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The Teachings Of Great Master Yin Guang

Whether one is a layperson or has left the home- life, one should respect elders and be harmonious to those surrounding him. One should endure what others cannot, and practice what others cannot achieve

 

The Sweetest Smile Yet

As we come to the end of our treatise on Loving and Dying, I should make it clear that I do not at all claim to be an authority on living, loving or dying. But I have tried to share some thoughts on the subject with you, thoughts about how to live and die with love and understanding all along the way

 

A World Of Anomalies

Reading the newspapers and newsmagazines can give us much food for reflection. Besides the orbituaries, there are grim reminders of uffering all over the world, though we may have become quite numbed to it.

 

Contemplation On Death

While we are alive it is good to contemplate on death now and then. In fact it is good to do it daily. The Buddha recommends frequent contemplation on death because there are many benefits to be gained from such contemplation. Let's look at how we can benefit in contemplating on death.

 

Our Death Should Be Serene

All of us have to die one day. Our death should be serene and peaceful. Therefore when someone is about to die we should make it as serene and beautiful for him or her as possible. Yes, are you surprised that death can be beautiful? If you are, it is because we normally have dosa or aversion towards death. There is fear of pain and the uncertainty of what is to come after death. Then there is attachment to our loved ones which gives rise to much pain in our heart in having to part with them.

 

We Are Our Own Saviours

Sometimes as a monk I'm asked to go for funeral chanting. I do feel sorry for the bereaved ones but sometimes I also feel quite helpless because there is so much confusion as regards the role of a monk in funeral chanting.

 

Loving Is Understanding

o die well we must live well. If we have lived well we can die well. There will be no regrets. We can go peacefully, content that we have done what we could, that along the way we have spread understanding and happiness, that we have lived according to our principles and commitment to the ideals of love and compassion.

 

We Must Do Our Bit

Earlier I said that when I saw the sick, the dying and the dead, two resolutions arose in my mind. One is to be able to take pain and death with a smile, to be able to remain mindful and composed to the very end. Now I wish to touch on my second resolution.

 

Tribute To Kuai Chan

'd like to tell you about a brave yogi who died peacefully from lung cancer with the word, Nibbana, on her lips. Her name is Kuai Chan and she passed away on December 18,1992 at her home in Kuala Lumpur.

 

Coping With Disease The Right Attitude

We should not look on disease and suffering as something which will destroy us completely, and thereby giving in to despair and despondency. On the contrary, we (ie. in the case of Buddhists) can look upon it as a test of how well we have understood the Buddha's teachings, how well we can apply the understanding we have supposedly learnt.

 

Two Resolutions

As I'm writing now, I recall that just yesterday a fellow monk died. He had been suffering from terminal cancer for eight months. When I was by his side at the hospital a few days before his death, he was in pain. I tried to feed him some broth but he could not eat. He looked quite gaunt and grim. He could hardly speak.

 

Hello Death Goodbye Life

One day when I die, as I must, I'd like to die with a smile on my lips. I'd like to go peacefully, to greet death like a friend, to be able to say quite cheerfully: "Hello Death, Goodbye Life."

 

Preface

I have written this book to share some thoughts on death with anybody who may care to read it. Thoughts about how we can go about facing death - with courage and equanimity. With dignity. And if you like with a smile. Thoughts about how to cope with suffering, to live with wisdom and compassion, or with as much of it as we can muster, until we die.

 

Acknowledgement

I am very much indebted to: Santivara for all his hard work in doing the layout and design of this book; and to Tuck Loon for his cover art and illustrations.

 

Tribute To Kuai Chan

Thứ tư - 25/09/2013 03:09
Last Minute

Last Minute

'd like to tell you about a brave yogi who died peacefully from lung cancer with the word, Nibbana, on her lips. Her name is Kuai Chan and she passed away on December 18,1992 at her home in Kuala Lumpur.
Loving and Dying
 

By Visuddhacara


Illustration by Hor Tuck  Loon





TRIBUTE TO KUAI CHAN


I'd like to tell you about a brave yogi who died peacefully from lung cancer with the word, Nibbana, on her lips. Her name is Kuai Chan and she passed away on December 18,1992 at her home in Kuala Lumpur. She was 43. Her husband, Billy, told me how she coped with the disease. Finding the account most
inspiring, especially for yogis (meditators), I asked him for permission to relate it in this book, and I thank him for agreeing to it.

