Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dealing with sorrow

Any one who has relatives loved ones and friends would feel sadness and grief when one of them passes away either because of old age, illnesses or accidents. The grief could be greater if the deceased had been murdered or unintentionally killed. Perhaps the greatest grief of all (to the Chinese) is when a ‘white hair’ person (parent) has to send off a ‘black hair’ person (child). Notwithstanding we accept the fact that every human being whether they are healthy or ill will have to ‘go’ eventually. It is just too difficult to overcome the loss of a loved one especially one too young to die.

Our national newspapers for the past few days have headlined the death of a young boy aged seven and the grief of his parents and siblings at his funeral. The boy was kidnapped, killed and his body stuffed in a travel bag found floating in a river. The kidnapper turned out to be a male relative whom the boy’s father helped from time to time with money. The kidnap and murder of the child occurred a few weeks after his father refused to give more money to the unemployed relative.

In such events that bring deep sorrow, kind words and acts can only lessen the pain for a moment. Heartaches take time to heal.

While Zhuangzi did not show much emotion on the death of his wife, he beat his drum and was philosophical about the event of her passing. Confucius on the other hand could not contained his grief on hearing of the death of Yen Hui, his favorite student. He exclaimed: ‘Alas! Heaven is destroying me! Heaven is destroying me!’

You see, notwithstanding their high level of cultivation, Sages are humans like us and have emotions too. Dealing with sorrow and other human emotions, the ancients have this to say:

While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in the state of Equilibrium. When those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what may be called the state of Harmony. This Equilibrium is the great root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this Harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue.

Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.
[Doctrine of the Mean 1. 4 & 5]

In memory of Sam Crane's son, Aidan and the young boy, Ho Ping, aged seven.


Anonymous said...

Warm greetings Allan,

When I lost my mother this year the sense of loss filled my emotions. But also, pleasant memories flooded my mind with experiences I shared with her. With these pleasant memories and with a sense of loss, harmony did prevail. And with that, Zhi-le was once again at the center.
in peace,

Allan said...

Yes, Gar. We seemed to keep good memories of loved ones who had passed away. After some time, when the heartaches are gone, the lovely memories occasionally warm our hearts and bring a tear to our eyes.


Sam said...

Thanks so much for your remembrance of Aidan. I just happened upon it now unexpectedly. I was feeling rather sad this evening, for a variety of reasons, but your mention of Aidan has changed my thoughts. At this moment, his memory is a comfort to me. And the fact that he came to your mind, half a world away, reminds me of the extent of his reach and the vastness of Way.

Allan said...


It is the least one can do for Aidan, a warrior of the Way, who has shown the will to live and had to battle against various illnesses throughout his young life.

Take care, and regards to you and your family.