Dharma Topic: Loss and Transformation

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Dear Still Water Friends,

July 20, 2005

Dear friends,

Several members of the Still Water community have beendealing with the loss of loved ones in their families over the past severalmonths. As a community, we’re also dealing with cherished community members whoare moving or have gone back home. So this week, we’re going to discuss how todeal with loss and transformation.

It’s a topic that can’t help but touch our hearts. Hopefullythese experiences can help us see how connected we all are to life instead ofmaking us withdraw into sorrow. In this tradition of Buddhism, death is seen asa transformation of life, not the end of it, just as birth is a transformationof life, not the beginning of it. Our practice is to see that we truly are notlimited by our bodies, and that we are, as Thay says, "life withoutboundaries." The Contemplation on No-Coming, No-Going from the PlumVillage Chanting and Recitation Book states this beautifully:

This body is not me.
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.

Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,
manifestations from my wondrous true mind.

Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,
sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.

So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say good-bye,
say good-bye,
to meet again soon.

We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

This Thursday, we’ll discuss how we deal with loss andtransformation. We hope you can be there to share your experiences and tosupport other community members as they share their experiences. Mitchell isaway, so Patti and Scott will facilitate the discussion. A reading from NoDeath, No Fear below provides a wonderful perspective on the topic. We lookforward to sharing Thursday evening with you.

Patti and Scott

From No Death, No Fear:

It is real and deep wisdom to learn to look at things interms of manifestation. If someone who is very close to you has passed away andyou define him or her as non-existing, you are mistaken. From nothing cannot beborn something. From no one cannot be born someone. From something you cannotbecome nothing. From some one you cannot become no one. That is the truth. Ifthe person who is close to you does not manifest in the form that you are usedto seeing or perceiving, that does not mean that he is non-existing. It does notmean that he is no longer there. If you look deeply, you can touch his or herpresence in other forms of manifestation.

One day I took the hand of a young father who had justburied his little son. I invited him to walk with me to discover his son inother forms.

His son had come to Plum Village when he was very young andlearned to enjoy vegetarian food. He gave me his allowance and extra pocketmoney and asked me to buy a plum tree and plant it for him. He wanted toparticipate in the work of supporting hungry children in the world by planting afruit tree in Plum Village. He knew that a plum tree gives lots of fruit. Heknew that we could sell the fruit and send the money to hungry children in thethird world. He learned to do walking and sitting meditation and practiced thedharma very well. When he was sick, I went to Bordeaux and visited him at thehospital. He said to me "Grandpa monk, I will do walking meditation foryou." He got down from his bed, although he was quite weak, and walkedbeautifully for me. Shortly after my visit, he died. The day of his cremation, Isprinkled consecrated water and chanted the Heart Sutra for him. A week later Itook the hand of his father during walking meditation and showed him manymanifestations of his little boy. Together, we visited the plum tree I plantedfor his son, and as we sat in the afternoon light, we saw his little boy wavingto us from every bud and branch.

Looking deeply into reality, you can discover many things.You can surmount so much suffering and counter many wrong perceptions. If we canabide peacefully in the ultimate dimension, we will not drown in the ocean ofsuffering, grief, fear and despair.