Creativity and Spiritual India

Posts tagged “death

Ghostyard

“I won’t leave my body, I told myself, no matter what happens.”

Hi. I’m B.T. Lowry. Welcome to this week’s scene of the week, Ghostyard.

Ghostyard - Tim Green

by Tim Green

 

 

Listen here: 

I won’t leave my body, I told myself, no matter what happens.

A riverbank is a stupid place for a graveyard. The bodies are bound to get washed away over time. People go to the river to get clean, or take their water buffaloes to wash the dust off. It’s meant to be a pure place, and a purifying place. Some worship this river, or use its water to worship other gods. But that same water filters through graves. How can it be pure?

Stupid.

I slowed down as I neared the graveyard, keeping an eye out for the rowdy ghosts, especially him.

On the other hand, maybe it was a good place to bury the dead. I had seen fewer and fewer ghosts there, since I’d come as a kid. Ghosts tend to stick around their bodies, and if their bodies have washed away, the spirits can go on to whatever’s next for them. Another life, usually. I’d known most of the kids in our village when they were old.

That’s why cremation is good: the vessel is gone so the spirit moves on.

Usually. The one I sought tonight was old. Old and tricky.

I won’t let him fool me.

I looked carefully at the gravestones, taking in all the details. The crack there above the old woman’s name. I’d known her. Only dried flowers there now, a garland of red, yellow, orange, red, yellow, orange. If that old ghost made an illusion, he’d have to get every detail right to fool me.

He lives here. He knows the details better than me.

Never mind that. I’d just come to talk with him, ask him why he’d been causing trouble.

Was there a purple flower in that garland?

 

***

 

In India, ghost-knowledge is much more comprehensive than in the West (except the movie Ghostbusters, of course). Growing up in Canada, I sometimes wondered if ghosts existed. A glimpse of one, or word that someone had had even the remotest experience of one, was cause for gossip and fear among us kids. But in India they are categorized in many ways, largely according to the life they had while in a physical body.

If someone performs spiritual practices but also nefarious acts, for example they might become a powerful ghost. Those were often the worst kind. Sometimes whole families or even villages might be ghosts together, having been ripped out of their old lives all together by some violent event. There are ghosts fixed in trees, those who know they’re ghosts and those who don’t. Some are ‘for hire,’ and a dark tantric can incite them to attack living people. They can possess people’s bodies, and it’s easier if the people are weak-minded due to intoxication or mental illness.

Ghosts have their terms as ghosts, like jail sentences. Often they are living out what would have been the remainder of their life, which was cut short by a sudden death. It generally sucks to be a ghost, because they have the same sensory desires as they did in their lives, but without the physical senses to satisfy those desires. Powerful sages and yogis can release them from their terms as ghosts and send them on to whatever comes next, usually rebirth as a human or in another species.

Interesting stuff. Some day I’d like to develop a more complex story involving ghosts.

 

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to see this scene expanded into a story, then tell me in the comments that this is the one you want. If you want to see what I can do with a deeper story, pick up  my novel here, Fire from the Overworld. It is the story of two young mystics who fight to restore balance in their desert village, when war erupts among its spirit rulers. Feel free to sign up for the new scenes in your mailbox each week, along with guest posts, and my thoughts about living, loving, investigation and creation. 

This work is licensed Creative Commons, attribution, which means you can use it however you want, even commercially. Just let people know which bits came from me. Thanks!


How to age with grace

It’s tough getting old.

A friend of mine who’s pushing 70 told me that his body’s like an old car. First this bit goes, then that bit goes… It’s tougher still when you’re surrounded by images glorifying youth. On the media we see oily muscly men with practically no body hair, women who’s proportions have been photoshoped so that they resemble barbies.

But there are advantages.

If it’s a life well lived, old age can be one of the best times. You can reap the material fruits of working hard and saving money, can enjoy friendships which have deepened over time, and can act with deeper self-knowledge than before. Whatever we gather–be it knowledge, wisdom or stuff, we’ll likely have a store of it to relish and share later in life.

