12 Precepts of Evening Hospice
by Swami Kriyananda
The word “hospice” is defined in my dictionary differently from modern usage. It means, “A lodging for travelers, especially one kept by a religious order.” Why “Evening Hospice”? Because alternative words (twilight, sunset) suggest a sense of loss.
“Evening Hospice” will be a place of retirement for elderly people. Every effort will be made to make it a true, alternate home for them.
A frequently repeated theme in the Bhagavad Gita is the importance of preparing for death. Death is the “final exam” of life. In old age, especially, people should be readied for their final exit into a better world, a better future — and, if possible, liberation from all earthly ties.
Counseling should be given both to groups and to individuals with a view to helping them in the following ways:
1. To face the past
2. To relinquish attachments
3. To accept past errors without regret as simple facts, trying to see that it was God, through their imperfect understanding, who did it all
4. To release the grip of ego-consciousness
5. To release, one by one, every desire and attachment into the Supreme Bliss
6. To offer every regret into God’s love and Infinite Consciousness
7. To forgive past hurts and betrayals
8. To give out universal love to everyone, even to so-called enemies
9. To help them see that everyone is motivated, however misguidedly, by the same soul-craving for Satchidananda (bliss)
10. To concentrate on infinity
11. To practice devotion
12. To learn to overcome fear by realizing that we are not this body
Monks and nuns could take on this work as their form of self-support and divine seva, or service.
Someone might be always present in the chapel or prayer room, chanting in Hindi and in English with the harmonium.
When people express grief or fear, help them to relax calmly into the Self. Help them to see death as a great adventure, a release from physical bondage and mental limitations. Every effort should be made to focus their minds and hearts on beauty and harmony; kindness and love; good will and inner joy.
After working with these precepts for a time, we realized it would help to have it stated in prayer form, and so the Conscious Living Prayer was born. We say this prayer together with our residents and staff daily. It helps us deepen our understanding and ability to live the precepts in every moment.
Conscious Living Prayer
May I have the courage and wisdom to face the past.
May I offer every regret into God’s love and Infinite Consciousness.
May I accept past errors as simple facts, trying to see that it was God, through my imperfect understanding who did it all.
May I relinquish all attachments.
May I release the grip of ego-consciousness.
May I release one by one every desire and attachment into the Supreme Bliss.
May I forgive past hurts and betrayals.
May I give universal love to everyone, even to so-called enemies.
May I see that everyone is motivated, however misguidedly, by the same soul-craving for Satchidananda (Ever-existing, Ever Conscious, Ever New Bliss).
May I concentrate on Infinity.
May I practice devotion.
May I learn to overcome fear by realizing that we are not this body or personality, but a unique aspect of the divine finding our way home.
Aum, Peace, Amen