The quality of your existence must supersede your physical life. This truism echoes the mahaguru’s thinking. Your karmas (actions and thoughts) influence the quality of your existence in this world (Bhu-loka) and qualify you for other lokas. That is why the mahaguru suggested that our aims and aspirations must extend beyond our present-day incarnation to multiple lifetimes. And each lifetime must stack up towards the goal of reaching higher lokas, being blissful for extended periods, achieving mukti (temporary suspension from the birth-death cycle) and ultimately, reuniting with the param-aatma.

The easiest way to grasp the mahaguru’s truism is by using the analogy of the corporate world. Suppose you are doing well in your current job and can back it up with recommendations, references, and an excellent reputation. In that case, you stand a good chance of getting a better job with a higher title and significant benefits. Similarly, even in the spiritual realm, your jivaatma evaluates itself objectively at the end of each life term based on attitudes changed, attributes gained, and the altitude attained. This transformation assessment score determines the quality of your next life. As a result, every lifetime becomes an opportunity to improve one’s score and move closer to the goal post.

Only when the mahaguru taught me to flirt with death did I begin to think about living for the future. I realised that while I might be given a sabbatical in the afterlife before my next assignment as a human, it was my current incarnation that would qualify me for either a hut or a palace. If I were concerned about the quality of my existence, I would strive to make this life better than the last or the one before it. Knowing that even the best-laid plans could be derailed by death, I reasoned that it was prudent to prepare for it. Being prepared entailed constantly being aware of my physical and spiritual surroundings while being conscious of anything that might distract me from the mission of self-transformation.

In any lifetime, efforts towards improving the quality of existence entail working within the framework of time and intention. Practices that amplify your efforts must be considered hygiene and routinely undertaken until they become habits.

In studying Gurudev’s habits, I stumbled upon their correlation with his philosophy, and re-learned self-hygiene is not only about personal well-being but equally about the welfare of others.