Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A Lament For Lost Souls

I have not written anything about the disaster in Asia because the magnitude of it has been so...I can't even think of a word for how it makes me feel. Yesterday I looked at the list of blogs I read and clicked on Sharp Sand: Joseph Duemer Reads & Writes ( and scrolled back through his entries written after Christmas. I found this, lines from a poem called Chieu Hon or A Lament For Lost Souls:

In many Asian cultures, those who die without relatives to mourn for them & perform the ritse for the dead are thought to wander for eternity. In Vietnam, there is a day in Autumn dedicated to honoring those wandering souls:

Those persons bound for separate destinies,
stray souls and vagrant ghosts—where are they now?
They crouch against a dike, behind a bush.
They dwell where rivers spring, where earth meets sky.
They lurk in clumps of grass, in shade of trees.
They hover near this hostel, haunt that bridge.
They find asylum at some shrine, some church.
They make abode in market towns and ports. [ . . . ]
All creatures of ten classes, are you there?
Women and men, you young and old, all come!
All enter Buddha’s house and hear his word!
This life is just a bubble or a flash. [ . . . ]
At [Buddha’s] behest, we set a bowl of soup
and incense candles on the hallowed board.
We offer paper gold and paper clothes
to help you speed your heavenward ascent.
All who have come, be seated and partake:
spurn not these trifles, gifts of our goodwill. [ . . . ]
To all, he brings compassion and release:
no longer fear the curse of life and death . . . .

I don't know how long these lost souls will haunt me but I wish them a speedy ascent to heaven and peace.

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