Friday, 20 March 2015

Of Early Departures

This post offers a poetic reflection on the perplexity and grief that inevitably arise on the death of a young person.

A story is told in Tibet concerning Trisong Detsen, a 9th century ruler in Tibet's line of Dharma Kings, Shantarakshita, Buddhist Abbott and scholar, and Padmasambhava, the great founding father of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. It so happened that the King's daughter, Princess Pema Sel, died unexpectedly at a young age - at 8 years according to some accounts, at 17 years according to others.

Her father could not comprehend such a fate. He inquired of Padmasambhava how such a thing could come to pass. He was told that in a previous life, the King, Shantarakshita and Padmasambhava had known each other as low-caste boys and had worked together on the building of a Stupa, a Buddhist shrine which often houses the relics of saints. At that same time, the future Princess Pema Sel had taken birth as a mosquito.

While the boys were at work, the mosquito landed on the future king's neck and started to draw blood. While absent-mindedly brushing the mosquito away, he happened to kill it. Padmasambhava told the King that the insect had been reborn as his daughter in order to repay the karmic debt.

Of Early Departures
Querying Padmasambhava

Even kings can lose discernment.
When the three diamond carriers met once again
Their jeweled minds flashed forth much radiance
As that is the nature of diamonds.

The softer light of moonstone
Shadows and glides within turning cabochons
More softly suggestive of insights and excurvations.

The need to explain,
To unfold the crypt of meaning
That holds the losses
That unbidden
And without foreboding or intimation
Tear away the loved and cherished from our lives. . . .

No idle or intended slap of hand
That smites annoying insect
Accounts for this.

Gaza, January 2009