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Thread: Graceful Exits; a recommendation

  1. #1

    Graceful Exits; a recommendation

    Friends,

    Forgive me if this book has been previously discussed. I highly recommend it. Sushila Blackman, a Hindu student, compiled and edited, "Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die-Death stories of Hindu, Tibetan, Buddhist, and Zen masters." Sadly, just a few months after this book was completed, Sushila passed away from advanced lung cancer and was not able to witness the book's completion. I would like to share with you a few snippets:

    ---
    Before he died, Hui-neng, the sixth Chinese patriarch of Zen, spoke these moving words of farewell:

    “Come close. In the 8th month I intend to leave this world. If any of you have doubts, ask them quickly, and I shall resolve them for you. I must bring your delusions to an end and make it possible for you to gain peace. After I have gone, there will be no one to teach you.”

    Deeply touched, all the disciples began to cry. Among them, Shen-hui alone remained unmoved. Hue-neng turned and spoke to him:

    “Shen-hui, you are a young monk, yet you have attained the status of awakening in which good and not good are identical, and you are not moved by judgment of praise and blame. You others have not yet understood...You’re crying just because you don’t know where I’m going. If you knew where I was going you wouldn’t be crying. Nature itself is without birth and without destruction, without going and without coming…”
    ---

    I know you are very ill. Like a good Zen student, you are facing that sickness squarely. You may not know exactly who is suffering, but question yourself; “What is the essence of this mind?” Think only of this. You will need no more. Covet nothing. Your end, which is endless, is as a snowflake dissolving in the pure air.

    -Bassui, addressing a dying disciple
    --

    When the tenth-century Chinese Zen Master name Dasui Fahzen was asked, “How are you at the time when life-death arrives?” he answered promptly, “When served tea, I take tea; when served a meal, I take a meal.”

    --
    Empty-handed I entered the world
    Barefoot I leave it.
    My coming, my going-
    Two simple happenings
    That got entangled.
    -Kozan Ichigyo; 14th century Zen monk
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  2. #2
    Idealizing how I die is iffy. It's going to be how it is... maybe like a spring breeze, maybe not. Good and not good are identical, but it is also true that good is good and not good is not good. When your stomach acid makes a final home in your throat, and your rectum has to me manually cleared of concrete, it is not so good. I can't be sure what my state of mind will be, .. the only thing for sure is it will be just what it is. Gassho Daizan
    大山

  3. #3
    Daizan,

    I agree. Idealizing how one dies is iffy. Hopefully, through our practice, we will meet that inevitable point as it presents itself.
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  4. #4
    A lot of Buddhist Ancestors' heroic deaths have been polished up, or made up, in the process of writing their legend after they died.

    Me? I will probably die asking if anyone got the license plate number of that bus, or begging the doctor for more morphine.

    I better write the "death poem" in advance, just in case, so it is handy when my disciples start to write my legend.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    I do, however, believe that an aspect of our Practice is a lifetime's mental preparation to be more accepting, perhaps thoroughly one and allowing, of the endless end.

    I was inspired this week by the story of San Francisco Zen Center Teacher Steve Myogen Stuckey, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer only a few days ago. As I hear the story told, no legend about it ...

    One of our Abbots was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. There is no stage 5, he said. He gave a dharma talk last night and sang Blind Lemon Jefferson's words:

    Feelin funny in my mind lord I believe I'm fixin to die
    Oh funny in my mind I believe I'm fixin' to
    I don't mind dying but I sure hate to leave my children crying

    ... Despite his pain and diagnosis, he'll continue to attend to Zen Center as he can, for as long as he can (3 months to 1 year). He said he was grateful for it all and that the practice of Zen would carry him through to the last moments of consciousness.

    He sat there like a mountain last night, big smile, like he swallowed the moon. He told us of his walk with Shodo Spring through South Dakota at Pine Ridge with the Lakota people. He remembered harvesting wheat when he was a boy. He reminded us of Dogen's poem: What can we liken the world to?Dew drops reflecting the moon, shaken of the beak of a heron.
    http://drizzleanddew.blogspot.jp/201...our-heart.html
    Let us sit for his Peaceful Transition.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-08-2013 at 06:40 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I do, however, believe that an aspect of our Practice is a lifetime's mental preparation to be more accepting, perhaps thoroughly one and allowing, of the endless end.