Kuai Chan was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 1989. At that time she had already practised Vipassana meditation for about a year. She took the diagnosis calmly. "My wife accepted that it was her kamma*," said Billy. "She did not blame anybody or anything. She was not bitter nor did she fall into any depression. She was remarkably steady and remained quite so till her death." Kuai Chan underwent an operation to remove the affected breast. Then after three months she had to be operated upon again when the cancer cells were found to be still growing in the area. After that she underwent radio- and chemo-
therapy with minimal side-effects. Throughout her treatment for her breast cancer, and in the last six months of her life after she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, she declined to take any pain medication. "She didn't want any painkillers," said Billy. "Even when the pain was excruciating, she refused to take any paindrugs, not even a panadol. She was a very determined person, very strong and admirable."

Her decision to go without the pain medication was because she wanted to keep her mind as clear and alert as possible. She was a yogi, and all yogis value their mindfulness. They wouldn't want any drugs that can dull their mind and impair their meditation. So if they can take on the pain they would do so. Kuai
Chan was prepared to face the pain, so she declined the painkillers. She only agreed to the radio- and chemo-therapy for her breast cancer because they might have led to a cure. But later when she had lung cancer and was told that it was terminal, she declined the radio- and chemo-therapy recommended by a
hospital for alleviating her suffocation. And when a doctor offered to administer pain medication, such as morphine, she rejected it too.

Billy said that in her first bout with the breast cancer, Kuai Chan had little problem with the pain she felt after the operation. As a yogi, she was able to note the pain quite well and it would disappear. But the lung cancer was a real ordeal for her. The pain was terribly acute at times but still she refused drugs. There were
times she just collapsed and lay prostrate on the floor when the pain struck. But still she held on. She also had a wracking cough which persisted for many days and nights. Billy was by her side  and when she could not sleep night after night, he tried to soothe her pain and cough by rubbing ointment, massaging and other traditional remedies. He took her to see Chinese physicians and obtained many kinds of herbs and brewed them for her to drink.

Billy said it was Kuai Chari's faith and meditation that enabled her to face her suffering with a remarkable degree of serenity and composure. Both of them had meditated with Venerable Sujiva at a Retreat in Taiping in 1988. Subsequently Kuai Chan continued to attend regular Retreats at the Venerable's
Santisukharama hermitage at Kota Tinggi, Johor.     

When she was diagnosed with lung cancer after a coughing spell in July 1992, the doctor gave her one month to live. Showing Kuai Chan and Billy the x-ray, he pointed out how the cancer had spread all over the lungs. He even expressed surprise that Kuai Chan could still be walking around and looking quite healthy, given the condition of her cancer-ravaged lungs. But the doctor didn't know that Kuai Chan had a mind of steel. She survived for six months. For her then it was not so much a battle to stay alive as to die with dignity. When she and Billy saw me at the Wisdom Centre in Petaling Jaya where I was visiting in July, they asked what could they do. I told them: What could a yogi do b~t meditate! If I were her I would meditate to the very end, I said, They were encouraged and Kuai Chai was determined then to spend the rest of her days meditating in her home. Billy said he would support her all the way. But she didn't reckon the pain could be so terrible. She told Billy s~e never knew there could be such pain. It was especially severe III her lower back, burning and cutting into her. She ummoned all her mental strength to note the pain but still she would lose out. It was too much. There were times when she ould only lay there helpless without being able to note the pain anymore. She was sheerly enduring. But she would not take any paindrugs. She consulted her meditation teacher Ven Sujiva who advised her to do metta (loving-kindness) and in-breath out-breath meditation to soothe the pain when she could not tolerate1 it anymore. This gave her some relief. Coming out from such relief, she could continue her vipassana meditation. One day after three weeks of battling with persistent pain, she had a unique experience. She told Billy that while noting the sharp pain, she observed it becoming finer and finer until it vividly disappeared. She said she felt as if all her senses were cut off, as if there was no nama-rupa (mind and body) at that moment, that her mind and body had disappeared together with the pain. She told Billy she felt that this was like a Nibbanic experience, and she felt a great joy came over her. After that experience, she never encountered that kind of excruciating pain anymore.

