A near-death experience

This is one of the stories in our Story-Gems project, a collection of our experiences with our Guru, Sri Chinmoy. Project homepage »

My father. an accountant mostly for small businesses in the Miami Haitian community, never understood why I studied computer science (and not business), worked in medical research, and had no interest in his line of work. He always hoped for a “Eureka” moment, where I would decide to take over his business. I had an aptitude for math (math minor), and helped him during the busy tax season, but found accounting to be very boring.

When my father fell ill, I held out the hope that he would recover from his illness. So I and my father’s former assistant (a good friend of mine from my undergraduate years who had worked for my father for about 10 years), kept the business afloat for about two months.

One evening, about two weeks before my father’s passing (he had been discharged from rehab at the nursing home), I had made arrangements to meet two clients in the office. I was completely exhausted—caring for my father, working full-time, squeezing in several hours a week for the accounting clients, while working on my doctoral studies. I so badly wanted to cancel, but my father's assistant had driven from very far to meet me and help out, and so I could not.

When I arrived at the office, one lady, a successful taxi driver, talked non-stop. All I wanted was silence, and kept wishing I had cancelled. Having spent one month by my father’s side in the hospital, prior to his discharge from the nursing home, the last thing I wanted to hear about was hospital stories, so I only half listened to the taxi driver’s hospital story.

Then I heard her say, “I was in a coma for two months.” My empathy and curiosity came to the fore and I began paying closer attention. She went on to say, “I had a brain tumor and required a 16-hour operation. I remember going into the operating room. At a certain point, I was rising up and I looked down and could see myself on the surgical table. I then went to the most beautiful place … it was all light … there was beautiful music. Then I reached a certain place and they (she never qualified who ‘they’ were) told me I had to go back. Next, I remember waking up and the doctor began explaining that I had been in a coma for two months.”

I couldn’t believe my ears! The story was classic rendition by those who recount near-death experiences you see on TV or read about. It also turned out that one day, perhaps about 4 years prior, I had used her services to go to the airport! (Haitian women taxi drivers are not common).

At that point, I felt this tremendous peace. My mind quieted, my heart opened. All was calm. The taxi driver was the instrument, and this would be confirmed once again, about two weeks later, just a few hours after my father actually passed. Guru had begun preparing me—reassuring me that my father’s soul would go to this beautiful place, as well!

In a TV interview, Sri Chinmoy explains the symbiosis of life and death.

My earth-bound life  
Is fleeting.  
But inside me is another life —  
My Heaven-free life — 
And that Heaven-free life  
Is immortal.

Sri Chinmoy 1