August 28, 2004
So, my mom died. Hit by a car while riding her motorcycle.
My Buddhist beliefs really became apparent when people saw I was not crying over her death.
Actually, I was happy for her. She completed this life and is on to the next one. She made it! She passed through one more hoop on her way to enlightenment. I was excited for her to be moving on and happy for her accomplishments in this life.
I naturally took an optimistic view. But no one knew my views except Matt. I only felt comfortable telling him. I tried to tell my sister a little bit about how I feel, but I don’t think she wanted to hear it.
She and everyone else were very sad. People were crying.
I did not cry. Heck, I expect to see her within the next couple years—her reincarnate, that is—so I’m not upset.
Since my sister is also a new Buddhist, I thought she would understand. But I think everyone assumed that to not cry means that I hated the deceased. But this is not so.
PARABLE: A FARMER’S SON DIES
Matt was reading a book on the history of Buddhism and he found a little story:
A farmer was working in the fields with his son. His son was bitten by a poisonous snake and died. Unmoved, the farmer carried his son’s body to the foot of a tree and went back to plowing until it was time for his noon meal. He sent word back to his wife to send only one meal instead of two. His wife understood immediately what had happened. She took perfume and flowers to his body, which was prepared for cremation.
The family stood around the flaming pyre, without any display of emotion, causing Indra, the chief of the gods, who happened to be passing by, to ask whether they were roasting an animal. When he was told it was a human body in the fire, Intra asked if he had been an enemy. Told that it was not an enemy but the farmer’s son, Intra commented that the boy must not have been loved by his father. The father assured him that the boy had been very dear to him.
When Indra asked why, then, he did not weep, the farmer replied that the boy had suffered his fate and that lamenting could not restore him. When asked why she did not weep, the mother said, “As children cry in vain to grasp the moon above, so mortals idly mourn the loss of those they love. No friends’ lament can touch the ashes of the dead. Why should I grieve? He fares the way he had to tread.”
To many westerners, the family of the boy would seem cold, almost as if burying emotions we think they should have.
PERHAPS WAIT FOR LATER
I think some people thought this of me especially because I used to bury emotions. But now, with Buddhism, I’ve learned to control my emotions, that’s all (or at least, I’m trying to control them).
My dad’s reaction to my actions was that of anger. With all the work I’ve done to get rid of negative emotions, it is difficult to see him throw anger at me.
I feel like he doesn’t understand me. But he cannot understand me unless we talk and he gets to know me for who I am today. He only remembers who I used to be.
However, I have remained distant and have not talked about my beliefs because I have not yet seen the signs of acceptance, patience and an open mind that are required (I think) to understand where I’m coming from.
This is not to say he can’t do these things. I just need to stay away from people who think my Buddhist beliefs are a crazy joke. And as long as I think he feels that way, I will stay distant.
So what might be the solution? I will remain patient until he develops those skills. I would offer to teach him, but I think he’d rather learn from someone who is older. I think many people have a difficult time learning from those who are significantly younger. Plus, I think I’m still a child in his eyes.
I will wait. Perhaps he will not learn these things in this life. So I will wait for the next life.