    I was inspired this week by the story of San Francisco Zen Center Teacher Steve Myogen Stuckey, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer only a few days ago. As I hear the story told, no legend about it ...



    Let us sit for his Peaceful Transition.

    Gassho, J
    Jundo,

    My memory may be errant, although I recall a conversation with you (possibly by email?), in which you stated that when your time comes, that perhaps you would sit, if possible, and stream it. Because that is reality. We come and we go. I thought there was significant beauty in that.

    I will sit tonight for Abbot's peaceful transition this evening.

    _/\_
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    I wonder how will I be when the time to depart comes for me.

    Will I have a heroic death? Will I have a death worth the Darwin Award?

    Who knows.

    All I have really is this second.

    Oh it just went away.

    Hey, here comes another one.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  8. #8
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Unfortunately Jundo, unlike many of your predecessors, we have a written a video record of exactly what you have said. It will take a good deal of polishing , but perhaps we can edit here and there.

    I am sure your last words will be" Lovely Lovely" or.. something like that

    Thanks for posting this sittingzen.


  9. #9
    Thank you for this sittingzen - for me, I didn't come into this world gracefully, so I will probably go out in the same manner ... but that is ok with me.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by sittingzen View Post
    Jundo,

    My memory may be errant, although I recall a conversation with you (possibly by email?), in which you stated that when your time comes, that perhaps you would sit, if possible, and stream it. Because that is reality. We come and we go. I thought there was significant beauty in that.
    Oh yes, that is my dream death! One last Sit-a-long. Like the Masters of old (many still today) have themselves propped up in the Lotus Posture for the final moments, and pass on while sitting. Such would make a powerful Teaching.

    Lighting would thunder, and the ground would shake, as a Halo appears in the clouds overhead. (In fact, this is much like the description for Trungpa Rinpoche. I will ask my students to mix a mild hallucinogenic or some massive fire crackers in with the burning wood for a similar effect on the crowd ... )

    When the cremation fire was near its peak, there was one point in the ceremony when the audience was asked not to take pictures. I started paying closer attention to the ceremony. At the climax of the ceremony Trungpa Rinpoche's astral body exploded. This was a flash of white light, like the first flash of an atom bomb. Then this cloud of light slowly ascended upwards.

    I was still in awe of this when people started talking about rainbows being seen on a blue sky day. As I breathed in the essence, literally as I smelled his burning body. I knew that I was blessed.
    http://chronicleproject.com/brief32.html
    ... whereupon various bits of bone and gall stones (there should be more then enough) are dug from the ashes as sacred relics to be distributed among all of you. Maybe you could dip me in gold and keep me on the Altar, like some do (there are dozens of the fellows in China, Korea and Japan too ... pictures a bit graphic) ...

    http://www.thaibuddhist.com/the-mumm...monk-in-samui/
    http://www.lookatvietnam.com/2009/12...explained.html
    http://www.wa-pedia.com/religion/jap..._mummies.shtml

    But, anyway, I see no reason to plan my "dream death" and when it comes, today or somewhere down the road, such will be what it will be.

    To be serious for a moment, I have told my wife that I do not wish one of the elaborate Buddhist funerals like they typically have here in Japan, by families worried that a failure to do so dooms Grandpa to Hades. Send me over for a cheap cremation, dump some of me under the persimmon tree in the back yard, some on Tsukuba mountain. I would ask Taigu and my students to have some short joyful celebration here at Treeleaf, all online of course. That celebration should center on Just Sitting.

    That is all that is needed. Each moment someone sits will be a celebration.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-09-2013 at 03:12 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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  12. #12
    A couple of Koans that come to mind ...

    Great Master Matsu was sick.

    The temple superintendent asked him: Teacher, how is you're
    venerable health these days.

