Monday, February 16, 2009

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

You don't have to read this post, or believe what it says. I just wanted to tell the story for the records, that's all.

Last Sunday was the 6th week ceremony/prayer session at the pagoda. As you know, I'm a very skeptical Buddhist and I consider these types of ceremony as superstition at worst and as kabuki/theater at best. As soon as I arrive at the pagoda, I bow three times in front of the huge Buddha statue to show my respect for the Buddha's teaching, but after that, I don't participate in the chanting. I go through the motions: bow, stand up, sit down, etc. with the crowd, but otherwise I just sit there and meditate or daydream until the end of the service.

But last Sunday, as the chanting was droning on, I was falling half asleep when suddenly two powerful waves of cold went down my spine, making me shudder violently. I sat up, wide awake, but nothing else was out of the ordinary, so I stopped paying attention again. Later on, the families of the deceased went in a smaller room in the back for a special ceremony. That's when the thought suddenly hit me that next week will be the seventh and last week, and that I will never be back at this pagoda again, except once a year to visit my mother's urn. I was struck with an acute sense of loss and I started crying, the first time I cried since my mother's death. Then, I just KNEW that my mother's spirit has finally left the intermediary bardo and that she's on her way to a future life. I KNEW that the shuddering I felt before was my mother's final embrace before she left and her way of saying goodbye.

Elvis has definitely left the building.

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