Friday, October 12, 2007

Transferring Merits to the Dear Departed and Helping Others

Wify's circle of Buddhist friends gathered tonight at our home to attend a simple, solemn Buddhist ceremony in memoriam of my late Father-in-law who passed away earlier in the week. She was the only one among her siblings who could not attend the funeral in person.

The one-hour ceremony comprised chanting of the Amitabha Sutra with periodic prostration as a symbolic act of transferring merits to my late Father-in-law. I stood at the back of the group, memories of my interaction with the dear departed flashing through my mind.

Our eldest and youngest children amidst the chantees ...

I recall meeting him at a bus stop not far from our home in PJ on some of the evenings when he returned from a trip to downtown. There were occasions too when I dropped him off at the same place for him to go city-ward.

Those were the days when I was preoccupied with my own work and pursuit of personal hobbies such as reading. At times, instead of taking it as my duty to be of service to my elders, I felt like doing a chore, debating how the time could have been better spent.

It took me awhile, a long while actually, to realize that to be in a position to help others, let alone the elders of loved ones, is such a blessing that it escapes a lot of us. Oftentimes the effort can be likened to lifting a finger, metaphorically, but we choose not to do it voluntarily, until badgered into it whence the momentary displeasure that the vacillation causes sometimes escalates into animosity, turning a potentially amiable moment into disarray.

So next time when the opportunity to help others, no matter how effortless it may seem, offers itself, jump right in and emerge ready to help another.

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