    The Great Master said: Sun face buddha; moon face buddha.
    Matsu died a few days later. The story is that the sun face buddha lives 1800 years, and the moon face buddha lives for a night and a day. It's a legend from an old sutra. My interpretation? There are sunny days, there is the coming of night, there is human measures of "long time" and "short" ... all Buddha.

    Another Koan, also from the Blue Cliff Record:

    Dogo and Zen-gen went to a house [where a funeral was being conducted] to show sympathy. Zen-gen hit the coffin and asked, "Alive or dead?" Dogo replied, "I won't say alive, I won't say dead." Zen-gen demanded, " Why won't you say?" Dogo repeated, "I won't say." On their way home, Zen-gen cried, "Tell me right now teacher, alive or dead; if you don't tell me, I will hit you." Dogo said, "You may hit me, but I won't say." Zen-gen hit him.

    Later after Dogo died, Zen-gen went to Seki-so and told him the foregoing story. Seki-so said, "I won't say alive, and I won't say dead." Zen-gen said, " Why won't you say?" Seki-so repeated, "I won't say, I won't say." At these words Zen-gen came to awakening.

    One day, Zen-gen took a hoe into the Buddha hall and crossed back and forth, from east to west and west to east. Seki-so asked, "What are you doing?" Zen-gen said," I am looking for my teacher's relics." Seki-so said, "Vast waves spread far and wide, foaming billows flood the skies - what relics of our late master are you looking for?"

    Zen-gen said, "It is a way of repaying the kindness of my old teacher." Fu of T'ai Yuan said, "The late masters relics are still present. "
    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    I just saw this online. Will be good to know. What happens if you forget to change the batteries?


    Now there's a watch that can predict your death to the nearest SECOND
    The Tikker watch asks a set of questions about a wearer's medical history
    Their age is subtracted from the results to get the estimated death date
    Countdown then begins shown in years, days, hours, minutes and seconds
    Creator claims it will help people make the most of the time they have left

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...own-death.html
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Senior Member JeffreyB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I just saw this online. Will be good to know. What happens if you forget to change the batteries?



    Oh dear. Haha Reminds me of that movie "In Time", good flick.
    Gassho, Jeffrey
    "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
    Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  15. #15
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I don't have that watch, but I'm wearing it.
    迎 Geika

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Youse guys are startin' to sound like "A Week-end at Bernie's"
    That last koan should be sub-titled Schrodinger's Cat.



    my Embalming Professor always said he wanted to die at age 90 from gunshot wounds inflicted by a jealous husband.

    i am always amused to see a death notice that reads; "Died suddenly at age 90+" (OMG, it took him 90 years!!)

    btw, that wasn't the Rinpoche's Astral Body, it was his pacemaker

    ( 悪いけど~ Mara made me do it!!
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    I don't have that watch, but I'm wearing it.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    A lot of Buddhist Ancestors' heroic deaths have been polished up, or made up, in the process of writing their legend after they died.

    Me? I will probably die asking if anyone got the license plate number of that bus, or begging the doctor for more morphine.

    I better write the "death poem" in advance, just in case, so it is handy when my disciples start to write my legend.

    Gassho, J


    I guess I'm not a disciple , but I do respect you and appreciate you being on this planet very much. so.. can I write your legend? pleeeease? That would be a blast.

    Daizan
    大山

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    I guess I'm not a disciple , but I do respect you and appreciate you being on this planet very much. so.. can I write your legend? pleeeease? That would be a blast.

    Daizan
    You can paint my official portrait. Something like this ...



    ... or this ...



    ... or maybe this ...



    ... or some combination!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-09-2013 at 02:49 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    or like the most noble, Buddha-Piggie

    Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 11.02.04 AM.jpg
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Daizan;

    I quickly took a few poses from the archives for you to work with.

    J1.jpg * J2.jpg * J3.jpg

    Sorry, i didn't get the shower cap one.

    gassho,
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    This is a classic.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  23. #23
    ...... but we can't leave out the shower cap one


    Willow

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