ON DEATH: A PILE OF FIREWOOD AND A PATCH OF JOB'S TEARS GRASS
Maggie H is a Global Explorer and Wellness Guru from Hong Kong. Among many spiritual endeavors, Maggie practices and leads Qigong meditation to help people around the world find their inner balance. Find out more about this practice and join her weekly on ICBRKR's live Qigong Meditation stream every Wednesday.
A couple of months ago, I was watching a documentary of a Buddhist monk and calligrapher who has been living alone for 30 years in a remote mountain area situated in Korea. The crew were filming every second of his life of solitude in the mountain while staying with him for a few days. Since it was right before the winter season, the monk was busy gathering firewood on a daily basis. He has one rule that he adheres to while gathering the firewood. No matter how desperate, he only gathers dead trees and branches. By removing the dead branches scattered around, he keeps the mountain area in a neat and tidy condition.
Upon returning to his small hut, he was chopping and cutting the firewood and piling it up neatly in the barn. The camera then caught a corner of the barn where old and well dried firewood was neatly piled up with a small wooden name tag nailed at the top. The tag was written in calligraphy that read '茶毘木, Dabi-mok' which translates into 'firewood for Buddhist cremation.'
After being asked by the crew what this signified, the monk answered, “If I die suddenly without having prepared the firewood, someone has to do it to burn my body. The dead should not owe anything to the living.” He wants to live 'Not snared, like the wind in a net.' — Wander Alone, Like a Rhinoceros, Khaggavisana Sutta
Buddhists use prayer beads, and I also own several, made up of various kinds of materials such as different types of wood, seeds, stones and crystals. In Korea, there is actually a plant named 'prayer beads,' which is also known as Job's tears seeds. Extensively available in the Asia Pacific region, these plants are commonly used to make beads for jewelry, tea, medicine, and food. There are several interesting aspects about Job's tears seeds being called 'prayer beads.' They are hard and shiny on the surface, but are very light to wear and carry around. Most importantly, they have a natural hole in them. How wonderful is that? Just string them and voilà!
In the olden days, old Buddhist monks and nuns would wear prayer beads made with Job's tears seeds around their wrist. After knowing that it was time for them to leave the body, they would walk deep into the mountains and find a good spot to sit down and die alone, meditating. Their bodies wouldn’t be found for a long time, even after the flesh and bones completely returned to the earth. Only one small sign, which is the last amazing thing about Job's tears seeds, remained: no matter how well dried or how long they have been used as prayer beads, after merging with the earth, they sprout and grow new plants the following spring. Put simply, they regrow year after year.
My Buddhist nun teacher once told me what when we hike up the mountains and find a small patch of Job's tears grass in a sunny spot, we can infer that there was a nameless practitioner who left a sign behind and returned to where he or she came from.
Recently, we heard news reports about the demise of tens of thousands of people from all over the world. It's truly tragic that some people's lives will be reduced to mere numbers and statistics. I cannot help but wonder how many were prepared, and how many were able to leave any poetic signs behind.
May their souls rest in peace.
See you soon, at the next ICBRKR live Qigong Meditation stream, every Wednesday.
Maggie H is a Life Cartographer, Eastern philosopher, Qigong master, Buddhist and Taoist meditator, Feng Shui practitioner, and researcher of Buddhist scriptures. She lives in Hong Kong, and regularly travels to both India and South Korea to further her spiritual growth and development. Her lifelong motto is: "benefit to all humankind."
To find out more about Maggie's work, check out her website and join other ICBRKRs around the world in her live streams every Wednesday. Check the app, under Global Live Streams, for exact times in your location.
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