Saturday, 13 September 2014

Are you ready for the afterlife?

From the Buddhist point of view, death is a natural part of life which we will all surely have to face sooner or later, whether we like it or not.

The First Noble Truth of the Buddha's teaching is that all beings must experience the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death. It is unavoidable regardless of whether royalty or commoner, rich or poor, strong or weak, death is a man's final destination.
The First Noble Truth- Buddha as a wandering monk, had learnt that all people have one thing in common.

The Lord of Death (Yama) holds the wheel of life, the unenlightened cycle of birth and death (samsara).
There is a process that happens after death which all living beings are caught in an endless cycle of rebirth. Until we stop that continuation, there's continual samsara, continual  repetitive cycle until you make it through your life cycles to Nirvana.

 Those from Bad karma binds a person's soul (atman) to the cycle of rebirth (samsara) and leads to misfortune in this life and poor conditions in the next life.

In Western culture,  if someone's time is up then it's up and the grim reaper will come after them.  No matter where you run, no matter where you hide - you can't cheat death. Just like the horror movie,  Final Destination..No one can outrun death. It will catch up to all of us eventually.
The concept of an angel of Death has existed in many societies, like this Korean Grim reapers taking souls to the afterlife.

Why I bring up the sobering subject of death is because as the older you get, the more fragile you understand life to be. A few months before I went to visit a friend at the hospital who underwent heart bypass surgery and his appearance is quite normal. Not all stories have a happy ending though. A few months later, I received the unfortunate news that my buddy has tragically passed away.

 Is Our Lifespan Determined by God?

You ever heard someone refer to ‘an untimely death’ – we say in the case of someone who has died in their younger years. The deceased has died ahead of their predetermined time – died early.  Most people would  think as it is normal when you've grown old and die but not died young.

My friend died an “untimely” death. In his mere 30's, there are so much of things or goals he may want to achieve, dreams he want to fulfill and life experiences. Like watching his 3 years old daughter grow up or to made the long-awaited trip to Taiwan. All I could think of is that, in the words of  a song by Michael Jackson, "Gone Too Soon".

God is sovereign over our lives. It is God who ordains our lives, the time we are born, and the time we die. (Eccles 3). In fact our appointment with death has already been made, and we should abide by his appointment.

Death is a reality that we can't avoid, and without early-warning signal,  death can strike anytime. Start by doing what's necessary and before it's too late.

Here are some popular steps that should be on everyone’s list.

1. Find something to enjoy about every day and as if it was your last, some day you'll most certainly glad you did. You may have something troubling you but this doesn't stop you from a walk in the sunshine, hugging your spouse or child, or having a good laugh with a friend.

 Chinese Proverbs - Even if the sky falls on you, there is a hole you can escape from.

Charlie Chaplin wrote one of the most meaningful song ever written to
  all those feeling depressed

2. Make a bucket list or a wish list of to-dos before you die.  Most people have compiled a list of things they want to do or places they want to see before your demise. My friend can make up only travel wish list as her bucket list next destinations.

The Bucket List
I had few things in my mind to add to my bucket list, one of them was to try to learn to play drums. I will never see myself attempting something wild like bungee jumping or jumping out of a plane.
3. Sign documents to protect you and your family. Everybody needs a will , you should start planning  earlier than you might think.
If you die without a will or living trust, state law will determine how most of your belongings are distributed, and the the proceeds may not go where intended.
 A Will provides peace of mind – you know that your estate will pass to the people to help ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
4.  By planning ahead, you can protect your loved ones from unnecessary suffering upon your passing. Do the right thing through nominating and updating your nomination, your family members can be secure of receiving your EPF savings without any  hassle in the event of your death.
Keep a certified copy of your beneficiary nomination form, just incase they screw up

5. Life is so short and  passes away like a flash of light ,  so give your loved ones a hug and take every opportunity to tell friends and family how much you love them as we never know.
 As the child grows and develops, the mothers had a very difficult time bonding with their babies. Provided a close mother-son bond, starting from the earliest days and continuing into a man's adult years.
 Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines has a unique way of respecting their elders through performing salim, for example when shaking the hand of older persons, such as parents, grandparents and teachers. The youngsters are expected "kissing"  the right hand of an older person when you greet elders.
Children are taught to respect their elders.  You usually see the school children kissing the hand of their parents hands and most noticing when their parents drop them off at school. Good customary practices can help to build strong bonds of love and respect alive.

Some people don’t say 'I love you' to their parents at all. Others don’t say it often enough.  I do believe that spending time with your parents is important to keep your relationship with each other strong.  Some children has failed to establish  a close bond with its parents and would feel like a total stranger.

6. Planning your funeral- Well, maybe it's too early for some but you might as well plan ahead because you never know when your time is up . It's never too early to start planning. By expressing your own wishes, you may be able to save your survivors of the guesswork entails as they try to figure out what type of arrangement suits you well.

You do not wish to delve into the details but you may lets others know your preferences.

- Grave marker by having unique epitaphs on you head stone really makes them more interesting.
 My favorite epitaphs include, "I told you I was sick"
- Arrange for religious services- It caught us all by surprise when my friend  memorial service was held in Christian funeral practices. This is his secret.

- Consider cremation? Why not go green?  It requires no casket, no embalming, and no land use. Ashes take a small amount of space to keep. My friend says he will opt for a cremation when his time comes. It will further saves time if his ash urn kept at home,  this saves travel time when All Souls' Day is honored and observed. Some people choose to keep ashes at home to feel closer to the deceased. Would you keep the ashes of someone incinerated in an urns inside the house, but it is a bit creepy, isn't it?

