While the monks chanted, she poured water into the cup and told me to focus my thoughts on her late father.
I am sure everyone has been through a rough time in his or her life. I recently went through an experience that shook me out of my normal state of mind. I couldn’t sleep as well as I used to, and from the first moment I woke up, I started thinking about a million different things at once. I felt the need to find inner peace and put my past demons to rest.
My mother’s side of the family are Buddhists; every year she donates money, offers food to monks, and dedicates them to my late grandfather. I, myself, am not Buddhist, but this year, I decided to accompany her to a Buddhist temple. When we arrived, my mother gave me nine lotus flowers and asked me fold the petals so she could present them to the monks later. For someone whose thoughts had been racing twenty-four hours a day for the past week, there was something surprisingly calming about just focusing on making sure the lotus petals looked nice. I could hear monks chanting in the background and found it tremendously soothing.
After I had folded the lotus flowers, my mother tied them to candles and incense and presented them to the monks. She then wrote my grandfather’s name on a piece of paper, which the master of ceremony burned into a copper cup. I watched the fire eat away paper until the last flame flickered and died. While the monks chanted, she poured water into the cup and told me to focus my thoughts on her late father. The Buddhists believe that this was a way to dedicate good deeds to the dead. It stopped me from thinking about my own problems, even for a little while, and thoughts drifted to the grandfather who was taken away by cancer before we had a chance to meet. Monks feasted on food that everyone at the temple had dedicated to them.
When I left the temple that day with a strange lightness. I do not know if it was the act of focusing my mind on something else other than my personal issues or the fact that I knew I had just provided monks with a full meal. Whatever it was, it calmed the storm that had been raging in my head during the past week. Regardless of religion, putting someone else’s needs before my own and providing them with something they need is a beautiful thing. It does not only benefit the receiver, but also the giver.
Article written by Panarat Anmwathana.