Death, the eventuality of all men, is an unalienable right. To die properly and in lasting calmness, is fundamental to our living, yet gravely deprived in the modern reality.
Above words condensed from the Tibetan milk I have been fed, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
The book illustrated points that put me in tears, often retraced of how my beloved grandfather died and the events led up to his demise. My grandpa had pleaded to “die in peace, please give me no tears”, yet sorrows still prevailed and the family held a crowded enterrement in 2012, which could have been disturbing to the dead.
Do you know how to die?
Before my grandpa passed away, he had already foreseen his fate and quietly arranged his last words in an autobiography. The dying, called forth by the lingering clouds of the mortal worlds, had sensibilities 7x more acute than us normal dummies. Imagine you are the person to leave the world, do you want your family to cry their guts out and make you regretful of letting them alone? Or do you want to go in harmony when you know your family can be fine without you?
We often say rest in peace, yet what is the peace. The author, Rinpoche, suggested the death to happen at home instead of the hospital. For any man would long for the warmth of home. The nurse in the hospital might graduate from Cambridge, yet when she faced the question of a dying old, who was choking himself to death and had tears in his eyes, “Will God forgive me?” She was so scared to answer and had to see this man straggle off his last breath.
Will God forgive?
Yes, for divinity is forgiveness. But forgive, only if we can let ourselves go, by living in a purposeful and fulfilled life.
What is life?
My mere mortal self could not give the answer a full glint. Yet I had sought into books, such as 7 Years in Tibet and Dusts All Settled (尘埃落定). Two books varied in large difference, for the former has recounted the poverty and spiritual loyalty of the old Tibetan society from a Western perspective during World War II. The latter, which gained fame in China, described the life of the rich Tibetans away from capital Lhasa. Nonetheless, a hierarchical Tibetan society opened its full flung: youths died early, boys sent to religious schools, royals bullied their power, divinity preserved and people were parochially happy. Day after day, they fixed the same cog on the same carpenter machine and never asked, “why did the someone dictate my life and death, and why am I born in this world?”
The purpose was simple: fix this cog and God will save your soul.
Maybe it is the old Tibetans lovely naïve, or maybe it is the materialistic waves that washed our spirits. Truth lied in the middle.
While I continued to ponder on what is life, I found out that the respected Rinpoche, the author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, was accused of raping women en guise de spiritual cause in 2007. In the powerful Tibetan faith, one can indeed find the true end via intercourse. It is an open secret that the top religious heads had many scandals. Maybe all is “empty” in the eyes of the wise, or may be the seduction of minds after the Tibetan world had been opened up to many more choices.
I will leave the debates to your fine judgement, along with the question of whether Tibet was “invaded” or “liberated”. I have never been to Tibet, despite it had long been my virgin dream. I scouted so many jewelleries from this remote land, that when I strolled down on roads, people often asked, “Young lady, are you a Tibetan?”
I would have smirked and said yes, since I had assimilated many of its history and stories; but I thought over it, and decided to be truthful, “I wish, but no.”
For Tibet had been this maiden myth of western and eastern attentions, the old and the new, the exotic fantasy and religious purity. Will life go on like a wheel, I would love its beauty continue to grow, like a dying man resting in his last glimpse to the sky, no fear of death, but only a calmed heart, to the vivid glory of having once been alive.
*7 Year in Tibet is also famous for its Brad Pitt-starred film, which captured the sceneries and cultural images of the Tibetan society. Long film, but good watch if you are curious to visualise the place.