Friday, May 4, 2012

Dances With Death

The time now is 11.30pm, 3 May. A good friend called me up earlier at about 10pm and talk to me about his enlarged prostrate. He is almost 60 years old and his PSA reading was 5. He said about 3 years ago, it went up to 7 and then has come down and been quite stable. His doctor wanted to do a biopsy and he called me to asked me about the impact of the biopsy. I gave him my opinion. He was not too keen on the procedure. If I were him, I would also feel the same. I suggested that he get another opinion before making the biopsy procedure decision. I thought it was nothing and told him not to worry so much. After he put down the phone, a sense of uneasiness hangs over me. I then spent the rest of the night looking up more on enlarged prostrate and the relationship between the PSA results and prostrate cancer. That news has affected me. I am really worried that any of my friends or for that matter anybody who gets cancer. I know I will take it badly should any one of them gets cancer. I could not sleep and I need to find some comfort.

The night was warm and my mother has just powered on the air-conditioner in the hall and also having the fan at full blast. The air-conditioner is just behind me and I could feel the cold air eating into my bones as I was writing this post. I was also having a backache after sitting for too long. I popped in a pain killer, my good friend whom I can trust in the hour of need. What would I do without you? Somehow, I think my mother must have sense something was wrong with me after I was seen wearing another long sleeve shirt over my tee. She turned off the air-conditioner and went to sleep. But that did not give me comfort. Just then, I was also listening to some music on my headphone and the Song from a Secret Garden by Secret Garden was also playing. This song can make me cry, yes for even a used to be Rambo like me. Somehow the timing was right and maybe I needed a cry badly. That's why the phone call from my friend and also the timing of the song. I was looking for comfort and now I have it.

I found myself turning into someone I don't quite know. I have been listening to some very inspirational lectures by Drs Wayne Dyer and Ron Scolastico. I think when you have cancer, you tend to have more time to think about life and death. As Buddhist, we contemplate about death and I have also read many articles and books about death including The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and Osho's views on Death. Death does not seems scary anymore and I seems to be welcoming or looking forward to death. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for each new day it brings but at the same time, I tell myself even today is my last day on earth, I would embrace death. I no longer want to die in my sleep. I want to be awake and experience death.

There are many things people do to escape. They retreat to the mountains, the monasteries and even commit suicide. Some would called them cowards but are they? Physically, their bodies may be at the mountains and monasteries, can they escape their consciousness (or some would call soul)? If you love life then you must also celebrate death. This physical body is nothing but a temporary warehouse to store the consciousness or soul. Behind all the physical bodies which are being held by certain frequencies that vibrate to form the body that you can see, the most basic structure are nothing but energy. You can't destroy energy but can only change the type of energy. Yet there is no physical memory like the RAM you find in computers. Yet a person can recall past events like when he was a child or things that happen sometime ago. Where are all these memories stored? The brain? The memories becomes part of the energy, so called storage energy for a lack of a better word. So when a person dies, it is the physical body that dies, where did the energy go?

So you see why I have a paradigm shift about dying? Now, everyday I live even better, not having to worry about being alive or dead. I am not treating death lightly. On the contrary, I believe one can greet death with respect, dignity and grace. When one dies, the body starts to disintegrates no matter how beautiful it was. All materials belongings are left behind and it is such attachments that the consciousness or soul fear on the verge of becoming nothingness.  Even with one thousand years more to live, it wants more. Like me, I have live for an extended 31 months. I will not ask for more but just live my life to the fullest for every day it brings. The clinging to possessions and wanting to live longer creates misery. Yes, the consciousness or soul will bear witness to the physical death of the body. Death will come whether you are ready or not. Rather than fighting death which is a certainty, why not threat him like a friend who is now knocking at your door and your are happy to see him. Welcome him as a friend you have not seen for a long time. Death is the meeting of life.


  1. Dear Chang,
    Since you are on the topic of life after death, please allow me to share with you another view of wishing to be reborn as a human again. I was also having that wish previously.
    How about wishing to be reborn in Lord Buddha Amitabha's pure land instead of coming back to earth to suffer again. Please see for a short but clear explanation of pure land buddhism.

  2. Interesting CL Yee.

    If I am not mistaken, 'pure land' concept emerges later. Not during Buddha's era. Ancient Buddhism touches on recognising 'suffering' and how to 'rid of suffering'. Chang is doing well in this respect. He is great.


    1. Hi CL Yee and Gary,

      Thank you for sharing. I must disappoint both you that this post is neither about Buddhism nor about life after death.

      Many people have asked me that despite my deteriorating condition, why I am able to laugh and still be so positive about life?

      I am just sharing my spiritual views (which is not tied to any religious believes) of how I look at life and death. And how I used psychology and philosophy which I learned from the gurus like Dr Dyer and Dr Scolastico to understand and come to terms about living and dying which also helps me to live my life more fully. I am just sharing a method that I found it to be effective.

      This can then be further supported by the religious believes of each reader.

    2. The approach may be different, but the ultimate results still go back to Buddha's teachings.

      Despite your deteriorating condition, you are still able to laugh. I see this as you 'recognised' suffering and able to 'rid' of them. If not, how to smile and with positive thinking?

      You are great, Chang. Things may become better, who know?

  3. Hi,

    Can refer to the book of Grand Master Lu Sheng-yen,


    Take care !

  4. Chang,

    Just a simple person, I thought you guys are a bit philosphical, may be that proves ignorance (in me) is bliss.

    All the best in your menatl battle

    rgds, kokpiew

    1. Hi Kok Piew,

      For me there is nothing philosophical about it. Just like you in my pre cancer days I am just a simple person but who suddenly found myself having to deal with death overnight.

      It took a lot of tears, physical and mental suffering to come to terms with my life.

  5. A book by Grand Master Lu Sheng-yen
    English translation
    True Buddha Foundation

    Hope it helps!

  6. Chang

    Do check out Korean pianist Yiruma his piano pieces is soul touching. If you enjoyed it and wish to have all his music pieces let me know can easily burn for u.

    Have a wonderful day.

    Ai Wee

    1. Dear Ai Wee,

      I have been listening to my daughter playing on the piano the piece River Flows in You and I did not know it was from Yiruma.

      Looks like I will buy the CD for my collection. thanks for your recommendation.