So what I’m thinking about today is, how to age with grace?

Some people really hit their stride in their later years, but in what? There are some things we can’t take with us into old age: the smooth skin, endurance and strength of youth. Oh, we can age more slowly or more quickly, depending on how we live. But age we must. Some of us are dragged into older age while desperately clinging to the things that only youth allows: tons of energy, lots of sex, unstoppable immune systems, parties… Of course if you watch your diet and do yoga, you can stretch your life out (hardy har har), but we’re all getting older. Or our bodies are, anyway.

Where are the Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, New Kids on the Block?

Or where are any host of young actors and actresses who moved from A-list to B-list, then to C, then off into the oblivion of non-famousness, Sinéad O’Connor’s letter to Miley Cyrus (language warning) sums up the music industry, and really most entertainment industries. They’re factories which churn in the young, pretty and talented, then churn out the washed up. (It’s better to burn out than to fade away) Rock stars, movie stars and models have it easy in youth and hard in old age. In the media, women have it harder than men. The window of being suitable for the uses of those industries is small. The body will change.

Different parts of us age differently

Now the way I understand it, (based largely on the teachings of Bhagavad Gita and other spiritual books) we’ve got three aspects: our self (soul, spirit, atma), our mind and our body.

Body aging

Our bodies are aging constantly, starting at the moment of inception. I’ve heard a body hits its peak at around eighteen years, then slowly deteriorates from there.

Mind aging

Pursuits of the mind, on the other hand, often really kick off later in life. Many authors are published for the first time in their fifties or sixties. Professors hit their stride after much life experience. In their later years, scientists mine jewels from decades of research. Musicians become masters.

Yet the mind also fades later in life. Also death is ever approaching… what to do?

How to age with grace: spiritual life

I know many people entering into old age who really inspire me. They all share certain things in common: they’re engaged in spiritual practices. They identify themselves as being spiritual beings who continue after the body and mind fail. They know that their spirit doesn’t die, and they’re identifying with their spirit. They’re not holding onto something impermanent, and so they’re no afraid of entering old age and, eventually, dying.

 

I don’t believe in the moon

Now if you don’t believe in any kind of spiritual life whatsoever, that’s fine. I personally choose not to believe in the moon. Seriously though, I reckon if we spend our lives cultivating awareness of our immortal selves, old age and death won’t come as a shock. Death will just be the shedding of skin.

As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones. (Bhagavad Gita 2.22)

If you disagree with me, please say so in the comments! If you agree with me, you can debate respectfully with those who don’t. You can subscribe by clicking ‘follow’ in the lower right hand corner of the screen, or click facebook or twitter to share this around.

I’ll be publishing once every two weeks. I was doing once a week, but I want to put more time into each post, and also into getting them out there 🙂


What is the world’s most narrative vegetable?

There is a question that’s been debated since people began debating things, more than six years ago. It’s disagreement on this question which led to the fall of Atlantis, but also to the first explorations of space. The “Greek Miracle” in architecture, mathematics and so on came from considering this question, but so too did the fall of the Roman Empire and the death of Farmer Servius Cominius’ dog.

What is the most narrative vegetable?

Some might say the humble potato, for it fits into so many types of preparations, just like a good plotting tool (for example the try-fail cycle) fits into many a story. Others might say, “NO!! It is the chili, which injects heat into a meal, just like dramatic conflict is the heart of every story.” Others say, “The chili is not technically a vegetable!”

Without causing any more cataclysms, I submit herewith that the most narrative of all vegetables is the artichoke. Why you ask?

Here is a standard plot diagrams. 99.9 percent of films and novels follow this basic structure.

basic plot diagram

Now behold the subjective artichoke eating experience. Notice that the stages of eating an artichoke correspond more closely with the classic plot diagram than those of any other vegetable.

artichoke

I hope this conclusion will lay to rest this ancient conundrum so that humanity can get on with doing other stuff.