Death and grief and loss......
- From: "Evelyn Ruut" <evelyn.ruut@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2007 18:31:32 -0400
Since the discussion of death and grief and loss seems to be getting a bit excitable, I thought this might be a good tale to share now. It exemplifies exactly the kind of selfish and out of control grief that Keynes was mentioning, and it also shows perfectly how the buddha himself dealt with it.
When the Buddha was alive, a young mother named Kisa Gotami lost her only
child. We all can understand how terrifying it would be for any mother to
see her child die. Because of her intense love and affection for the child,
she lost her mind. In that state, she believed that the child was just ill,
and she was determined to find a cure. She carried the body on her shoulder
and roamed the city, asking each person she met to heal her child. A wise
man who understood her distorted emotions sent her to the Buddha.
Holding the corpse in her arms, she arrived at a beautiful park where the
Buddha was teaching. The moment she saw the Buddha, she appealed to Him to
heal the child. The Buddha compassionately understood her emotional state.
Without mentioning anything about a cure, the Buddha said, "Your child has
died, but before I do anything about it, please go and collect some mustard
seeds from a house where no one has ever died."
Happily she thanked the Buddha and took off on her mission. Her mind now
filled with hope, she went from house to house asking for mustard seeds.
Every house she went to had mustard seeds, but she could not find a single
house where there had been no death. Eventually the truth dawned on her.
The grief and the pain of losing her beloved child faded away.
She understood her own insanity. That deep awareness of death brought her
not only emotional healing of her personal trauma but also an understanding
of the true nature of life. The awareness of death gave her a sense of
peace and harmony. She properly disposed of the corpse of her child and
came back to the Buddha.
The Buddha knew of her transformation. He counseled her and delivered a
dharma discourse on the nature of things. Inspired by the wisdom of the
teachings, she asked the Buddha to ordain her as a nun. After becoming a
nun, she meditated on death and, realizing the impermanent nature of all
existence, she attained enlightenment.
For twenty-five hundred years, Kisa Gotami has been one of the most famous
enlightened nuns in Buddhist history. All the Buddhist children in Sri
Lanka learn her life story. When I learned it, I was about eight years old.
It is a story that I have heard many times. Each time I hear it and
contemplate its message of impermanence, death, and the implications that
follow, it adds another layer of profoundness to the
meaning of life. For this woman, the move from ignorance to complete
awareness of the truth of her child's death brought liberation and
We too must train ourselves to awaken to the profound lessons about the
realities of life that are hidden within the experience of death. These
lessons are waiting to lift us from the grief that is sapping our energy;
they are there to nurture us and to make our continuing journey, and that of
those around us, joyous and meaningful. To realize this, we need to go
beyond the pain of our emotions and let a spark of truth touch our
hearts, as it did Kisa Gotami's. After all, wouldn't that also be a
beautiful gift to give to our departed ones?
This quote was taken from:
LESSONS OF THE LOTUS
Practical Spiritual Teachings of a Traveling Buddhist Monk
-By Bhante Y. Wimala-
Published by Bantam Books
Copyright 1997 by Bhante Y. Wimala
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