Ten days before her end, Billy admitted her to a private hospital as she was having difficulty breathing. The doctors put her on oxygen. X-rays showed that the cancer cells had spread. further, aggravating the suffocation. That was when radio- and chemo-therapy was suggested, not as a possible cure but merely
to alleviate the condition. But Kuai Chan didn't want her mind to lose its clarity, and so rejected the suggestion. After five days she asked Billy to take her home as she felt there was no longer any reason for her to stay in the hospital. Billy installed an oxygen tank in their home, took her back and put her on the oxygen to
alleviate her breathing difficulty. For the next five days from December 13 to her death on Dec. 18, she seemed to be in some kind of sleep, waking up only now and then. Two days before her death, she could still remember her daughter's 17th birthday which fell on Dec. 17. She reminded Billy to boil two eggs for
their daughter and to give her a red packet, which he did. On Dec. 18 she woke up at about 9am with a smile. She asked: "Have I been sleeping?" Billy replied: "Yes, it's been five days already. Don't you know?" She was surprised . She appeared happy and was smiling. She said she didn't need to take herbal medicines anymore. She again remembered her daughter's birthday, and although Billy told her he had already given their daughter a red packet as instructed, she told him again: "Give her another ang-pow on my behalf."

At about 2pm, Billy said, Kuai Chan tried to say something to him but was too weak to speak. Billy reminded her to maintain a detached frame of mind, not to worry about him and the children, and to feel free to go peacefully. He said they had discussed this many times before, that if she should be cured it is good; but if that is not possible, it is all right also: she should be able to go gracefully, understanding the law of kamma, that all of us must separate one day.

At 3pm when her son, aged 15, returned from school and announced to her: "Mother, I am back," she understood although she could not speak. She nodded her head to indicate that she knew.

At about 3.30pm, Billy said, Kuai Chan managed with some  effort to say very distinctly in Cantonese, Woh yap niphoon, which literally means "I have entered Nibbana," which means to say she believed she had alized or experienced Nibbana. And she pointed to her a omen. That was her last words, and she passed away peacefully about 45 minutes later. Billy said Kuai Chan, in her meditation, usually observed the rising and falling motion the abdomen that occurred with every in- and out- breat . She found the abdominal rising and falling a good object to place her mind upon, and she used to encourage other yogis to stick to that object too. Whatever phenomena in the body or mind one applies one's mindfulness and concentration upon, one would eventually see the arising and dissolution of the phenomena and come to understand their impermanence, unsatisfactory and no- self nature. Such understanding can climax in the attainment of  Nibbana, a state of cessation of suffering. Defilements of greed, hatred and delusion are totally eradicated when Nibbana is  experienced at the arahant level**.

Billy said that as her end approached, Kuai Chan's face took on a kind of radiance, and when she spoke, her eyes were bright and clear. At about 4.15pm, Billy noticed that she had stopped breathing. "She looked very peaceful, very serene. She passed away very peacefully," said Billy. At about 4pm that day, a Dhamma friend, Lily, who was staying about 25 km away in Petaling Jaya, had a sudden desire to radiate metta (loving-kindness) to Kuai Chan. Lily sat down to meditate, sending out thoughts of metta to Kuai Chan. And she said she had a "crystal-clear" vision of Kuai Chan, who looked serene. When she stopped her meditation, she looked at the clock.  It was 4.15pm, at about the same time Kuai Chan had passed away.

Dying the way she did, it is clear that Kuai Chan had a good death. What better way to go than this - with her mind intent on Nibbana. Who can say what unique experience she might have undergone? Only she can know. But one thing is certain, her mind was even, to the last, inclined to Nibbana. I would like to think that she had attained her Nibbana. If she had not done so in this life, I would think that with her mind, being so firm and resolute, she would have undergone a good rebirth as a human being or de va (a celestial being) and would attain her cherished goal in that life.

