Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Chan - authentic Masters words, Chinese culture, Conflicts in Buddhist Life, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Sangha Relationships

Tears spilt in grief…when can Sangha cry?

When can we Sangha cry?  How about what happens when we lose our parent or a child?  We cry of course, but we also must carry on in our day and even some of us have to perform at the funeral like I had to and be at the reception and stay with my mom cuz the rest of the family couldn’t bear to, even they never came over cuz their own grief was too much.

How about when we have to suffer in our grief too? We suffer, we grieve but when that first person comes to us in tears, it’s almost a sure bet that our tears spill forth in remembrance.  It should be shameful, but it really is not.  We are humans too.  We are supposed to let go of our attachments quickly and we do but we still have memories and cherish our loved ones too.

Nobody addressed the needs of those ordained who lived through 9/11 and had to carry on performing countless funerals, counsel grieving families, run their temples, but when they talked to me, they were angry with their grief was not being acknowledged at all.  In fact, most of the clergy in churches had grief too not just in temples or mosques. They all were not acknowledged by the public because the need was so great, it really was.  I was out there and saw it; I’ve never seen public grief on such as scale as I did in NYC. I learned a lot about it then, and about funerals where we were in and out in 30 to 6o mins depending on the family needs, no talking just in and out! So many sometimes we didn’t eat that day until 1 am.  wow!

My recent encounter with a grieving Buddhist led me to this uncomfortable truth about myself.  I was suddenly spilling tears with this dear person.  I apologized, for (what…being unprofessional…please I’m walking the Path…sure we are supporting laity but we have a right to be human too).  But my dear Buddhist friend just handed me a tissue and we shared our tears through the conversation on what to do and how to prepare, we drank tea and both of us inspite of our individual grief had come away with something better…two people who connected and I hope and pray when the funeral day comes that I keep it together for these dear Buddhists need more than a weeping nun to help them in their future hours of need.

Can you believe I blamed it on hormones, as my change of life has been in full erratic swing for a couple of years already!  We all do our best, some of us are good at hiding our tears, in our rooms away from curious eyes or our Sangha and in our darkest hours when we most need our companions by our side in full on support and offering comfort.  I from now on, will strive to be solid and if I tear up, I hope to quickly recover enough to be solid in my support for my future services at the side of my dear Buddhist friends.

You know we don’t hug but I was not going to let my dear Buddhist lady leave my home without a solid squeezer. If I could have I would have taken her home and put her to bed and watched over her that’s how much I care about comforting someone in grief.  But you know as Sangha we are truly limited in how we comfort people in grief and as a mom I just wish that part of it would be less impersonal. Maybe one day I can figure out a dignified way to help people that would be acceptable in the East and the West.  Right now I only know Iowa ways of cooking comfort food and providing a willing ear and support.  My temple training works well for me and know I must apply it to meet the needs of my Buddhist families in this area.  I wish for more wisdom!

Dad’s ashes in the brass urn with tiny navy stripe on it at the funeral home.  And one picture of dad when he was alive.  In the last 6 months before he died he lost so much weight he looked like his young self in that black and white picture and he marveled at it.

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I am a Bhikshuni ordained in Mahayana Chinese Buddhist tradition. I'm currently translating Vinaya sutras from the Chinese Mahayana Tripitaka.