Yama and I sat in the cemetery overlooking the ocean, a golf course on three sides. On this sunny, cool day the links were filled with people hitting little balls into holes, no doubt ignoring the mortality reminders a chip away, while the murder of crows in the cypress trees that provided shade for the graves, cawed for the golfers’ attention.
DISCIPLE: It has been a long time since our last discussion about the more non-dualistic interpretation of the Ten Commandments.
YAMA: Has it? Do not your dreams jump from scene to scene, with what seems like much time between them, all of which happens within a few breaths of “real” time?
DISCIPLE: Yes, that’s true.
YAMA: So it is with me. Our last conversation was just a moment ago, since I am not bound by time, and thus do not use it as a reference of who I am. My reference point is with the Eternal so I am not defined by what I do, even though my role is death.
DISCIPLE: Well that brings us to the Sixth Commandment: Thou shall not kill. As death, are you not the greatest offender of this rule?
YAMA: I guess I am; but then so must God be, for my power comes from Her. However, can God kill anything since all things abide in God and God in all things? Right here is the whole rub because when we get to the Essential, which is God, that there is only One. Yet it takes two to have the play of killer and slain.
This is what Krishna said to the warrior Arjuna who didn’t want to fight his kinsmen. Krishna reminded him that the Eternal Self cannot kill or be slain, and that everybody is just passing phenomena being consumed by time under the control of God.
Really the commandment should say: Thou cannot kill.
DISCIPLE: Ok, what you say I understand to mean that finite occurrences do not affect the Infinite Source, no more than my throwing a pebble in the ocean can disturb the depths.
YAMA: Well put.
DISCIPLE: Yet it does say, ‘shall not kill,’ as an injunction for right living in accord with God’s will. What does it mean? Surely it doesn’t mean that humans should not kill one another because immediately after giving the commandments to Moses, Jehovah has Moses put to death thousands of idol worshipers.
I am confused.
YAMA: Such is the problem when one lives according to the words of another, because everyone comes to words with subjective interpretations. All teachings will appear to have contradictions because no matter how holy they are they basically are nothing more than ripples on the ocean. Words are expressed in time and Truth is Eternal and the two can never meet.
Some will say it means to kill no human being, that one should prefer to die than to kill. Others might say it means to kill nothing at all, if at all possible—which I assure you it is not. Others talk about just wars, and say it is legitimate to kill when defending one’s home or country. And then there is the eye for an eye permission.
Which interpretation is right? Which one wrong? When one realizes that there is no other, no thing or person out there to be feared, that the Self is only One, one will act in harmony with the Whole. In such a case, then one may be the instrument of helping a finite form change as it inevitably will, just as the surgeon removes a tumor or the general defeats the invaders, the butcher prepares the cow for a feast. Some may even feel that by self immolation they can kill the flames of war.
DISCIPLE: So you are saying that there really is no absolute to this rule?
YAMA: Yes, except only that you can’t kill. Jesus knew this very well when he asked God’s forgiveness for those who knew not what they were doing, because their ignorance saw them killing Jesus. But how can the Eternal Son of God be killed? Of course God forgave them because His Son never died.
DISCIPLE: Here we sit in a graveyard. Is there any point to such a place if nobody dies?
|Graveyard in Scotland, Janaka Stagnaro|
YAMA: Such memorials are at best good reminders that bodies eventually drop away, to help people wake up to their nature and to remind them not to become attached to anything or anyone, for all things pass away. Cemeteries can indeed be a good place to meditate for those reasons. However, as a place to dwell on the memories of those who passed, it can keep people’s minds stuck in time. Really, people should have memorials for clothes they can no longer fit into, it makes about as much sense, for the body is but a garment. Besides, people put too much emphasis on memories, thinking that they are what makes them who they are. Memories are simply thoughts, and one’s Self rests quietly beyond them.
With that last thought in mind we watched the crows silently before closing my eyes, eliminating everything that I call mine from me: my family, my things, my work, my body, my personality, my feelings, my thoughts…until no thing was left. And only Silence remained.
-- The Teachings of Yama: A Conversation with Death, Addendum I