When a loved one dies, we are likely to feel both the sadness of loss as well as grateful memories of many happy experiences together. Sometimes, we also feel regret: why wasn’t I more patient or understanding or insightful?
We are coming to the anniversary of the passing of our beloved teacher and friend, Swami Kriyananda. All of the above emotions came upon me in the months after his passing. Along with these feelings, after his passing many of us in Ananda also felt a blissful upliftment of consciousness that lasted for about two months. Because so many felt it, I believe it was a blessing Swamiji sent to help us deal with his passing.
Mingled in with this tangible, loving bliss, was my self-recrimination: why didn’t I understand what he meant in certain situations, why wasn’t I quicker to embrace what he asked of me. Incidents came to mind of times I’d missed what he was trying to teach me, what I needed to grasp. My regret kept elbowing its way into his gift of tangible joy.
One morning in meditation I had an epiphany. I realized that the reason I was kicking myself for my stupidity in the past was that I now had greater wisdom. If I had had the spiritual maturity I now had at those times in the past, I would have behaved differently.
I realized I should rejoice that I had learned something over the years. It was wrong to bog my mind down with regret or to define myself as I had been.
Instead, I should look at the quality I was missing at those times. Perhaps it was kindness, willingness, courage, or selflessness. Instead of bogging down in regret, I should now let that quality flow through me – through my actions, through my prayers and meditations. Focus on the positive qualities instead of the seeming lacks.
A friend of mine lost her husband after just a few years of marriage. She had regrets about some of her actions or attitudes in the marriage. Swamiji’s guidance to her was: Don’t allow your mind to focus on regrets; instead, focus on your gratitude for all the good.