Thursday, 3 May 2018

An Inyinbin Funeral


“When we arrived in the village center, we came across a large float built to hold a coffin. Venerable Yassa's aunt had recently died, and he was back in Ingynbin from Mandalay to participate in the funeral procession and practice the asubha contemplation. One of the pilgrims asked the monk of twenty-five rainy seasons how he felt. He admitted that he felt sad, but he did not cry since he had so much Buddhist practice under his belt. He said he felt happy also at this moment, for he had helped to teach Dhamma to his aunt, and he knew that she had lived a pure and virtuous life.

The procession itself was neither solemn nor sad, but rather festive with lots of joking and laughter... The float was then disassembled, the body removed from the coffin and placed on to the pyre. We then all moved to a nearby site where we were all given lychee juice while taking refuge in the Triple Gem and five precepts, followed by an asubha-based discourse.

Initially, I felt bad that we were given the seats of honor at a funeral of a person we did know and that the translations stretched out the event for our sake, but when realizing that all the locals were so pleased to have us there, all such thoughts vanished. As the chanting and discourse commenced, the smell of burning flesh wafted through the air. When the discourse was over, we met Yassa's cousin [the deceased’s son], also a monk, and uncle who we met earlier. This time, however, the elderly farmer was no longer grinning from ear to ear as the direct realization of what was happening began to sink in. His son, the monk, looked devastated, despite wearing the armor of a bhikkhu. We then walked over to watch the corpse burn and reflect on the vulnerability of life and inevitability of death.” Kory Goldberg, Canadian yogi