Some of you may know and some of you may not know that my stepmum passed away at the end of last year and while we’re all dealing with it, there are times when it still feels very raw and painful. On a seemingly unrelated note, Husband was bought a book on Buddhism by my little sister for Christmas and when reading it, found the story of Kisa Gautami. It goes something like this:
Kisa Gautami was a young woman from a wealthy family who was happily married to an important merchant. When her only son was one-year-old, he fell ill and died suddenly. Kisa Gautami was struck with grief, she could not bear the death of her only child. Weeping and groaning, she took her dead baby in her arms and went from house to house begging all the people in the town for news of a way to bring her son back to life. Of course, nobody could help her but Kisa Gautami would not give up. Finally she came across a Buddhist who advised her to go and see the Buddha himself.When she carried the dead child to the Buddha and told Him her sad story, He listened with patience and compassion, and then said to her, “Kisa Gautami, there is only one way to solve your problem. Go and find me four or five mustard seeds from any family in which there has never been a death.”Kisa Gautami was filled with hope, and set off straight away to find such a household. But very soon she discovered that every family she visited had experienced the death of one person or another. At last, she understood what the Buddha had wanted her to find out for herself — that suffering is a part of life, and death comes to us all. Once Kisa Guatami accepted the fact that death is inevitable, she could stop her grieving. (source)
If you’ve read this blog lately, you’ll know that I’ve been musing over faith, mortality and eternity and while Christian teachings allow us to take comfort from the idea that we’ll live forever in Heaven, what I really like about the Buddhist parable is that it makes no promises. It doesn’t speak of clouds and winged angels and halos, it simply teaches us that in grief we are never alone as everyone has suffered loss and that it is an inevitability in life.
I don’t know why, but I find this very comforting and have felt strangely peaceful since Husband told me. What do you all think?