Letter to my Aunt

Dear Aunt,
Just my little two and a half cents contribution regarding religious gestures for Father.
Sixteen years ago, Father had set up the altar for the Guan Yin Bodhisattva in our home in hope that there would be miracles for Raymond’s eyesight. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with cancer, and there began a series of events that were ‘tragic’ and ‘unfair’ to him. Nevertheless, he continued to offer incense every morning and evening, partly in hope that he would be shown some Compassion, partly borne out of his rock-solid sense of duty.
A month before we moved house, he had instructed me to ‘ask away’ the Bodhisattva to the temples. I knew he was tired of placing hope in and bearing a duty to a miracle that never came, so I did as he wanted. Even so, we decided that we would employ Buddhist rites for the funeral, in hope that the Guan Yin that he had put faith in would finally guide him in the last journey. At the funeral, beautiful pearl white statuettes of the three Saints of Pureland Buddhism, one of whom was the Guan Yin, presided over the altar. If he could see, he would have approved. He was a secret lover of serenity and purity in art.
As Buddhism constantly evolves over 2500 years, with the young and modern joining the ranks, more emphasis now is on mental cultivation and spiritual practice, as compared to faith-based rites. The 13 mile walk you took in remembrance of father, recalling happy events and positive thoughts, is what would be called Loving-Kindness Contemplation (or ‘Metta Bhavana’ in Pali). Such a form of meditation is performed at deathbeds and funerals, or for the sick. Thoughts of our love for Father will transform our own minds to be better people, and love is what the world needs today. Your Loving Thoughts are all the rituals that is needed to guide Father in the state he is in now, and are all the rituals that are taught by the Buddha 2500 years ago and recorded in the Sutras.
With lots of Thoughts of Love in return,
And many thanks for your Walk of Remembrance,
Wishing: In gladness and in saftey,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!
~Karaniya Metta Sutta

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