On the day Rev. Master Jiyu died, (6th November 1996) I was at Shasta Abbey, I’d been part of a team of monks attending on her for the last three years. It is regarded as a very great privilege to be beside one’s Master as they approach the end of their life. I was fortunate to be able to be there.
Rev. Master Jiyu founded Throssel in 1972 and, as is the custom in Zen temples, we express our gratitude for the founder’s life on the anniversary of their death. It has been a beautiful Autumnal day here tucked away in the Northumberland moors, the trees are shedding their colourful leaves. Golden and bronze leaves caught in the watery sunshine as they fall, Lovely.
Back in 1996, beside the building where Rev. Master lived, and had so recently died, there’s a Linden Tree. Minutes after her passing, I found myself gazing at the fluttering leaves, a monk beside me. A slight breeze and the golden leaves, full ripe and ready to fall from their branches, floated down. Glowing in the afternoon sun. I wondered aloud at the joy I felt at that moment. Just another leaf falling off the tree, they said. And with that we went back indoors, where a steady stream of monks were paying their respects.
It might seem odd to be experiencing joy in the presence of death. And just today I linked that joy with a Buddhist teaching, Mudita, sympathetic joy. Yes, on a certain level there is grief, and depending on the circumstances of the death, the relationship with them especially, a death can be harrowing to say the least. And yet, something within resonates deeply, we travel with them in empathy. How could we not do that? Love carries us along with them, and there can be joy and Great Hope while not knowing why.
Gone to Glory?
This is for all those known and unknown who have recently witnessed death in the family. And thank you, Mark Rowan for the photograph.
There is a post called Mudita, Sympathetic Joy here.