I saw a video of a talk by Swami Kriyananda, “What Happens After a Person Dies?” And now I am worried about my mother’s “afterlife.” She doesn’t believe in God and has become a very bitter and difficult person. I can feel her unhappiness, but I can’t get through to her. I love her and know she has a kind heart. I always believed that angels and “loved ones” will be there to guide us into the spiritual world. Will my mother experience this also? I can’t bear the thought of her not experiencing love and relief.
It is always good to remember that God is no tyrant. His law is impersonal and always fair.
God lives within us and is not fooled. If your mother has, as you say, a kind heart, be certain that God knows and will respond accordingly. “God reads the heart,” as Paramhansa Yogananda put it.
Your mother will perceive the highest reality of which she is capable. The soul longs to reunite with God. It seeks the Light as unrelentingly as a river seeks the sea.
Be assured that angels and other divine beings will help your mother in the astral world. But she will not be able to rise beyond her actual state of consciousness. I suspect that during her lifetime you and perhaps other friends have tried to coax her out of her bitterness. But if she was determined to hold on to it, very likely nothing that you said or did could change her.
(Photo: The attitudes we take with us at death place limits on how much God is able to help us. But even our most negative attitudes teach us hard lessons that help us advance toward ever-greater bliss and freedom.)
Dying does not by itself liberate us from our self-acquired limitations. To the extent that we define ourselves by our limitations, we will remain limited even in the astral world.
If her bitterness is more than a question of personality, but extends to a rejection of divine realities, there is no way that even God Himself can force her to open herself to a Light that she doesn’t want to receive.
We learn by experiencing the satisfactions of Bliss to seek ever more Bliss. We also learn through the absence of Bliss, that is, through suffering, to question ourselves and, eventually, to open ourselves to realities that we may have formerly rejected.
Think of your years growing up with your mother. Perhaps you are a mother yourself. Certainly there are times when a child rebels against life’s necessary but unpleasant demands. Going to school, for example, or learning to share with brothers and sisters, or doing homework. Or not eating the whole cake in one sitting!
The child may be angry, rebellious, or grief-stricken at what is being imposed on him. But a good mother will not yield to the child’s whim. She knows the future, and the child does not.
It would not be “love” on her part but merely cowardice if she were to yield to the child’s emotions when his entire future happiness is at stake.
So it is with our Divine Mother. She knows that all souls must learn lessons that may appear to be very hard. She knows the future, and we do not. Only by transcending the ego and embracing the Infinite reality will we find the satisfaction our hearts crave.
You and your mother have played the part of parent and child. But that is merely a garment which you wore for this incarnation. When she will discard the “garment” of the body that carried you in its womb, your relationship will return to its underlying truth: friendship in God.
If you want to be a true friend to your mother, you must help her in the way that the Divine Mother would help her. To pray merely that she be happy would be like giving the child the cake so that he will stop crying. You must show the same courage and faith in God that you want your mother to have.
What you must pray for now is that your mother will learn whatever lesson the ever-compassionate Divine Mother is trying to teach her. That she find within herself the courage, devotion, humility, and wisdom to move forward in her ow higher understanding, not merely in her ego-based feelings.
Your mother has very good karma – she raised a devotee who can now pray for her! Not merely for her temporary comfort, but for her eternal well-being.
It is natural to feel sympathy for your mother’s suffering. It is very good to have a tender heart. But the heart must be guided by wisdom. Too much sympathy may not be helpful to her at this time.
To become bitter is not helpful to the soul. When your mother made that choice, she dug for herself a pit of wrong understanding. Now she is living in that pit and must decide whether to stay there or climb out.
Be assured, your mother got herself into this difficulty, and she can also remove herself from it. You need to respect your mother in the way that a mother needs to respect her child.
Your prayers can help her. Especially if you pray in the right way: with gratitude for what she gave you, with tender concern for her feelings, but with courage and faith that she can and will awaken to higher realities.