About an hour and a bit south-east of Seoul, tucked in the hilly countryside of YongIn is Waujeongsa, head temple of Korea’s lesser known Yeolban Jong, the Nirvana Order.
Near the top of the path that circles the steep grounds is a small grotto shrine in which lies this beautiful Parinirvana Buddha, carved from a single Juniper tree. It’s one of the many Buddhas I love sitting in the room with.
. . .
This year, a lot of special people in my life have had their leases expire. I know I’m not particularly unique or alone in this experience. Every religion and philosophy has their own explanations and beliefs about death (it’s usually a rather important subject!) and I’ve always appreciated what Buddhism has taught me.
It’s a difficult subject to discuss definitively because how many of us remember dying? What we do have, though, is the shared wisdom of those who can see, and personally, ones I trust. The Buddha spoke of witnessing his hundreds of lives, the number in the texts is 500, just before his enlightenment. If since that time, we’ve all been reborn as humans consecutively, we can probably add another 40-50 or so lives, but assuming the possibility that we could have gone anywhere from cats and dogs to birds and bees and who knows what else, well, from a Buddhist perspective, we’ve all experienced death enough times that there ought to be some knowledge stashed down in those roots somewhere!
At Saturday Sangha, Chong Go Sunim often talks about different situations when Dae Haeng Kun Sunim has assisted in the unseen realm of someone’s passing. One of the more practical stories, rather than one of the, “Holly cow! She did what?!” ones, was that she once said, “Even if someone has already been reborn, praying for them can still help them in their current life.”
There must have been people other than me who wondered about this for her to say it, but I’m glad that she did. It’s encouraging to think our thoughts and intentions can reach that far, even beyond death.