We must be diligent today.

To wait until tomorrow is too late.

Death comes unexpectedly.

How can we bargain with it?

[The Buddha]


In recent weeks 2 friends have died, both very unexpectedly.

I write this newsletter in honour of their memory.




The human form, at peace with itself,

Is more precious than the rarest gem.

Cherish your body, it is yours this one time only.

[Lama Tsongkhapa]


When we heard the news that Charl - a personal fitness trainer, who was only 35 years old - had a stroke and was in intensive care, we contacted Geshe Phende (a Buddhist monk and dear friend who conducted many retreats at our Centre during his stay in South Africa at the Lam Rim Buddhist Centre in Johannesburg). Geshe-la knew Charl and often enquired about him. We received the following email message from him which was very consoling:


I am saddened to hear about Charl's massive stroke. I am leading a Medicine Buddha practice today this evening at our Monastery in a few hours and will certainly dedicate this practice for Charl. All the participating Sangha members will also join in this dedication prayer. We would pray for his survival if at all that is a possibility. However, if he is destined to face the transition, we will pray that he passes through this transition peacefully experiencing virtuous thoughts so that he will find a better human rebirth and meet with qualified spiritual teachers and companions to be able to practice Dharma and ultimately attain the state of Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. Our prayers are with Charl. 




All worldly things are brief, like lightening in the sky,

And you must know this life as the tiny splash of a raindrop,

A thing of beauty that disappears even as it comes into being.

[Lama Tsongkhapa]


Sogyal Rinpoche in his classic: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, says that those who have suffered sudden or violent death have a particularly urgent need for help. Victims of murder, suicide, accident, or war, can be trapped by their suffering, anguish, and fear, or may be imprisoned in the actual experience of death, and so be unable to move on through the process of rebirth. Their soul / mind-stream / consciousness could be in a disturbed state due to the untimely death. The following (simplified) spiritual practice is very helpful: 


Imagine tremendous rays of light emanating from the Buddhas or Divine Beings, pouring down all their compassion and blessings. Imagine this light streaming down onto the dead person, purifying them totally and freeing them from the confusion and pain of their death, and granting them profound and lasting peace.


You can pray: Through your blessing, grace, and guidance, and through the power of the light that streams from you,

May all his/her negative karma, destructive emotions, obscurations, and blockages, be purified and removed.

May he/she be forgiven for any harm that he/she may have thought or done.

May he/she die a peaceful death, and through the triumph of his/her death,

May he/she be able to benefit other beings, living or dead. 


Imagine then, with all your heart and mind, that the dead person dissolves into light, and his or her consciousness, now healed and free of all suffering, soars up to merge indissolubly and forever with the wisdom mind of the Buddhas. [or other enlightened beings.]



“This body is not me.

I am not limited by this body.

I am life without boundaries.

I have never been born,

and I have never died.


Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,

manifestations from my wondrous true self.

Since before time, I have been free.

Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,

sacred thresholds on our journey.

Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.


So laugh with me,

hold my hand,

let us say goodbye,

say goodbye, to meet again soon.

We meet today.

We will meet again tomorrow.

We will meet at the source every moment.

We meet each other in all forms of life.”


[Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh]

Angel statue in the gardens of Temenos Retreat



Our ground of being, the Ultimate, or God, or the Divine, is not separate from us. We are in it all the time. It is not somewhere up there beyond the sky. It is like the wave and water. The wave is always made of water. Water is the foundation of the wave. A wave is a wave, but it is also water. The wave may have a beginning and an end, it may be big or small. A wave can be like the other waves or it can be different. But with water there is no beginning, no end, no up, no down, no this, no that. In the historical dimension we have time and space, and pairs of opposites: right and wrong, young and old, coming and going, pure and impure. We look forward to beginning and we are afraid of ending. But the Ultimate dimension does not have any of these things. There is no beginning or end, no before or after. The Ultimate is the ground that makes the historical dimension possible. It is the original, continuing source of being. It is Nirvana. It is the Kingdom of God.  


Our foundation is Nirvana, the Ultimate reality. You can call it God or the Kingdom of God. This is the water in which we live. You are a wave but at the same time you are also water. You have a historical dimension and you also have an Ultimate dimension. If we understand that our true nature is of no birth, no death, no coming, no going, then our fear will depart and our pain and suffering will vanish. A wave does not have to die in order to become water. She is water right here and now. We also do not have to die in order to enter the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is our very foundation here and now. Our deepest practice is to see and touch the Ultimate dimension in ourselves, the reality of no birth and no death. Our true nature is the nature of no birth and no death. We do not have to go anywhere to touch our true nature. The wave does not have to look for water because she is water. We do not have to look for God, for Nirvana, because we are Nirvana, we are God. [Extract from No Death, No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh]



We are both the ocean and the wave. The wave is temporal but the ocean is eternal. 


Please forward this email to friends who might be interested.

Please notify us if you wish to be added or removed from our mailing list.