Photo Credit: Bill Muehlenberg

Dying Spiritually

Girish Borkar

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‘Dying spiritually’ is a phrase that may initially evoke feelings of unease or apprehension. After all, death in any form is often perceived as the end of something, the cessation of existence. However, when we delve deeper into the concept of spiritual death, we uncover a profound truth: it is not an end, but a transition — a gateway to transformation and rebirth.

Spiritual death, unlike physical death, is not marked by the cessation of bodily functions or the departure of the soul from the physical realm. Instead, it refers to the process of shedding the layers of ego, attachment, and illusion that obscure our true essence. It is a death of the old self — the ‘self’ defined by worldly desires, fears, and limitations — and the emergence of a new, awakened ‘self’ rooted in higher consciousness and divine truth.

His Holiness Shivkrupanand Swami teaches us to die spiritually — meaning to get completely rid of the ego, of the ‘I’-sense and, also get rid of all material desires. Once the body consciousness represented by the ego and desires dissolves and soul consciousness comes to the fore, slowly through regular meditation one dies spiritually. After that one lives a life of bliss and selfless love, always living in the present moment.

In many spiritual traditions, the journey of spiritual death is likened to the metaphor of the phoenix rising from the ashes. It is a process of surrendering to the divine will, letting go of the ego’s grip, and allowing ourselves to be consumed by the flames of transformation. Like the phoenix, we must first undergo the agony of dissolution — the burning away of our old identity, beliefs, and attachments — before we can emerge renewed and reborn from the ashes.

One of the most profound teachings on spiritual death comes from the Bhagavad Gita, where Lord Krishna imparts the wisdom of the eternal self to Arjuna. He explains that just as a person discards old clothes and wears new ones, the soul discards old bodies and takes on new ones in its journey through eternity. Death, therefore, is not the end but merely a transition — a passing from one state of being to another.

The path of spiritual death is not an easy one. It requires courage, faith, and a willingness to confront our deepest fears and insecurities. It demands that we let go of the familiar and embrace the unknown, trusting in the guidance of the divine. It is a journey of surrender and purification, as we confront the shadows within ourselves and allow the light of truth to illuminate our path.

Yet, despite the challenges, the rewards of spiritual death are immeasurable. As we release the grip of the ego and open ourselves to the divine presence, we experience a profound sense of freedom, peace, and inner fulfilment. We discover that our true essence is not limited by the boundaries of the physical body or the constraints of the material world, but is vast, infinite, and eternal.

In the words of the mystic Rumi, “Die before you die, and find that there is no death.” When we embrace the process of spiritual death, we awaken to the eternal truth of our being — that we are not merely mortal creatures bound by time and space, but divine beings of light and love, forever connected to the source of all creation.

Spiritual death is not an end, but a beginning — a doorway to a higher state of consciousness and a deeper understanding of our place in the universe. It is a journey of self-discovery, self-transcendence, and ultimately, self-realisation which leads on to liberation. So let us embrace the process of dying spiritually, knowing that in the surrendering of the old, we make way for the birth of the new — the emergence of our true, divine selves.

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Girish Borkar

Spirituality ... meditation ... insights ... inner peace ... the journey continues... love and gratitude