Mercury will turn around and begin its retrograde phase on March 5, 2019 and will continue to be retrograde until March 28th. The first part of its retrograde phase will take place in Uttara Bhadrapada nakshatra from March 5th - March 11th, and the rest will take place in Purva Bhadrapada. These nakshatras are both symbolized by a funeral cot, so they both symbolize endings. This is a great time to get rid of things or conditions in your life that are not serving you any more. Clean out your desk, your garage, or your office. Get rid of clutter, and clean house. This is your chance to purge your environment (this includes your emotional environment) of anything that needs to go.
In India, the funeral cot is the bed upon which dead bodies are cremated. Yogis sometimes sit on dead bodies in the cremation grounds and meditate, since it drives home the realization that life is temporary. We could all do with a little of that realization.
In the Mahabharata, a classical Hindu text, there is a story about a great king, Yudhisthira. Yudhisthira was a member of the Pandava family. He had four brothers. Their names were Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Together the Pandva brothers fought and won the great war against their cousins, the Kauravas, which came to be known as the Kurukshetra War.
Their story was a very, very long story. But during part of that story, all five brothers lived in exile, for a period of time, in a beautiful forest.
One day, a poor priest was performing a fire ritual, when a deer snatched his fire-making sticks in his antlers and ran away. The priest was very upset so he went to the Pandava brothers and asked them for help. The five brothers chased the deer into the forest, but in spite of all of their skill as hunters, they couldn't find the deer.
Completely exhausted and thirsty, the brothers sat down under a banyan tree to rest in the shade. Nakula climbed the tree and looked to see if he could find a source of water. From high up in the tree, he was able to see a lake. So he climbed down from the tree, took some empty quivers to use as water containers, and hiked to the lake.
When he arrived at the lake, he was very thirsty, so before he filled up the quivers, he knelt down in order to get a drink of water. Just as he was about to take a drink, a voice said, "Do not drink from the lake!" The voice was mysterious and startling, but Nakula was incredibly thirsty, so he ignored the voice and took a drink anyway. But the moment the water touched his lips, he suddenly dropped dead.
Now, one at a time, each of the other brothers of Yudhisthira came to investigate. And each brother, in turn, heard and ignored the voice of the lake telling them not to drink, causing each of them to drop dead beside the lake.
Finally, Yudhisthira became worried and went to find out what had happened to his brothers. When he arrived at the lake, he was shocked to see the dead bodies of all four of his brothers laying on the ground like driftwood. Like his brothers, Yudhisthira was thirsty, so while he was wondering what had happened to his brothers, he reached down to get a handful of water. Just before he took a drink, he heard the voice of the spirit in the lake tell him that he must not take a drink. The voice told him that if he wanted to take a drink, he would have to answer some questions correctly first.
Being a very wise man, and seeing what had happened to his brothers, Yudhisthira agreed to answer the questions.
First the lake asked, "How does one become empowered?" Yudhisthira answered, "Through practicing courage and patience."
Next the lake asked, "What is faster than the wind and what grows like wild grass?"
Yudhisthira said, "The mind is faster than the wind, and our worries are more numerous than strands of grass."
The questions continued.
Lake: "What is forgiveness?
Yudhishthira: "Acceptance of the differences in the world."
Lake: "What is the invincible enemy? What is an eternal disease?"
Yudhishthira: "Anger is the invincible enemy. Covetousness is an eternal, incurable disease."
Lake: "What is grief?"
Yudhishthira: "Ignorance is grief."
Lake: "What is charity?"
Yudhishthira: "Charity is the protection of all creatures."
The questions went on like this, and each time, Yudhisthira answered the question correctly. Then finally, the lake asked, "What is the greatest mystery in life?"
Yudhisthira paused for a moment and then said, "The greatest mystery in life is that day after day, countless creatures die, and every human being eventually dies, yet those that remain ignore this, and strive to be immortal. This is the greatest mystery of life!"
Yudhisthira's answer was right, and the lake allowed him to drink and spared his life. The lake also restored the lives of his brothers.
Did you ever consider, that life in this human body is a train wreck? That's right, a train wreck! We are like passengers on a runaway train that is headed for a brick wall, and this journey is only going to end in one way for all of us. But most of us don't want to think about it. It is human nature to somehow believe that we will somehow continue on into old age and into some undefined future.
Pardon the violent analogy, but this is exactly why yogis meditate in graveyards. It is for the purpose of waking up out of the dream that causes us to put so much importance on the dramas and stories of our very, very temporary lives. None of it lasts. In a matter of a few short years, all of those personal stories will simply disappear.
Which brings us back to the point. Mercury starts its retrograde phase in Uttara Bhadra nakshatra. Each nakshatra has a desire. Uttara Bhadra's desire is to find a firm foundation in life. In other words, while it is a nakshatra that symbolizes the temporary quality of life, it also gives the desire to find something that doesn't change, something within that will not die.
So here's a question for you. But maybe you should take a drink of water before you answer. And don't worry, its okay. Here's the question. "What is it that doesn't pass away, and that remains stable and steady when everything else changes and disappears?
Think about it during this Mercury retrograde period, and if you figure it out, let me know, because whatever it is, it is really the greatest mystery of life!