November 26, 2014

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Death of an Extended Sangha Member

Yin De on Thursday, July 11 2013, 02:23 AM
One of my disciples, Zheng Gong (a.k.a. Carole) passed away this week. We had been corresponding for ~10 years. She knew it was coming and was conscious as her disease progressed. While she was saddened by the thought of missing important milestones that her grandchildren would experience, she was not overcome by fear or dread. I think this is attributable to her Zen practice.

Question: How might you respond to a disciple or Dharma friend who tells you she has a terminal illness? What might you say to her upon hearing that news?

This is one of the last messages she sent to me:

"Just wanted you to know I am still practicing. It took me several years to "get it". I had to give up so many "beliefs" and opinions. Yikes! especially opinions - which I am still working on. I am also working on being a better listener, and what I call "Irritation as a Spiritual Exercise" - to not get irritated, and to not irritate anyone. Thanks to you, the world looks way different to me. I have a much greater appreciation for everyone and everything, and just "see" things different than before. There is no going back. The bell has been rung. And I love it. And I loved my life.
c "
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  • Replied by Administrator on Thursday, July 11 2013, 03:14 AM
    I have had many friends and acquaintances die, and go through the transition of dying. For some it has been fast. For others, very slow. And frankly, I am always left without words. Unless we ourselves are going through it, how can we possibly connect with the mind of one who knows he or she is dying? We will be in the world of speculation and imagination. It is simply impossible. We will each be there one day and understand. But as one who is not there, listening to one who "is there", they are the teacher, we are the pupil.

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