In Buddhism, meditation is practiced so we can realise our inherent true nature. And this true nature, it is pretty fabulous! And when we are living outside our true nature, it is pretty awful. Sometimes it is okay, sometimes fabulous as well, but, in the end, the cards are stacked against us. All things fade away, so a good situation will turn sour eventually… though, of course, a bad situation will eventually ripen into a wonderful fruit. Sometimes these things take longer than our lifetime, so we can not bank on things changing for the better, though, of course, we can not bank on a good situation not to turn sour before we die.

Dogen, a Zen Master from centuries ago, said we must practice Zen with the fever as if our hair was on fire. If we catch our hair on fire, we instantly drop all thought and go straight into action… smacking our head!!! Put that fire out!!!

My grandfather was a quiet man. He always called me Richie or Richie-boy, even though I am fully grown and 40 years old now. I loved that. I do not really know much about who he was, even though I spent lots of my childhood around him. When I went to my grandparents house, which we did regularly as a child, he would sit quietly in his recliner chair, maybe reading the newspaper, maybe watching tv.

I am in England, his funeral has just occurred and I could only attend in spirit. An expired passport, expensive plane tickets and, finally ‘Superstorm Sandy’ made my return to the States not possible. I feel guilty even though it was out of my control.

What happens after death? I took a walk in the woods a couple of days ago, after I learned of his passing. I felt like he was there with me for a bit. Was he? I do not know. It could have been my brain creating things, or it could have been him there, somehow. I discount nothing. Part of the walk, he talked about his life after 40 years old, my age. He told me that by that age, he had his past separate from his future self. I am not exactly sure what this meant, but I felt it was to do with making peace with one’s past and do not let it be a burden for growth.

He drove locomotives for a living in New York City. During my walk, there were train tracks close by. I could hear a train, not moving, just sat on the tracks, idling, mostly hidden behind trees, but I could get a glimpse of its headlights. It just sat there.

Sure, it was just waiting for the signals to change to allow it to proceed. But it also was symbolic for me. It was quiet and just in the middle of a stretch of track, not at a station or anything.

I stood and watched the train for a while. feeling my ‘Pa’, as I called him. I then continued my walk, and it was after this when i had the ‘conversation’ with him I talked about above. When I had that talk, and he finished telling me his advise, the train released its brake and starting on its journey.

My heart felt him stop the train, get out and talk to me and then get back aboard and drive off …

My mind said otherwise, just thoughts made up in my grieving brain…

I let my heart win, it was stronger.

So, I say goodbye to my Pa, thank him for his visit, and send loving thoughts to my grandmother, Ma.


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