Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Chinese culture

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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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.

Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Chinese culture, Conflicts in Buddhist Life, Dharma Talks, Mahayana culture, On the Path, Sangha Relationships, Theravada culture

Caring for trying not to share the grief

Right now I’m fine. Although I shocked myself by sharing tears with a young woman whom came to me for help. It happened when I had a visit from a young college woman who had left college and brought her parents over to be with her after her dad suffered pancreatic cancer and now suffers from advanced liver cancer. She is a little older than my own daughter. Suffering from knowing her dad is dying in 2 or 3 months. Wishing for a cure. She had said she didn’t accept his dying. And we chatted about her situation I decided to share mine. My dad died in 2008 and I went through what she is about to go through. So when she broke down, I shared tears and I apologized for it because I after all was trying to be there for her and not have my issues. I worried and am worried that I will cry in the moments facings their deep grief when her dad is actually on his dying day. How can I help chant when I am weeping too? I used to be critical of nuns who cried during funerals now I see how deeply they loved their fathers or mothers or children and remember that when they are trying to do funerals. I do indeed. What should I do?