Yama! I caught my breath. It has come to this. I now face death, I said to myself. I felt both fear and awe.
She smiled and said, “Because you sought to know about another and were willing to listen, unlike the multitude too busy thinking of only themselves, I will give you another boon.”
I saluted with folded hands to the one who is named Yama.
“Please, Revered One, you who draw nearer with every blink of one’s eye, tell me of your child and why you weep.”
“My child, throughout these thousands of darkened years, in the age called Kali, has been trampled by ignorant, hard-hearted men. They have enslaved her and have worked her lifeless. Their hearts empty of gratitude.
“By the fruits of their greed they have defecated upon her, and by their lust for power have drowned her in their own blood.
“And throughout this torment my daughter has given her all, never holding back.
“My child is the Earth itself.”
Suddenly, the rotting head Yama held transformed into a miniature blue-jeweled sphere of the Earth. Then the Earth vanished, and with it the stench disappeared.
“Because you asked about my child who is dear to me and asked not to remove the stench for your own sake, ask of me another favor.”
“Please, you who lead every youth onward, tell me how I may help your child,” I asked, bowing once more.
“Very well, I will tell you.”
She paused for a moment.
“Be aware. That’s right. Be aware of all that you do, all that you see, feel, taste, smell and hear. See the shadows and how they stretch from stone to stone upon the path you walk. Hear the birds twitter amidst the hum of silence. Feel the warmth of the sun shining on your back and then the coolness of the passing of a cloud. Taste every morsel of food, savoring every spice, and taste the rain the same. Breathe in the smell of the barnyard with the same smile as you would sniffing jasmine.”
I said, “Dear Yama, you who have been since the first movement of time, who knows the time-span of all things, I do not understand how this helps your child. Please elaborate.”
|Renewal, Janaka Stagnaro|
“By being aware, you become awake. By being awake you will not trample ignorantly upon the Earth in your sleep. And by being awake you will become simple; for no longer will you have a myriad dreams to fulfill.”
“Thank you, I understand more clearly. Yet, please explain that since you lead all things to destruction, why the need to help the Earth? It is doomed to perish.”
Death replied, “Many a fool have thought thus, and have lived their lives for the moment, living to satisfy only their desires. Let me explain:
“The Earth is none other than your mother. Every need you have while expressing through a physical human body—a rare opportunity that countless souls desire to have—is given by her. And even as I quickly lead your earthly parents away, still every parent needs to be given gratitude.
“With every breath should rise gratitude. With every morsel of food, every whisper of the wind, every step, every touch of another creature, every sigh, every stab of pain, every beat of your heart, every laugh, every smile of a child, every bottle of wine to accompany a drunkard home.
“With all these and everything that comes, gratitude needs to meet them.
“This brings honor to my child and thus pleases me. And when I smile I do not work so hard.”
--Excerpt from The Teachings of Yama: A Conversation with Death, Chapter 1