Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
August 2007

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

Even though I’m not quite old enough to get a discount at the movies, I have been feeling the pleasure of advancing age. In our youth dominated culture, age is not considered pleasurable. But it is.

The accumulating years allow one to see life in longer rhythms, to stand aside from fads and fashions, to remain calm in the face of ever-changing, but never-changing world events.

I’m not talking about tuning out, or finding so-called happiness, as some older people do, by reducing one’s world to something small and manageable. Quite the opposite. 

Time Passes
I accepted the truth of reincarnation before I was twenty. Still, at that age, it seemed as if this life would go on forever. So the idea of another one was just a dim theoretical prospect.

Although I am hardly now tottering on the edge of the grave, forty years later I see how quickly an incarnation flies by.

In Reader’s Digest I read this charming exchange between an elderly resident of a nursing home, and a kindergarten child who was visiting her. Looking intently at the wizened form in the wheelchair in front of her, the child asked, “How old are you?”

The elderly lady replied, “Ninety-two years old.”

Incredulously, the child asked, “Did you start at one?”

Don’t Forget
A friend of mine had an unhappy childhood. Not tragic, just unhappy. She had no conscious idea of reincarnation, but at the age of ten she told herself, “Don’t forget:  Childhood is not all it is cracked up to be!”

Now she understands that even at that age she was remembering an important practice of Gyana Yoga called “neti neti.” Literally, this means, “Not this. Not this.” This practice helps you discriminate between what is Eternal and what is just the passing show.

Looking at it superficially, you might think “neti neti” would make one cynical and uninvolved in life. Quite the opposite. Through this practice you learn always to see the unchanging bliss of spirit behind everything in life. One is able, then, to embrace life wholeheartedly, fearlessly, in fact, as a constant experience of God.

“Neti neti” is less difficult to practice now than it was when I was younger. Pleasures and tragedies have come and gone in sufficient numbers that I am aware at the beginning of the inevitable end of any merely outward experience.

Next Time Around
My concern now is that my hard-won peace (to the extent that I have it) is only the result of living long enough in this body to have gain a little perspective. When I am a child again will all of this be lost in the youthful enthusiasm of the moment?

To insure that whatever small realization I have gained stays with me when I shed this body and, presumably, assume another, I often affirm my detachment from the passing show and my commitment to the presence of God within.

In the way my friend did as a child, I say, “Don’t forget. Don’t get confused when the scene changes. Hold on to what you know.”

Finished and Unfinished Karma
I asked Swamiji about this. The question was, how much of what I feel is the result of age and how much is true realization? His answer was broader than my question.

“Longing and resentment,” he said, “those are the attitudes that bind you to delusion.”

To long for something (other than God) is to believe fulfillment will come to you in that way. To resent something is to believe life is unfair. These are signs of unfinished karma that will draw you back to this world and enmesh you in delusion again and again.

Yes, life does appear to be unfair. Horridly unfair at times. But that is because our perspective is limited. Our human memory rarely extends beyond this incarnation.

Our soul, however, is omnipresent. Our consciousness is a thread stretching backwards and forwards in eternity. This incarnation is but a tiny point on an infinite tapestry. The more we live in the vastness of the whole, the more joy and freedom we will feel in the present moment.

This is the realization that comes with the passing years, and with the passing incarnations.

Take care of the minutes, Master said, and the incarnations will take care of themselves.

Blessings and joy,
Asha