by Michael Ketterhagen
“Dying is going home. Death is reaching our home.“
--Mary Krahn Ketterhagen
When Mary, my beloved wife and partner on our earthly journey, worked as a hospice nurse and chaplain, she always talked about death as a returning to our “home.” She was referring to the process of letting go of all that we are attached to in this physical world and re-joining God in the world beyond the physical world. During the dying process we learn to let go of our bodily functions. We give up our senses. The house and the car are no longer important to us. We even let go of our desires for food, drink and all that keeps us operating in our daily lives.
That letting go process is what most of us are afraid of. We think this physical life and what we are attached to is us. We think we need it in order to survive. But during the dying process we begin to realize that we don’t need it in order to continue our life. We return to our spiritual home. Dying, for Mary, became a journey to the transcendent reality, although she would not use those terms. Her description would be much more grounded in a deep sense of security and peace. She even would say we are returning to our “communion of saints,” as the Catholic Church describes the spiritual world of loved ones and holy ones.
That is what yoga is for me. Yoga is coming home. It is a true grounding in the Source of my peace and unity with the Divine as I sit in meditation each morning. The Yoga Tradition’s practice of Vishoka Meditation brings me to that place that truly is home. It is a place of peace and harmony, light and joy. The daily work that a yogi does is letting go of ego attachments and aversions, likes and dislikes. Yoga is the daily work of seeing all that I possess as tools on my journey back home, tools that are not really mine but just available for me to use on completing my mission and purpose in this physical sojourn.
The wonderful understanding of life for me is that I don’t need to leave my physical body in order to experience my home. Yoga teaches that this physical world is also our home. It is our home to complete some work or mission, actually God’s work and mission. It is the work of the Divine that only we can do. We have chosen to accept that work in this physical world. It is the work of service to others and commitment to life without attachment and control.
When we experience that life, full of everything that is present to us in the world and are not attached to it, we are living in the paradise that the Creator has made for us. We are returning home without leaving our bodies. We are living a purpose-filled life of peace and joy!
It is wonderful that meditation practice and all its preparations can teach this.
I pray to the divinity in you!