Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dying Thoughts

"My religion is simple. My religion is kindness."  Dalai Lama 

Many readers here hold Chang fondly in their thoughts. This blog seems to be part of their lives already. The day has come for us to move on. 

A reader "Anonymous" left the following comment"
"I wish to know in greater details Chang's thoughts or thought process just before his passing, if it's possible at all. Did he give much thought to where he was going / his after-life? Was it just nothingness? Was he just thinking about what he wished to leave behind without further thoughts where he was going, or was it that it didn't matter to him at all?"

From May 2, 2012 post by Chang "
"One thing about being a Buddhist is that we believe in rebirth. Another thing I do when preparing my death is to make a wish to be reborn in the human realm. Although I have not achieved any spiritual attainment, it is my intent to be reborn in the human realm as a male. After completion of my university education, I will go forth and enter life as a monk and continue my Buddhist practice. So I visualise it with intent and wish for this to happen in my next rebirth".

Buddhists believe that death is not the end of life. It is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our consciousness will still remain. It will seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where we will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions. 

In the past, there were times when readers debated with each over their religions. When the discussions were too heated, Chang consulted me about my view. At that time I said that he should focus on  the spirit of this blog and what he created this blog for. 

We  say that we respect one another, so this respect should also be shown through respect for one another's religions. While all religious prayers, chants and information done in good faith are most welcome, I discourage inflammatory remarks putting down others' religions. We have to deal with our own unhappiness over others' beliefs and take responsibility for our own feelings. True spirituality is about compassion, acceptance and peace, whatever religion we belong to. What is the point in calling oneself a Buddhist, Christian etc when one cannot show genuine compassion for another fellow human being?

In his last weeks of life, Chang was struggling to manage his pain. He could not talk much. As to his thoughts about dying, what he told me was that he was not fearful of the death itself but the pain.

I encouraged him to "go peacefully, in a positive frame of mind" and he nodded. I asked him how he was coping emotionally (meaning depressed or not, etc) and he said he was okay. The good thing is that he had learned to manage his emotions before he died. Our emotions are a reflection of our mind.

During our association, I always encouraged him to confront his emotions, dig a little deeper within to find the root cause of  whatever he was feeling at the time and deal with those emotions rather than repress them. Later, he told me he had learned this "technique" as he called it,  quite well. And I believe it helped him cope when he was dying.

(Updated by Chang's Friend)


  1. I am the "Anonymous" reader, and I have communicated with Chang in the past about this topic. He has said many times, i believe, over several postings, that dying sometimes brings chill to him (not exactly in these words but to the same effect). I applaud him for his honesty. I asked him what he was afraid of, whether it was death itself or the process of dying. I think it's a pertinent question, one that crosses the mind of every terminally ill patient, where mortality is as real as breathing air. It surely did crossed my mind, as I was facing mortality several months back. It was the very first thing that I had to deal with when confronted with the prospect of dying. I "was" a terminally ill cancer patient, diagnosed with a rare condition. Chang answered that it was the process of death. And he refrained from answering question where he thinks he will be going to. You answered for him here, and I thank you. I am about to start a debate about religion. I only wanted to know if he knew, rather than believed where he was going.

    You are right to say that we all need to move on. I think readers have mostly moved on, it's the memory of Chang that lives on, which is not something bad at all. It's a testimony that Chang's life, his blog and his thoughts mattered.

