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Coming to terms with our own mortality

29 December 2020 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Eventually she gave up and realised what the Buddha was trying to teach her; that death happens and no one is exempted from it

 

Recently I read an article which stated that those who are extra sensitive, ( artists, musicians- Basically those who create things) experiences the feelings of pain more than the average human beings. For me personally it’s been a curse more than a blessing. ( For the first time, after reading that article- I wished I was born ‘average’). However, ‘unfortunately’ I was born into a family of musicians and was involved in music. I used to play the cello and I could feel a lot of things which were quite intense for me as a growing child-musically.


During Gautama Buddha’s time there’s the story of Kisa Gotami


Kiso Gotami was married to a wealthy man and had one son. One day, her Son passed away in her arms and she almost went mad with grief. She ran about desperately carrying her dead child, pleading with everyone to please bring her son back to life. An elderly gentleman who knew that only Gautama Buddha could help her, advised her to visit Him. She straightaway headed towards the Buddha’s dwelling.


She was in a real state. The Buddha told her, “To bring your child to life I need mustard seeds from a household where no one has died or experienced another’s death”. She started running from house to house. Eventually she gave up and realised what the Buddha was trying to teach her. That Death happens and no one is exempted from it.


The Buddha had taught her a valuable lesson


The first death which really caused me grief was when my pet Dachshund named Puggy died. She was much loved. I was about 13 years old then. I remember being inconsolable. I was distraught with grief. However, my mother, who was also crying at the time, told me gently, to let Puggy go. That she’d get me another pup. For a moment I stopped crying. I came to terms with Puggy’s death. I could let her go. And it was almost effortless.
I could’t contend with the griefs of losing my father and my maternal grandmother. Now as I write about how I came to terms with Puggy’s death, I realise that I have to apply that same understanding to the demise of my loved ones. 


I also have to come to terms with my own death one day. That’s probably going to be hard. It’s said that we are the most attached to our own selves. Leaving this “dwelling” or “abode”is going to be painful. 


With the onset of the Pandemic, I’ve been thinking much about death. Why did the Pandemic happen? What collective karma did we all do in past lives to have to experience this difficult period? Obviously, there’s a reason why we are experiencing this. According to Buddhism, there is a reason even for this. Before the pandemic the momentum which drove all our lives was so different. It was a society where each person  would wish and strive to excel professionally. However, now things have changed. We are struggling for survival. Our children are having online tutoring. People can’t get together. Before this pandemic everything was about winning and succeeding. 


So many have died from the CORONA-19 virus. Will the remaining people make it?


I had never experienced anything so profoundly life altering as my father’s death. He and I were buddies. He was my strongest support. He was also there for my mom. He’d take me for music rehearsals, concerts, classes and school until I completed my ALs. We did have our disagreements, but our bond was strong.


At his funeral, at the paansakula, I had to go out from where the Buddhist monks were chanting because I couldn’t bear to be there. I was outside alone, shaking like a leaf- not knowing why I was feeling like that. My husband came to my rescue and also a dear aunt. They held me while I shook. 


I couldn’t fulfill my grandmother’s request to play the “Air on G String” on my cello while her casket was being taken away. It was just too much for me. So we played a CD instead. However, Acchie (Grandmother) lifted off her request prior to her parting, as she knew it was going to be too difficult. I remember placing red rose petals on her chest before the coffin was closed and hugging her chest and telling her that I’ll always be the best sort of person she always wanted me to be. That I would hurt no one; forgiving just like she did.


People heal differently with grief and the same is true with coping.


For me it helped approaching my family members and friends and pouring my heart out. 


My one wish is that there will be a long and lasting solution to this pandemic and that we’d be able to get on with our lives and enjoy the company of other fellow human beings.


This is my one wish for humankind. 

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