Time in a small town is slow, oh, so slow. However, the days of the funeral was quick and its over before I know it.
On the grounds of the columbarium a statue of the goddess Kuan Yin stands quietly in solitude, calming the minds of those thrown into emotional chaos by the visit of Death itself.
However, life and death is but part of nature’s cycle and we shouldn’t try to hold on to what is impermanent. Breaking out of the cycle of reincarnation and going home to nirvana for eternity is a good thing.
As an economist its interesting to observe the workings of the business of death at close hand. Most of us might not think of it this way but there are many skills required to handle funeral arrangements. Some of these skills seem simple and straightforward such as knowing the ins and outs of what is involved and being able to answer questions in a firm, definitive manner.
Other skills are physical such as chanting prayers in a singsong manner to lead the departed to the next world whilst executing appropriate hand, arm, leg movements in a skillful manner does not seem as easy as it appears to be. I observed what appeared to be stomping with firm power, posing consecutively in a left / right seven star stance while matching with hand gestures and changing into a single legged stance next plus other sequences. Circling walk around the coffin was part of the ritual and the priest appeared to walk normally but in following him realized that it was only deceptively slow.
The rituals of death has been greatly simplified for today’s modern Chinese society. Its a marked contrast to how it was say 20 years ago. I remember that a long time ago death was messy, noisy and dirty.
Today it is clean, efficient and easy to follow. Sometimes traditions are good to hang onto but for the traditions of death modernizing is a good thing. Whilst death and the practice of martial arts may not seem to have that much in common we can draw parallel lessons from it. The old can be good with many valuable lessons but at high risk of being lost if not transmitted.
However, even if it were to be transmitted without the right person to receive the information the old will still be lost. So statistically speaking for a style to survive it should be taught to as many as possible if only to increase the probability of it surviving for another generation.