Sat Chit Ananda

Two months ago today, my immensely loved mom passed away. She had received the diagnosis of terminal cancer only 4 months prior. During these past 6 months I have experienced the most intense and difficult moments of my life, and some of the most beautiful and meaningful. Life becomes significant when you are acutely aware of its ephemeral nature.

Because we were presented with the imminent end of my mom’s life, we spent her last weeks in a state of full presence; constantly mindful of the preciousness of each moment we had together. A particular afternoon comes to mind when my mom and I talked about her wishes for her memorial service. Despite the sad topic of conversation, we both felt immensely grateful for each other’s presence. There was a sense of complete peace with the way things were. Of course, many moments of anguish followed, but I was able to tolerate them thanks to the wise lessons my mom has taught me. Ever since I was a child, when I was worried or sad, she always asked: “Do you want comfort, or insight?” I would reply that I wanted comfort first and then insight. In her honor and in loving memory, I’d like to share some of her wisdom and insights she has given me.

“You can’t always change your circumstances, but you can change how you relate to them.” Mom surrendered completely to Life; to that what was the case. Not as a passive victim, but out of a conviction that there is no point in resisting Life. Even when she received her diagnosis in December, she was determined not to fight the cancer. She accepted her illness completely: “This is a pity, but not a big deal.”

I have great admiration for how she did that, and how she made the most of every day. No matter how much she was able to do in a day, she was completely there and experienced every day very consciously. I will never forget that she said: “The opposite of life is not death, but not living.” In her eyes, you weren’t really alive if you weren’t fully present in the moment.

When my brother and I were little, mom became Sanyassin, or as some disrespectfully called it: she “joined the Baghwan”. I know many have judged that, and I’ve also had times when I wanted a “normal” mom with whom we would go to church on Sundays like other kids in my class. Now I have deep respect and admiration for the fact that she chose that path already then. For mom, this was a way to be reminded of who she really was – and still is: Consciousness. As human beings we are Consciousness in a shell that we call the body. This is why she chose the words Sat Chit Ananda for her memorial card. “That sums it all up”, she said.

When we experience complete Silence in our Being, a peace beyond our understanding, an unconditional well-being in which nothing is lacking, without striving to be anywhere or anyone else, then we rest in who we Really Are. It is Coming Home. Sat Chit Ananda indicates recognizing what you already are but did not see because you were too busy with things outside of yourself. That’s why mom loved silence and being alone. Because that way she could fully experience herself – as Consciousness. Her awareness of this makes her the wisest woman I’ve  known, and know.

I am incredibly grateful that mom was – and is – my mother. I always felt very proud when I introduced her to someone, when we went somewhere together, when she joined my yoga classes and retreats on Bali and in Italy. I always wanted to say to everyone: “Look! This beautiful wise woman is my mother!” I’ve done thousands of hours of training and read hundreds of books, but I always went to Mom for advice.

Mom also taught me to have faith in life. She used to say, “You always have everything you need, and if you think you don’t, you’re not looking closely.” She also said: “As long as you choose with your heart, you can’t go wrong in life.” That has reassured me many times. Even now.

Mom has taught me to be thankful for the people around me and that everyone matters. She was not impressed by status nor did she look down on the less fortunate; everyone was human to her. She was so thankful for all the kind help, cards, messages, and words she received during the period when she was ill. She was extremely grateful for her apartment on the Rozenhofje, for the birdsong outside, the beautiful tree in front of her window, for my brother and me. She was thankful for Life. The evening before she passed, she said: “It is done now”. Early the next morning she took her last breath, in the presence of my brother and me. It was her last Complete Surrender to the Great Whole. She’s not really gone. She is Home. I know we will meet again one day. Goodbye is not forever. Love is.