My friend Brindey passed away on March 9, 2016, the morning of Sri Yukteswar’s mahasamadhi. It was an fitting transition for a warrior devotee who drew such strength from Sri Yukteswar’s life and teachings. Even as she died, a photo of him was resting on her body.
After spending 25 years living away, Brindey returned to Ananda Village in the summer of 2013 as a brahmacharini in the Nayaswami Order. She moved to the Ananda Meditation Retreat to serve in the office welcoming guests, improving the website, and working with groups who wanted to spend many days bathing in joy in the gardens there.
Brindey was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. In the last few years of her life, she never wavered from Truth, from her search for God, or from dharma (right action). And she inspired everyone she met to do the same.
Meeting the Challenge with Energy
In October 2015 Brindey found out that she had cancer. From that moment, her every intent was to serve those around her, either by sharing her story or by inviting anyone who wished to, to come to her bedside to talk about God and Guru.
Swami Kriyananda once said, “Creativity is essential on the spiritual path.” He didn’t mean artistic creativity necessarily, but that the devotee must constantly ask the question, “How can I serve God better?” The form this service takes doesn’t matter. Brindey was creatively serviceful to the end.
In the short time she had left in her body, Brindey, who had never before done such a thing, gave a three-part webinar on Conscious Recovery [Editor’s note: She gave an interview on the subject, The Battle to Overcome Addiction—a Devotee’s Journey]; drove to Sacramento, the Bay Area, and Reno to help with book fairs and give classes on Conscious Recovery from alcohol to overeating to depression and beyond; moved four times as her health deteriorated and she needed alternate housing; set up a satsang for the women in the community to talk about her journey, opening up to any questions anyone might have on the subject of death and dying; wrote an article for Clarity Magazine, Welcoming Death; and met many hours with Nayaswami
Nalini, who is writing a book on graceful passings. And even, one month before she passed and was on oxygen, took a four-hour train ride with a friend because it was a last wish. And when she found out that her football team, the Broncos, was playing in the Superbowl, nothing was going to keep her from rooting for them with gusto!
She also became a nayaswami, took life vows in Ananda’s Sevaka Order, became a minister, and in November, even after learning of her own cancer, performed a funeral service for one of her closest friends.
She also put much effort in reconnecting with her children, now grown, who had been adopted and with whom she had barely had any contact in many years.
Her daughter and grandson came all the way from the East Coast to spend time with her — time she cherished and spoke of often. Her son Daniel and his daughter were planning a trip West as well but were a few weeks late. Brindey spoke with him over the phone, however, and felt the deep connection she used to have with him return.
Her son Vijay, whom she hadn’t been able to find, called her a few days before she passed. The look of joy on her face expressed the grace she felt from her guru, fulfilling for her another very precious desire.
Around Christmas-time, Brindey had a dream. She saw the great saint, Anandamoyee Ma, sitting on a large cushion with Brindey’s three children on her lap. A large blissful smile on her face assured Brindey not to worry, that Ma would take care of them. After that, Brindey could let go of any attachment and regret she had over the inability to raise them herself.
Stories from a Friend
A friend of Brindey’s has shared the following thoughts and stories about her passing.
Leaving Her Body
At 11:00am yesterday, Brindey’s soul left a body that no longer served her. When the end came, she was sureounded in a tangible aura of peace and devotion .
She passed at the end of one of Swamiji’s songs, “Chant of the Angels.” After we chanted AUM, Ric Moorehouse shared something.
Just two minutes before her passing, while he sat at the foot of her bed, he had a vision of Swami Kriyananda (Swamiji) and Paramhansa Yogananda (Master) on either side of her, standing and holding her hands with joyous smiles. That morning another devotee at Ananda Village also witnessed this vision.
A Conscious Exit
Brindey had wanted to make a conscious exit. At the end of her life, God gave her the maximum challenge to keep her mind focused solely on Him. I believe her consciousness was firmly in the superconscious during her transition process. I also believe without a doubt that the masters were in the room with all of us.
I cannot express strongly enough how utterly astounding it was from a physical perspective that Brindey could keep her consciousness focused in superconsciousness during her process. It was as if Brindey had been practicing and preparing for that moment for her entire life.
Durga spoke with Brindey on the phone at 8:30pm the night before. Brindey told her, “I have so much energy, I feel like I can run a marathon.” Her channel to the Divine was opening, and God gave her the energy to do what she needed to.
The Blessings of the Masters
I had my head near Brindey’s so that I could hear her in case she needed something. She asked that her family be notified. Then she focused at the point between the eyebrows with all her concentration.
After a time, very softly, she said the following with a tone of voice as if she was answering the door and seeing someone she was not expecting and yet was excited and surprised to see. She said: Jesus Christ… Jesus… Sri Yukteswar… Master… Swami… It’s beautiful… I love you… Aum Guru, Aum Guru….
She mentioned these names off and on through the night.
Later she came back into her body a bit and asked, “Is everyone OK?” I told her that yes, we were all OK — essentially I told her she could go now and we would be fine here on this plane of existence. After that she said something to the effect of, “Will you be able to take care of each other?” I said yes, we will take care and support each other.
As a blessing for her, we brought a cane that had belonged to Paramhansa Yogananda — the one that is usually in the Shrine of the Masters at Ananda Village. I asked the ladies in the room to place the cane on Brindey. When they did, which they did very gently, she squeezed my hands with incredible strength and force.
All of us have our own unique karma, and every death I have seen is unique. What is the same in each, however, is that God comes to each soul in a form that is comforting to them. I feel that souls are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and they leave their bodies when they have completed what they needed to do.
It seemed that everything happened the way it was supposed to happen; that God was in complete control of every thought, word, action, and person. He was in charge of the whole show, as He always is. We are blessed beyond our understanding when we realize that fact.
Freed from Suffering
While I was meditating on the morning after Brindey’s passing, I felt that she wanted everyone to know she did not suffer after the initial start of her dying process. She did not suffer physically, mentally, or spiritually.
God pulled back the veil just enough, and Brindey was the willing channel, to allow me to hear what her soul was experiencing so that it could be shared and bring comfort to all of us.
Letters from Brindey
Oh my, such beautiful letters I am receiving! From India, Assisi and friends here. What an incredible experience Durga!
You know, I may be wrong about something. I have always said that we experience love as it goes through us to others, not as it comes to us.
But Master is showing me that we can feel love as it comes to us!
I am humbled, so very humbled by it all!
And earlier, in a letter to the community when she found out she had cancer, she wrote:
Master, Swamiji and all the Gurus’ emphasize the attitude to “Never give up.” So, although I am at peace with the possibility that this little bubble may soon return to the Ocean from which it came, I am also aware that it is good to “stay in the body as long as it is spiritually beneficial”… God and Guru know far better than I what is best for this incarnation. I leave the results in Their Wisdom and Love.
Grace is ever with us — all we need to do is “receive” it, welcome it. As Master said, “It is our birthright! Anything and everything can and will be accomplished by the Grace that lives in AUM, by the Grace that is waiting for our embrace.
Never again will I have to overcome alcoholism, or the horrible habit of smoking. This war is over and inner peace reigns.
Brindey’s ashes will be placed at the meditation retreat, the Memorial Gardens at the Village and taken to India to be scattered over the waters of the sacred Ganges River.
This rainbow was seen in the sky as Brindey was passing.
For those interested, Nayaswami Brindey gave a webinar series, Conscious Recovery and the Art of Joyful Living, which is available through Online with Ananda — it was a topic she deeply believed in. She felt that people going through a recovery process no longer need to identify with their mistakes.