As a Buddhist, she had instructed Billy to give her a very simple funeral, devoid of superflous rites and rituals. According to her desire, Billy arranged for her cremation the following day. Several Buddhist monks, yogis and friends recited Buddhist suttas. It was all very simple, as she had requested. Billy collected
her ashes and had them strewn at the bodhi tree at their teacher's meditation hermitage in Johor. Recollecting their life together, Billy said Kuai Chan was the
best wife he could ask for: "We were married for 22 years and she stood by me through thick and thin, through my many trials and tribulations. She had a cheerful and bright disposition. She was always loving and caring. Even when she was ill she was marvellous. She never complained. She was not depressed. There was no anger or bitterness in her. She remained calm and steady. She could still smile and laugh. She accepted all her suffering
with grace. She would say that it was only her body that was sick but not her mind. Her mind was still fine and healthy. Her concern too was not for herself but for others. She said that if she could live ten years longer, she would do more Dhamma work. She was concerned too about me and the children.

"In fact, she took her suffering better than I did. I could not bear to see her in so much pain. I tried to get her all the best herbs in the hope of a cure or some respite. Sometimes I asked why all this should happen to her. And I thought: Let her live 10 years more and 110 years less. Let me give her 10 years of my
life. But of course that's not for us to say. It's kamma that has the last say.

"She used to tell me: 'It's my kamma, Billy. It's all right. I do not know what I might have done in my past lives. I must accept my kamma.' Sometimes she would say: 'I'm so sorry I give you all this trouble, Billy, all this suffering. You know, Billy, I owe you a lot in this life.' I would tell her not to say like that. She doesn't
owe me anything, I said. We are husband and wife, are we not? - and she has been a great wife to me. We have gone through thick and thin together, and now in her hour of need, I shall be by her side. We shall sink or swim together, I told her, I assured her.

"At other times she would tell me: 'Billy, this is the true teaching, the true path, I am very convinced of that,' and she reminded me not to neglect my practice of meditation, not to be complacent but to practise hard. We had been searching for some time for a teaching that we could relate to. And when we came
across Buddhism and Vipassana meditation in 1988, we took to it. You know, we used to discuss the Dhamma together every night over a cup of tea. We had a great relationship."

Kuai Chan's cousin, Sati, once asked her whether she had any fear of the cancer, and she said no, she was not afraid of the disease. She was prepared to take on the pain without drugs. She was truly a heroic yogi, one who in the face of great odds, still persevered in her practice of the Dhamma. She made me wonder if I, as a monk, were to be in her condition, to have cancer, would I be able to bear up that much, to have that much courage and endurance? She is truly an inspiring example, a teacher by example to us all. I must thank Billy for foregoing his privacy to share with us this inspiring account so that we too can be encouraged in our practice and be more determined to strive harder.

Billy asked me to put on record his gratitude to Ven Sujiva and other monks and yogis for all the kind assistance they have given him and Kuai Chan. Fellow yogis from the Buddhist Wisdom Centre, PJ, had especially given much moral support and encouragement to Kuai Chan throughout her sickness. "I do not
know how to express my gratitude to all the people who had helped us. Please tell them I wish to thank them all, to say: 'Thank you. Thank you very much for everything you all have done for Kuai Chan."

-----------------------------------

* Kamma is the natural law of cause and effect, or action and result. It works on the principle that good begets good and bad begets bad. So if we have done something bad in a previous life, the result of the evil deed may take place in this life. For example, one who kills a lot, will, if reborn as a human, have a short life. For a good explanation of kamma see The Buddha and his Teachings by
Narada, Buddhist Missionary Society (BMS). Malaysia; Pg 333ft.
[Back]

**As an experience of the cessation of conditioned phenomena during meditation, Nibbana can be experienced at four stages of sainthood. Although the experience of Nibbana as cessation of conditioned phenomena is the same at all four stages, Nibbana having only one "taste," that is the "taste" of peace, the results in terms of eradication of mental defilements are, however, different at each of the four stages.

At the first stage of a sotapanna (stream-winner), greed and hatred are dramatically weakened but not totally eliminated. These two defilements have been weakened to the extent that the sotapanna could no more break the five precepts of not killing (even an insect), not stealing or cheating, not committing sexual misconduct such as adultery, not lying, and not taking alcohol and drugs. At the second stage of a sakadagami (once-returner), the defilements are further weakened. At the third stage of an anagami (non-returner), sensual desire and hatred/anger are completely eliminated. But there is still a subtle trace of ignorance and desire of a non-sensual nature, ie. desire for rebirth in the non-sensual brahma heavenly realm. At the fourth stage of an arahant (a full saint), all desire/greed and ignorance are eliminated. The arahant lives his last life, there being no more rebirth for him.

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