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Dharma Teaching in the West – dying and loss

Teaching dharma in the West needs to be redefined. It is seen clearly that the Buddha had different ways to approach teaching others to learn to stop their suffering themselves.

The mustard seed story

A very sad story about a mother’s grief over her dead child. She was so distraught she would carry the child’s dead body around and beg anyone she thought that could help her resurrect her child to do so. Town people where so upset and probably so tired of seeing her with her dead child around town that it caused her further problems.

She still grieved and did not accept her child’s death.

I have seen people make their dead child’s bedrooms into shrines, even those mothers who could not even accept their children growing up. They wast their lives grieving while the child grows and marries and has their own family! If a child is lost the grief is always there, but it lessens in time.

The Buddha was approached by the frantic woman and offered her a chance to learn for herself what the impact of death has on everyone. He said he would help her if she would collect a mustard seed from anyone who did not experience death in their family. So off she went knocking on doors, and then found the truth.

Was she cured? I do hope so. The lesson Buddha wanted her to learn is that death comes to everyone, it is best to sympathize with others therefore practicing compassion than to wallow in grief so disastrously great that it becomes your life focus.

I am blunt with friends and family who grieve too much. It’s because I’ve seen so much mental imbalance when that grief is held on so tightly that one cannot function in normal society anymore. I tell them outright, do you want to choose to grieve so much that your mind becomes imbalanced and mentally ill? Or do you want to be compassionate and care about more people who may need your help in their grieve time.

I relate my own story with loss, my recent one was dad. It’s always bad when you lose a parent, and then when you lose the remaining parent. That grief I have yet to experience.

Well how to prepare people to accept death and release from the loss they deeply experience? You give it time. You listen as often as they wish to connect with you and encourage them each time to look forward to their days and not live in the memories of the past.

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Author:

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

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