My friend and I during high school

My friend and I in a high school performance

A friend of mine died two weeks ago. He was my closest friend during high school, and was planning to visit me at Ananda Village today.

Events like this give us a chance to ask, after it is all over: where are we, spiritually? how did we react? This experience was surprising for me in this way, and I’ll explain why.

When I found out about his death last Wednesday, I naturally prayed for his soul; for it to rise and seek the light. I used a version of Yogananda’s “Divine Mother prayer,” modified for this purpose. It is:

“Divine Mother, Thou art omnipresent. Thou art in all Thy children. Thou art in the soul of [the person’s name]. Manifest Thy healing presence in [his or her] soul.”

(For a living person you would end with “body, mind, and soul.”)

The next day there was an hour-long healing prayer session, held for a number of people. We have these each Thursday at Ananda Village, and all community members and guests are invited.

Praying for my friend during both of these times, I seemed to feel him very near, as if no gulf of time and space rose to separate us. However, I didn’t feel, until the group prayers, as if it was doing any good! But a couple of hours after praying with a group, a thought of him crossed my mind, and I was surprised to feel joy.

With an experience like this, it is hard to feel that any permanent loss has occurred. With this, and with wise counsel and friendship, what I expected to be difficult for weeks was only painful for a few days. It is like it was the spiritual test that “might have been.”

Yogananda explained much about what happens after death. In The Essence of Self-Realization, he says that materialistic souls fall into a deep sleep, and are reborn after some time, to continue their climb toward spiritual enlightenment.

Spiritual souls, having developed spiritual sensitivity through right action, go to heavenly planes.

And, he says, “Those souls, especially, who in this life have meditated even a little bit, go to regions of great beauty after death.”

My friend had many good qualities. He even had spiritual inclinations, but left them mostly unfulfilled. Because of this, in the last week I’ve been feeling a sense of urgency in seeking God.

Death can come at any time and without warning; life is precious – not something to let slip away, neglecting the things that really matter.

As Yogananda said: “Everything else can wait, but my search for God cannot wait.”