This is the day that Shakyamuni Buddha died near the town of Kushinagara on the banks of the Hiranyavati River. A big scroll depicting the Buddha entering Nirvana is hung and a ceremony expressing our gratitude to the Buddha is performed. The Sanskrit term ‘Nirvana’ literally means ‘extinction, the extinction of the worldly illusions and passions.’ Wherever the extinction of illusions and passions is being achieved, there will be a calm and peaceful Nirvana, but the term which applies to this particular day means the death of the Buddha Shakyamuni.
It is said that at the time of his death the Buddha was sleeping on a bed that had been prepared between two sala trees; his head to the north, his face to the west, and his right hand for a pillow. At that time, white flowers bloomed on the sala trees and fell continuously. The story is related how many of his disciples, men and women of all ages, and even birds and animals gathered, sighing with sadness. The Buddha gave his last discourse, expounding the fundamental truth – even though the physical body dies, the Dharma is unbounded by time; in order to see the Buddha, it is simply necessary to see the Dharma. In this way, he taught his disciples the Precepts and the way they should maintain the practice of Buddha’s Way. This sermon is called the Yuikyogyo, the Last Teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha (or "Sutra of the Last Teaching Bequeathed by the Buddha"). He passed away at the age of 80 and entered into "Mahaparinirvana", that which cannot be truly "entered" or "departed", the absolute free state of Enlightenment.
Though marking events of some 25 centuries ago and far away, the moment is truly beyond count or time, found here and all places.
And so, might we encounter our lost loved ones and friends as neither gone nor far away, beyond time ... found here and all places ...