Posted by: Upāsaka | 06/28/2016

For the Departed

I’ve been inspired by the chanting request email I receive from Kwan Um which requests chanting for people who have died, are sick or suffering to begin the practice for the people they send as well as for anyone else I become aware of. Truly, if my practice is to cultivate a boundless heart and to do what little I can to allay the sufferings of beings, then chanting and dedicating melt to the sick, suffering and dead is only the next logical step.

This morning I began in earnest and chanted the Ksitigarbha mantra for Nick Kushner, an artist who recently passed away. I briefly looked him up before I began to have a clearer picture in my mind and saw that he was inspired by darker subject matter. Blood, gore and other goth themes that reminded me of my adolescence listening to NIN, Skinny Puppy and other industrial bands. I hope that he wasn’t mentally occupying that same head space where I was then but I’ll never know. Frankly, All the more reason to practice for him if it is the case.

I began the chanting and began to get a foreboding feeling that there was a presence with me that wanted to harm. I started hearing noises upstairs (that could very well have been normal) and got this mental image of a wraith like being with long black hair, snow white gave and black holes for the eyes and mouth. I also felt what I can only describe as claws threatening to rip out my chest. I still can’t tell if I just freaked myself out by viewing some of his art, if there was some objectively real phenomena occurring or both but I knew I couldn’t may abandon the practice.

I switch to Metta bhavana for myself, got some warmth and calm and helped to subdue the feeling that something was going to excoriate me and then began chod practice. I offered the wraith my body and fed it limbs and skull and kept feeding it until it got so big and fast out couldn’t move. It then transformed into a young man with a clear complexion and long brown hair. I promised to dedicate merit to it and have monks chant for it and then I moved on with my practice.

Strange experience but valuable on so many levels.

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