2014-07 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – On Loss
- Social Media and Physical Loss of Life
- Energy Transformations
- The Ever-Turning Wheel of Dharma
- You Create Permanence
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While life in the eternal world (whether you call it heaven, mecca, nirvana, spiritual or the any other term) goes on, and on, existence in this world is most definitely of limited term, and in many respects amazingly short in consideration of the billions of years of the planet itself and everything around it in the universe.
When we lose someone near to us, we feel both the pangs of remorse towards missing a person we can no longer talk with, write to, or even choose to ignore. And we feel a sense of powerlessness in not being able to do anything about the person who is gone. It is a soul gone and hopefully never forgotten, but unlike un-friending someone on Facebook, or un-following someone on Twitter, the person’s physical being has left us to become part of the soil once again. Your choice to reconnect with that person’s physical presence is obstructed as though their social life account had been deleted and removed entirely. Building tribute pages and leaving phantom accounts open provides solace to those left behind, but the bits and bytes of storage making up those frozen images are a scarce fraction of the powerful presence of a living, breathing person.
Based upon science, wherein observations relative to energy as being a thing that cannot be destroyed, but only transformed into another form of energy (such as electricity becoming heat or cold, or wind against a mountain becoming a sound, or light becoming stored as potential energy through photosynthesis or photoreaction) – we should think about all that energy that made the person we knew, who they were. The thoughts, emotions, actions and memories were all forms of energy moving and flowing within a physical shell, processed by a cerebral cortex, and transformed by muscles into words, writing and actions. But when the human body finally stops operating, where does all that energy go?
One physics-based theory is that the memories of others, our own recollections of people gone but not forgotten, are the manifestation of the transition from a physical person, to someone that continues to exist in the synapses of all those who remember them. To think that our own cherished thoughts about someone we loved perpetuate their virtual existence is something worth pondering. Over time, the memories may fade, but each time we bring a quality of their life back into our forefront thoughts, we re-energize the little batteries that keep that light shining. And it’s not just ourselves, but every person who that person touched contribute their own microvolts of remembrance to keep the energy from dissipating as heat loss.
Or metaphysically, we consider the possibility of the cycle of dharma, which also is based on the principle that energy (or spirit) cannot be destroyed, but continues to transform from state to state. In this form, we might consider the concept of karma to be the particular formula that transforms energy from one state of permanence, to another one, whether ascending or descending in form, based upon the qualities of life during that person’s time in a particular realm. Perhaps the concept of reincarnation is just that same transformation of ethereal energy back into another living being.
So for every candle you light in memory of a lost one, or every prayer you offer in solace, or whenever you simply think about someone you’ve lost, you become the energy source which acts like a little battery keeping that person’s spirit alive, if not in physical form because ashes once again became ashes, and dust became dust. But that person’s soul energy may perpetuate and continue to flow, never lost and never destroyed. Shinjo and Tomoji Ito (the Shinnyo Parents) used to say, “Live and act to be a person who is missed.” And maybe that is the definition of what permanence really means.