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Today Adhisthana welcomed 1,200-1,400 friends from many countries. They arrived throughout the morning by coach, train and car, drank 1,800 paper cups of tea and later disappeared into the darkness - after a few momentous and beautiful hours in which we said goodbye to our teacher, Bhante Sangharakshita.
I’d like to offer two impressions from today and some of Dhammarati’s photographs. (Click to see full-frame.)
The arrangements for a high quality Facebook Live online video transmission from the funeral mysteriously failed at the last minute, which meant transmitting the whole thing from a hand-held iPhone (and Clear Vision did manage to broadcast a lot of the ceremony on YouTube). For Candradasa and me, who had intended to present the event live to camera, the prospect of holding this iPhone up in the air for three or four hours wasn’t attractive.
But then messages and hearts started flowing up the Facebook Live screen from some of the thousands of viewers joining in from all over the world: “Hello from Pune”, “Thank you from Taiwan”, “Joining you from China”, “Dawn is breaking in Seattle. Very magical to be a part of this with you all.” There were greetings from Singapore and Mongolia, and from 100 people watching together from a group of villages in India – just one of many such Indian audiences. I knew my own sangha were watching together in the Stockholm Buddhist Centre too, as in many other Triratna centres around the world.
Realising just how many people were watching in so many countries, it was really no problem to hold up an iPhone for several hours.
The Facebook Live footage does not include the burial itself and the YouTube footage includes the burial but lacks some other parts. Happily Clear Vision filmed everything and will produce a properly edited video programme about the day in due course.
Those gathered here included four people from Bhante’s own family, a few of his non-Buddhist friends and about 15 Buddhists from other traditions. Many of them were deeply affected by taking part and commented on what a wonderful experience it had been, what an extraordinary feat of organisation the event represented, and how marvellously they had been taken care of.
To finish, here is the English translation of the text of the song with which the funeral opened: ‘Sunset’ (Abendrot) one of the ‘Four Last Songs’ composed by Richard Strauss.
We have passed through sorrow and joy,
walking hand in hand.
Now we need not seek the way:
we have settled in a peaceful land.
The dark comes early to our valley,
and the night mist rises.
Two dreamy larks sally
forth – our souls’ disguises.
We let their soaring flight delight
us, then, overcome by sleep
at close of day, we must alight
before we fly too far, or dive too deep.
The great peace here is wide and still
and rich with glowing sunsets:
If this is death, having had our fill
of getting lost, we find beauty – No regrets.
+Follow the dedicated Sangharakshita memorial space on The Buddhist Centre Online.
See more photographs from the day at Adhisthana
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