Atalwin and his brother perform a ceremony on a beach far from home, and wish their father a safe and swift passage to the other shore.
This was previously published on Basic Goodness.
Seseh, Bali, Indonesia.
It is done. We set our father free. We gave him permission to move on. He will be born again, under a different name and with a different body. I hope he will do a better job next time. Actually, I gave him specific instructions to do so.
What I didn’t know yesterday I heard this morning: Satya would help my brother and me perform a ceremony for our deceased father. I lacked to courage and the confidence to guide my brother through an improvised ceremony and I had asked her for help. Her answer came this morning: yes. And we would do it at 5 pm on the beach, right before sunset.
Yesterday I had told my brother that I would ask Satya for help and asked him if he wanted to be part of it if she would accept. He said yes, too. And the timing was auspicious: it is our mom’s birthday today. It was a good day to set free the father of her children, the man that she once fell so deeply in love with.
I received instructions from Satya and passed them on to my brother. We should collect offerings in the form of fruit, seeds, oil and flowers. I took care of the special offering baskets. It was both weird and uplifting to shop for my father. I realized that I did not know a single preference of his. I didn’t know if he drank beer or wine, what food he liked, what music. Completely nothing. At the same time it felt good: I was finding all the things I needed, the ceremony was in good hands and I had set something in motion that was bigger than me. Something that had been an obstacle for the last few days was now unfolding, something went from stuck to unstuck and gained momentum.
Another part of the preparation was that my brother and me should both write my father a letter. The letter would be burnt and all the energy released. All the pain, resentment, anger, love, sadness, all the unspoken things that were stuck in our minds and hearts could and should be released.
I sat down and I started writing. A lot more anger came out then I had expected. I didn’t find it easy to come into a space of forgiveness. When I was going over our history and the things he did I felt the impulse to not liberate him at all. Let him rot for all the damage he did. But I also realized that this is not how I want to live. And I do want to contribute to the healing of our lineage and I do want him to do better next time. So my letter was pretty much filled with tough love, I guess.
I did let him know that I am grateful to him for one thing: my life. If it weren’t for my parents I would not exist and although I think life is a bitch sometimes and I have to work hard for happiness and truth I am happy to be here. And I am happy with the talents and good characteristics I inherited from him. I blame him for never giving me a good example of what it means to be an honest, stand-up guy and having to figure that out all by myself. But I am happy with the path that came from that search.
When my brother arrived at Kura Kura I was still finishing my letter. Satya was collecting all the things we needed and Sahaj also accompanied us. Together we went to the beach and Sahaj found us the right spot. There is a little bit of mystery going on there. I think he wants the energy of the spot of the ceremony to be exactly right but to me the whole beach looks like beach to me. So I am wondering what he is seeing what I am missing and at the same time I feel trust: I know he will find the right spot.
Satya guided us through a meditation. She asked us to localize the place where we feel our father in our bodies and asked us to connect with the feelings that came up. My brother became emotional. Satya started chanting. Sahaj made a little fire and burned our letters. Then we put seeds in the fire, symbolizing a new beginning for our father’s soul. My brother brought weed seeds. I thought this was a good idea: to provide our father with the kindness and forgivingness of marihuana. We extinguished the fire with water from a special coconut that we drank from first and we put a bit of milk on the fire. This way the seeds could grow and his soon to be unborn baby soul would have some milk. The ashes were gathered by Sahaj and put in the coconut. My brother and I walked to the sea in front of the temple and after reciting a mantra he threw the offerings in the ocean and I threw the coconut with the ashes in the waves.
It was difficult to see my brother cry but I hope the ritual gave him some healing. It is not easy to connect to our wounds but it is better than burying them in our subconscious. For me it is different: I am in the business of digging up dirt and will not rest before everything is bright and shiny. I feel grateful for the beautiful ceremony and I feel grateful for the beautiful souls accompanying and supporting me. I feel we did something good today. If I am not mistaken I feel lighter.
Sentient beings are numberless:
I vow to save them.
Desires are inexhaustible:
I vow to put an end to them.
The dharmas are boundless:
I vow to master them.
The Buddha Way is unsurpassable:
I vow to attain it.
I wish my father Pieter Pilon a safe and swift passage to the other shore. May he find peace and forgiveness. I wish him the strength and the courage to open his heart completely in his next life and hope he will find and spread wisdom and compassion generously and selflessly in that life and in all the lives that will follow.
His last sunset was a memorable one.
We threw the ashes and the offerings from the rock opposite the temple, on the right in the picture above.
Below a short fragment of the burning of the letters: