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Buddhadharma : Fall 2015
82 buDDhaDharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 1 5 to struggle with the fact of change, the immeasurable wonder and disaster of it. We billions, who love and cry and try to understand. A group of disciples and visiting teachers do the first ceremony, bowing shoulder to shoulder in the little room. Then we process in with the coffin. Then the long funeral, everyone worn out with aching feet and sore backs, pursu- ing a singular, unrepeatable quest. The coffin is covered; the celebrant, a priest from another Zen sangha, draws an enso in ink on a white silk scarf that will go into the fire as well. The taiko drum pounds. Many voices. A single voice. Many voices. Finally the coffin is pushed to the door of the crematorium, and the big crowd gathers around the door. More ceremony. More bows, on the cold concrete floor, and more incense, and then the bearers push the coffin in and Gyokuko pushes the button. A high whoosh of flame fills the room. As I walk across the parking lot, I glance up at the crematory chimney. I can’t see the smoke in the sun-bright sky. But looking down, I see its shadow, dancing and wavering across the asphalt. Monday morning, Kakumyo, Gyo- kuko, Jyoshin, and I go back for the big metal tray filled with bones. David has left it for us to sort, on top of the crushing machine he usually uses to turn bones into ash. They are frail but easy to recognize, and we can sort them like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle: vertebrae, part of the pelvis, metatarsals, sections of ulna and radius with epiphyses. Pieces of the ribs, parts of the skull, some with pink and black marks that I think might be the sterile traces of blood and brain. Then we set aside little pieces to share with disciples and friends. I notice a strange tool on the shelf, a heavy iron weight with a flat plate on one side and a round knob on the other. David has been patiently hover- ing nearby. What is this for? I ask him. Usually we put adults in the machine, he says. But that is for the babies. ➤ continued from page 55 INSIGHT MEDITATION SOCIETY IMS’s Forest Refuge program is for experienced meditators only. For more information, visit www.dharma.org or call 978-355-2063 Deepen your practice Experience a personal retreat at IMS’s Forest Refuge • Choose the length of your stay – retreat periods range from seven nights to a year or more • Develop an individual program of silent practice – supported by teacher talks and interviews • Balance solititude with community – meditate with others or in your private room • Strengthen practice faith, confidence and self-reliance