seek out their good qualities.
4. Be willing to seek help from others
To know and do everything by yourself might feel empowering but it limits one from absorbing what others have learnt.
Every person in the world knows more than us in some respect. And their knowledge can help us, only if we’re open to it.
5. Find beauty in simple things
People who are too critical or too proud, are the ones who find it hard to find joy in small things because their minds are preoccupied with “seemingly” more important things.
6. Acceptance is liberation
Most people shirk away from accepting what they are going through.
This constant denial breeds in them emotions that are highly dangerous.
Only once you accept your situation is when you become free to decide what to do about it. Without acceptance you are always in the grey space.
When you are not in denial of a problem you have the strength to find a solution.
7. Accepting everyone as the same makes service easier
The day you treat everyone the same is the day you breathe light and worry less about who might feel offended or not.
8. If/When you find your purpose, do something about it
A lot of people, Shukla says, know their purpose but don’t do anything about realising it, making it come to life.
Simply sitting on it is worse than not having a calling in the first place.
Having a perspective towards your purpose will help you measure the time and effort you need to dedicate to it, while you’re caught up in what you think you can’t let go or escape.
Take action on what truly matters.
9. Habits become values
Shukla recommends cultivating good habits to be able to house good values.
And building good habits happens over time, with practice. “It’s like building a muscle; you have to keep at it everyday.”
10. Choose what you want to learn
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.
You can seldom distance yourself from people you have truly loved or connected with in some way.
However, in any relationship, along the way, certain mismatch of ideologies causes people to stop communicating.
This never means you are no longer associated with that person.
It simply means that you don’t associate with a dominant thought that person brings with him/her, and to avoid more conflict you move away.
The divorce, Shukla affirms, is with the thought and never with the person.
To understand that is to unburden yourself from being bitter and revengeful.
12. 10 percent of what you earn should be kept aside for dharma
A simple calculation according to Shukla is to keep 10 percent of your income for goodwill.
Many people donate or do charitable acts towards the end of their life because death is hard on them.
In their suffering, they begin to empathise with others’ suffering.
He says those who have the companionship of loved ones, the blessings of unknown strangers, and an all-encompassing goodwill of people exit peacefully and gracefully.
That is possible when you don’t cling on to everything you have, and leave some part of it for others.
Read more here: 12 Life Lessons from a Man Who’s Seen 12000 Deaths
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