“Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby.
To suffer is not enough.”
"Even when the cloud is not there, it continues as snow or rain. It is impossible for a cloud to die. It can become rain or ice, but it cannot become nothing. The cloud does not need to have a soul in order to continue. There’s no beginning and no end. I will never die. There will be a dissolution of this body,
but that does not mean my death."
Sallie B. King is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at James Madison University in the USA. She is the author of numerous publications on Engaged Buddhism, Buddhist ethics, Buddhist-Christian dialogue and the Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion. A Quaker and a Buddhist, she is a former President of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies, a Trustee of the international, interfaith Peace Council, and a member of the Christian and Interfaith Relations Committee of Friends General Conference (a national Quaker organization). She is co-editor, with Paul O. Ingram, of The Sound of Liberating Truth: Buddhist-Christian Dialogues in Honor of Frederick J. Streng, 2003, which won the Frederick J. Streng Award for Excellence in Buddhist-Christian Studies.
Included below are the last few paragraphs of Professor King's article on Thay. A pdf version of the entire article can be downloaded here.
Those of us who have been strongly affected by Thay’s teachings can perhaps see our non-self and interbeing in this teaching. Can we see how we “inter-are” with Thay, how much his teachings have shaped the way we see things, our values and the way we live in the world? Can we see how we each would be a different “me” if we had never encountered those teachings? This is non-self and interbeing. Thay does live on in us. We are his continuation.
In the last years of his life, he “strongly commanded” his students not to place his ashes in a stupa. He wrote:
I have a disciple in Vietnam who wants to build a stupa for my ashes when I die. He and others want to put a plaque with the words, “Here lies my beloved teacher.” I told them not to waste the temple land.
“Do not put me in a small pot and put me in there” I said. “I don’t want to continue like that. It would be better to scatter the ashes outside to help the trees to grow.”
I suggested that, if they still insist on building a stupa, they have [a] plaque say, “I am not in here.” But in case people don’t get it, they could add a second plaque, “I am not out there either.” If still people don’t understand, then you can write on the third and last plaque, “I may be found in your way of breathing and walking.”
In accordance with his wishes, Thay’s ashes are to be scattered around the world on the grounds of monasteries and practice centers belonging to the Order of Interbeing, his continuation.