Do you realize that one day, you are going to die?
This isn’t meant to be a morbid or depressing question. It’s exactly just that – are you aware of the fact that you will pass someday?
Have you considered what happens at that point? Or after that point?
Every spiritual tradition offers some sort of explanation for what happens after death. According to many Indic traditions, when you die (assuming you’re not fully enlightened, which is basically all of us), you enter pitṛloka – the realm of the ancestors, where you reflect on your actions during life and await a new birth.
From this place, while you are no longer able to change your own karma (energetic patterns), you are able to offer protection and blessing to your descendants. In fact, the ancestors are thought to be the guardians of life – they are said to be the invisible forces that help couples meet and fall in love, they protect children as they grow, they guide you to the right job, and silently support you as you fulfill your personal and spiritual goals.
Life is a stream, and we are all drops within it, constantly changing forms but always connected to each other, impacting each other. If your life feels stuck, overwhelming, or somehow unbearable, the tradition invites you to look backwards and remember where you came from – that you draw on your roots for the strength to soar upwards.
And it also asks us to honor our ancestors’ lives – not by repeating their choices, but by becoming greater than them – more wise, kind, brave, and generous. As we awaken from subconscious patterns of suffering, because of our interconnectedness, we also release our ancestors as well.
Each year, there is a special time set aside to connect with the ancestors, to bridge the gap between the living and the dead, so that life can flow forth in a good way. During this time, called Pitṛ Pakṣa, the veil between this realm and their realm is quite thin, and we have easier access to them than usual.
From tonight’s full moon until the next new moon, there are a range of practices you can do to connect with your ancestors and heal any unresolved karma (energetic patterns) that are affecting the flow of life.
Even if you’re a major skeptic, we invite you to try these practices. This is one of those mysterious areas where no one really knows for sure how or why ancestor practices are so potent, only that they are!
Things to keep in mind:
1) Because our attention turns towards death, it is a quiet and austere time – ideal for reflection, charitable service, and meditation. It is not the best time for partying, traveling, or starting new things.
2) Ancestors can be people within our family lineage, but can also include teachers, elders, mentors, or even animals who have passed. And since all of humanity is related within 50 generations, we actually all share ancestors – the ancestor practices you do are ultimately for all humanity.
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