- Make a list of everything you wish to included in your services.
a- Write your own obituary. You can give it your own personal touch and you can usually avoid         the boring stuff.
b- Personal letters to your family and friends, you can ask someone to deliver after your demise. Nowadays you can compose a message now, but schedule it to be sent later your Outlook Emails.
c- Select your favourite music or songs for your funeral service. One of the songs that I have on my mind is "Leaving On A Jet Plane" but don't know when I'll be back again".
d- Choose your favourite photograph you like to have on headstone photo. I might as well  to have my portrait photo taken for just this purpose every few years. You'd like to present your best capture moment of photo portrait don't you?
e- Audio or video recordings and video messages to be released and played after/during your   funeral. Perhaps you can end your speech using famous last words, you can use Lord Nelson last words, "Thank God I have done my duty". 
f- As technology advances and becomes an ever-present part of our lives,it is becoming more and    more apparent that one day the funeral home service would provide the the idea of holography.   Hologram technology offers a 3D likeness that can move and speak as if the person were really present. The deceased individuals will record a personalized holograph message that can be delivered to their families after they pass away.
Norman Osborn hologram deliver a speech after his death

While some may choose to live on through unending challenges struggle to survive but some people may feel intensely sad or hopelessness, as if there is no other way out and wants to end his or her life.

On Aug 11, 2014, the world was shocked to learn of the comedian Robin Williams suicide. His death makes no sense. The first things that goes through my mind is how could this happen to him? He has everything a man could want—fame, fortune, and adoring fans.

We will always remember him for his warmth, his humor, smile, laugh and always look very cheerful on the outside but unknown to us inside of him, he  lived a sad life.

Mork Signed Off For The Last Time. RIP, Robin Williams. Nano Nano.

Robin Williams was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson's disease at the time of his death, his wife says. Just a lesson in life, no matter how much money and fame he had it all but if health is at stake doesn't bring a happy life. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Thus bringing the facts that a person may feel happy on the surface but on the inside suffer from mental illness. An important reminder that we must give support to those who suffer from depression and need to treat as serious as other diseases.

When patients are asked to hear the truth when 'breaking bad news', most people  typically go through the Kubler-Ross  model, or the five stages of grief.

Denial ( This isn't happening..this isn't real, this is not suppose to happen)
Anger ( Why is this happening to me? Why me?)
Bargaining ( I'll be good... I promise, I will be a better man)
Depression (I honestly don't care whether or not i die)
Acceptance (Come what may, I'm ready for it)

We are in control of our destiny but have little control over our fate.  Our fate is sealed. The best way is not to fight fate but  accepting your fate, let it workout itself and take as it comes. Just like the song says "Whatever will be will be. The future's not ours to see. Que Sera Sera What will be will be."

Alternatively, you can drown in your own sorrow by getting drunk but it won't change a thing. All you get is splitting headaches after morning.

We can't help it but to think he should be more thankful for the gift of GOD bestowed upon him. He was in the early stages of Parkinson's at the older ages.  It's normal to feel sad and to have anxiety because of this but he can't stomach the thought of it.

Parkinson's  disease is not fatal and do not shortened life expectancy. However, there is no cure and we do not know of any way of slowing its  progression. Some of the better know Parkinson's victims include Michael J. Fox and Mohammed Ali.  Fox was only 30 years old when he was diagnosed. While the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Muhammad Ali at the age of 42 was in apparent good health till he discovered having the same disease.

Muhammad Ali the best boxer of all time
 known for his witty phrases like 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.'

Both  have displayed courage, Muhammad Ali is not giving up the fight and Michael J. Fox battled with the disease himself since the early 1990's. After crossing the charity marathon finish line, saying, "I'm still standing." He was obviously referring to he refuse to give in to the disease and let it overtake his life.

I particularly love this great  motivational quote that will give you the drive to never give up and never give in!

The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

~Rocky Balboa~

Rocky Balboa, the popular boxing character created by Sylvester Stallone

As long as you do not give up there's hope that someday there will be a cure,  may God let this be true.

Robin Williams once said, 'death is nature's way of saying, your table is ready.' Hey, ‘the table was prepared too early' and caught everybody by surprise.

Life is an open book chapter that will not knowing when the end will be. Just recently, one early morning when I was on my way to work, a factory bus suddenly swerve to the left. Next I heard a loud pop that sounds almost like a gunshot. One of the tires busted. Luckily the  bus driver  managed to keep the bus under control and bring it to a stop before it tipped into a drainage ditch.

I dare not say what will happen if the bus was at the back of my car at the time?  Fortunately, nothing terribly happens as I escape a possibly fatal skid situation. Thank God, I'm Safe!

 For this time being, I take a rain check on my table. Some things are in our control and others not. Next time, I may not be so lucky, I try to live my life without that when the time does come I would not say "Hey, wait a minute, I'm not ready yet, there are many things I would still love to".

Remember…life is just a memory. Live happy and healthy lives  before you finally kick the bucket!


  1. Another One Bites the Dust. What I am saying is another work colleague has passed away yesterday morning. Although I do not know him well but still the rest of us feel saddened to learn of the his death. Another friend spoke of a person's life span is generally predetermined the day we were born.
    Whatever you do, you can't escape the natural law created by God calling her/him home.

    He Gone Too Soon. It is nice to know you but we have to bid you a farewell. Go in peace, God be with you Yap KS.

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