  2. About the question of where we are heading after dead, here are some very brief facts to note:
    1)a person has 3 souls and after his/her dead, 1st soul(灵魂)will go to the other world, normally the hell first to check if the person has any crimes or wrongdoings(like one taiwanese murderer 陈进兴( ... /1811xw.html 2003-6-9) is now serving heavy punishments for at least 20 yrs in the hell).
    Every body has one "house" in the other world which called 元神宫which is either made of wood, brick, bamboo and a person's name is displayed outside the house. Inside the house, there is a log book on top of the table which has the details of that person's reincarnation history records including the life span to be allowed in each life. I mention one taiwanese famous writer 三毛who committed suicide in 1991 as an example. Before her death,a master who visited her "house" there and saw her log book mentioning a total 23 books to be written and during that time she has finished up to 17 books. When she passed away in 1991, she had finished up to 23 books. This is an example where our life span being determined by the time we are born. As i said earlier, CT Chang's love ones still can 'visit and talk to him' at the other world using 观落阴method. In fact there are too many things about hell, heaven and ghost which we normal people may not realise.. to be continued if time permits.

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    In response to your comment, I have added on a few more lines in the blog. Chang recommended the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. for the death process.
    If you look into all religions,not one of them says that we become "nothing" when we die. We move on to another realm, heaven, hell, rebirth etc. I hope this is comforting. And every religion needs a measure of faith. The state of mind at death is important and Chang knew that.

  4. I have advised Chang few times about the technique which was given by the late Chief Rev. K. Sri Dhammananda (High Priest of M'sia & S'pore)on ensuring good rebirth. Based on Buddhist teachings, our rebith to a higher (human, devas & brahmas) or lower planes of existence (hell, ghosts, animals, demons) depends on the last thought moment that was registered before dying. Thus, late Chief always reminded us to keep a logbook of every meritorious deed that we make. We should then read through once in a while to relect on it and obtain happiness from the knowledge that we have done something useful in our life. When the person is in terminal stage, his family member should regularly read out the logbook to remind him & allows him to recolect those good deeds that he has done. This will ensure that at the dying moment, his mind will register only good & happy memory and this will support him to a better rebirth. Another thing which our late Chief had mentioned was that our mind will automatically recalled in the last moment habits that a person used to do. Thus, for a religious person, he should perform his prayers daily & with full devotion so that at his last moment, the thought of his prayer will appear & this will ensure a good rebirth.

  5. Dear Bro Lim,

    That was the precise reason why I collected all the positive messages from the readers expressing their great appreciation and his good deeds and read them to him before he passed on. A few days before he died, I encouraged him to chant in his heart. As a friend, I could only do so much.

    Chang's Friend

  6. Dear Chang's Friend,
    I am gald you read out those messages and you have done a great deed to him. Saddhu! Saddhu! Saddhu!

  7. Thank you. It is the kindness of the readers who contributed alot with their kind messages to Chang.

    Chang's Friends

  8. This topic of death and the dying process and how we can help ourselves and our family members is often not talked about. Looks like it is a taboo among most faiths.

    Good if our religious leaders can enlighten us.


  9. Dear Chang's friend CF,

    Thank you, Just like others I still click for updates in the blog; and also like others found the continuity by you most impressive. Although Chang & I were colleagues for barely 1 year, I did not realise he could certainly write, he wrote very well and so can you.

    Being free thinker, do find some of the Buddhist thinking difficult to follow, and Michael Lee version of three 'houses' very interesting, anyway as death is inevitable to better prepare for it, to keep a log of your happy moments is a good practice anyway. May be technology would one day allow us to play back all those sweet memory in the brain itself in words or video whatever so that every one dies happily

    Now on different subject, because you disclosed the fact that you took up the job of updating the blog on Chang's behalf when he underwent HIFU treatment in China, and I learned only two members of his family accompanied him there, and now you further disclosed you need to go home to do the update I think I am getting closer to guessing your identity, no, no, I am not gonna disclose it openly, if it is your wish to stay anonymous.



  10. Still on this topic, as someone here had correctly pointed out, a taboo for many. I would like to mention that there's a blog that had helped me personally to get prepared. It dealt with the process of dying and of managing pain, and how the cancer patient and most importantly caregivers can and should prepare themselves.

  11. Dear Chang's friend,

    Do you happen to know the address of CA Care Subang Jaya? If you do, could you please email it to me at