Friday, June 13, 2008

Ashes to ashes… dust to dust...

I’m reminded of this phrase during the act of throwing earth onto the coffin in the funeral scene when I encountered these two incidents.

Tiny creatures
Last year, my parents’ house was infested with termites. It seemed that it originated from my neighbour’s vacant house (two houses away from my house). Oh yeah, I live in a terrace house so it’s easier for termites to move. Therefore, when my neighbour sprayed insecticide, these little pest traveled on next door to my neighbour’s house. Then my next-door neighbour quietly sprayed insecticide on his own place.
The next day, somehow my mum was looking at the bookshelf in the living room. What a horror! They have created a nest inside the shelf above some books overnight. My brother’s collection of Christian books (by C.S.Lewis) were eaten in half!! It happened so fast. Precious books and other decorative items were turned into dust. These little creatures devoured selected items but smart enough not to wreck the whole shelf first.

I wanted to take a picture of the nest but my mum forbade me.

Anyhow, when I saw that, I realized how meaningless it is to hoard treasures on earth. These material things are so impermanence and temporary. What is the point of keeping your precious collection of books or limited edition comics or even figurines, clothes, shoes, toys, etc? At a blink of an eye, they’ll just perish like as a tornado devouring everything in its path.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."(Matthew 9:19-21)

I remember reading this joke in Reader’s Digest relating this. It goes something like this:

Before an ailing man died, he placed all his treasure and money in the attic. He told his wife that when he died, he will carry it along the way up to heaven. That night, he died peacefully.

The next morning, his wife went up to the attic to find all his treasures still there.

She told her friend, “I told him he should have put them in the basement”.

(She’s implying he went down to hell!! :P)

Accidental death

For the past two years, I traveled through Klang town. Along the road, I always encountered a number of road kill. Once, there were at least 3 road kill along my path. These pitiful dogs were left by the road after getting hit by an inconsiderate driver.
Everyday, I passed by them. I grimaced whenever I drove by and made sure my car avoided their carcasses. As months pass, their body disintegrate slowly into ashes. Everyday, I wonder if we humans would treat each other like that. I know of this case, where a man was found dead on a subway car near the start of the morning rush hour, raising the possibility that his lifeless body rode the train for several hours overnight. This happened in New York.

In a way, it shows we are too preoccupied with ourselves to notice about others. When someone dies, we mourn and then we move in. But we still have memories with the person to remember by as time goes by. These animals which were once pets or not, don’t have such a privilege. They died horribly and their physical self just naturally perish.

These ashes remind me of our impermanent life here. Our physical body is just a temporary vehicle for our soul. Even though we work hard to keep fit and enjoy life, we neglect the very important permanent self – our soul.

What is the point of looking good and flexing your muscles to pretty girls, when inside, your soul is crying and lonely. Your soul longs for food.

I believe, many of us do the mistake of using another person to fill this void. But it is not possible. Only one person can fill our void and hunger. That’s God.

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