Britain has just witnessed a rare moment in history – the death and rebirth of a monarch at the same time. In the unique Dharmic wisdom of India, the science of life begins with an understanding of death. There is acceptance but never denial. The funerals usually happen on the very same day and while the family and friends bid farewell to the body, Dharma claims that the soul is eternal.
How then do we live when we know we are going to die? If we must die, why were we ever born? Even more challenging is the motivation for existence when we know we can die any day. Through Dharma, we endow life with meaning and purpose. That is its eternal wisdom, richer than any palace. Dharma gives us everyday immortality. The choice is ours alone.
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Dharma helps us to learn to come to terms with death, and not fear or avoid it. We discover that meaning comes not from the accumulation of wealth but it’s sharing and circulation. In volunteering and selfless service we often have fleeting experiences of immortality, just as the Queen did when she loved listening and talking to people from all walks of life. She regularly gave honours and rewards to such people, who often see service as the highest honour.
India has sewa hard-wired in its DNA. Service without any expectations of return, completely opposite to the equations of finance. When people migrate from India this tradition helps them build some of the most beautiful temples and communities all over the world, which they openly share. It cushions their risk. Our festivals are resplendent with food, colour and music, and reinvigorate us to serve and nourish all living beings. Both Queen and King have discovered the highest humility in their act of service. It has given them purpose and immortality.
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As we mourn, we learn to accept the reality of death, but also never to forget the wisdom and legacy of our ancestors. Their sacrifices made us who we are today, and our very survival is evidence of their immortality. Whilst the world may look for wealth and glamour as symbols of success, we understand that these are ephemeral and learn to live with materiality, without falling in its grip. We understand the nature and limits of wealth. At our temples, we discover a family much larger than our own, and experience the joy of eternal beauty and sharing. We learn to accept death.
We pray for eternal peace for our departed Queen and long live the King. Aum Shanti.