Awakened this morning by the acrid smell of burning plastic burning my nostrils so intensely it woke me up. I realized I can use an eye mask to keep out the light, ear plugs to keep out the nighttime sounds of dog fights and snoring, but nothing to keep out smells. The layer of sweat on by body intimated the electricity had been off much of the nite, the fan sat silent. I lay still...and waited. I knew the birds would begin soon and I needed them at that moment. Faint light, stillness... I may as well rise up and head down to the stupa for my daily walk around it. Three times, just cause thats what feels right, thought if the momentum is there, I continue till I"m tired. Many people do 108, just the the number of beads in the mala they carry. That could take all nite, I have to be awake and fully present for our days work so its not on my agenda.
It is the beginning of a 45 day celebration evidenced by many layers of Tibetan prayer flags strung everywhere, candles lit at night, more-than-usual chanting and drums and gongs coming from the monastery, and the multitudes of people circumambulating the stupa, many in prostration. Every day there is something different in the stupa square. New people, (from their attire and thin physique, clearly from a village a ways away), the smell of a different incense in the 4" high incense burner, different lights, different flowers, different instruments. Its a complex mix of ingredients that make up this spiritual practice. And it changes constantly...
Today we went to visit Shakti Samuha's "safe house". After a week working deeply and intensely with the 7 women from this organization bring trained to bring Expressive Healing Arts to their community, it was stepping in a different world to be with a group of women with a more recent connection to their trauma, some having been recently rescued. They were very shy at first, not quite sure what to make of this very-different-looking group of women who had come from far away to be with them. But all it took was a few games, laughter, and of course, music and dance, to break the ice and cut us all loose. As a universal language, dance can't be beat, no pun intended. They turned up the music and took turns dancing in the middle of the circle. We did a few art games together, drawing together on one piece of paper, passing the paper back and forth and then art became our language. It was inspiring how much we were able to communicate without words. Time came for us to leave and it was difficult for some of them. So many of them had no one in their lives, other than their fellow sisters there at the safe house. I sensed all of our hearts opened wide. And we all became vulnerable.
On Sui Generis
It has to be in June. The sixth month from the Gregorian calendar; the median of all months. Ideally, it supposed to be on the first or last day of June. I don’t know why so don’t ask me. It probably because during my whole life I just love to be the first – the fact that I’m the oldest son in my family might as well support the idea.
It has to be during the transition from day time to evening. It has to be in the afternoon. Exactly at 4.30PM would be nice since it’s the nicest time of any day in Indonesia. It’s the time when my late grandmother used to sit in the balcony with a cup of tea while waiting for me to get back from school. Simultaneously, it’s the time that inspired many great musicians to produce their magic: to create songs, such as what Sore (the band) did.
It might as well be in Indonesia as I love my country so much. I don’t want it to be in a foreign land, I don’t want it to happen while I’m here in Manchester right now. I want to edge away in a familiar sorroundings. A warm temperature with a perfect amount of humidity covering me. Don’t rain, please don’t. Why? Because rain in Indonesia is highly associated with sadness, despair, and regret. Even though Chinese descent in my country argue that rain symbolize prosperity but it’s only relevant for their lunar new year. So please, be sunny.
I want it to happen during my sleep. I love to take a nap during day time. As I tuck myself inside the duvet, in my modest yet luxurious house, I will fall asleep in approximately 10 minutes and pass away 1,5 hours later. In my deepest sleep ever, I will go without any pain at all. Besides, people said that if someone died in his sleep, then they’ve lived their life to the absolute fullest and they went on without any burden at all. That’s just the way I want it.
Or the other scenario is to die while I pray. To go at the moment when the distance between my forehead and the sajjāda is just an inch away. In other words it’ll be flawless if I kick the bucket while I’m kneeling; while I closed my eyes and ask Him for forgiveness.