Death of a loved one disturbs the relationships that sustain a person’s sense of ‘identity’ and the high level of binding and cathexis concentrated on the person who is lost is suddenly disrupted . . . there is a close link between the doctrines of egolessness and suffering.
De Silva, Padmasiri. An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology. Landam, MD, 2000.
Through this lens of Buddhist thought, I begin to feel a crumbling of a child’s self with an understanding of how my father’s absolute and final absence from our lives disrupted the multiple relationships between my father, mother, sister, and me. Besides the sudden severing of the identity I was forming via my father, the connecting emotional threads between those of us that were left, although still intact, were unknowingly stretched and pulled by our own individual fears of egolessness.
My father’s death left my mother, a young woman deaf from infancy, with two daughters and pregnant with her first son. I do not recall whose idea it was to wander outside the house early that morning as my mother slept. I can, however, imagine my young self following my older sister as if an invisible thread that tied us together tugged me along as she, with her five-year-old world view, undertook an emotional duty to find our father. Did we believe we could find him fly fishing in the creek that ran alongside the house? Or was there something about the water that enticed us into abandoning our search? I can recall to this day the cessation of anxiety and arising rapture that coincided with my surrender to the inevitable. Two young men, I am told, rescued us both from this search for our father.
Koeford, BC. A Meditative Journey with Saldage Homesickness for a place, a time, a person that cannot be
“My right hand does a lot of things–it creates calligraphy and writes poems. Nearly all my poems have been written with my right hand because I don’t use a typewriter. There was only one time when I wrote a poem on a typewriter. When inspiration came to me, I did not have a pen at hand so I just put an envelope into the typewriter, and at that time my left hand participated. All the rest of my poems were written with my right hand alone, yet my right hand never says to the left hand, ‘You, you are good for nothing! You don’t do calligraphy, you don’t write poems. I do all the work, you never do anything!’
“The body never discriminates in this way. Don’t think that this is because our bodies do not possess any inherent intelligence. While trying to hang a picture on the wall, I held the nail in my left hand and hammered with the right. But instead of hitting the nail I hit a finger on my left hand. That happens from time to time, especially if you are high up on a ladder. Immediately the right hand put down the hammer and reached over to take care of the left hand, very naturally. The feet began to move to look for a bandage. Everything worked together very smoothly. Later the right hand did not say, “Hay left hand, remember how I helped you? Next time I need something you have to come and help me.’ Our innately wise bodies do not act in that way. So the wisdom of nondiscrimination is present in us as a living bodily reality. We have to train our minds to see in this way.
We form one reality. We exist in interbeing with all of life. When we understand this fundamental truth, our acts of giving will be made in the spirit of nondiscrimination. …we can offer a smile or a loving compassionate gaze. We can give the gift of calm, concentrated presence to help someone who is fearful or anxious. We can make an offering of our time and energy and work with the homeless, or with those who are prisoners or who are addicted to different substances, or to work on helping the environment. We have plenty of gifts to offer; we are far wealthier than we may imagine. We can help secure the happiness of many people even if we don’t have a single penny in our pocket.”