Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Memory of my friend, Sheila B.

Today I went to a Buddhist memorial service for my friend, Sheila B.  She was a wonderful woman, a professional modern dancer, and artist, a poet, a patron of the arts and a wonderful kindergarten teacher.  She was my friend and fellow SGI Buddhist member and I will miss her.   

The Buddhist service was uplifting and lovely, just like Sheila.  The SGI Community Center was packed full, so many people were touched by her life.  This quote from Daisaku Ikeda fits Sheila, "Live with a dancing Spirit.  The stars in the heavens are dancing through space, the earth never ceases to spin.  All life is dancing: the trees in the wind, the waves on the sea, the birds, the fish, all are performing their own dance of life.  Every living thing is dancing, and you must keep dancing too, for the rest of your life." (Buddhism Day by Day, p. 394)  I am reminded that in the Lotus Sutra, we, the Boddhisattvas of the Earth, emerged dancing from the earth to join the ceremony in the air, and that the ceremony in the air is not ended.   

Sheila was the perfect example of someone who learns to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and extends her life.  In her case by 20 years.  She started chanting because she was having chronic heart trouble, had just had a serious heart attack and was in pretty scary physical shape.  After she began chanting her health was restored.  Over the years she raised her daughters and launched them off into their own lives.   She supported lots of live classical music and live dance, painted many paintings, taught children, taught dance and generally lived a very full life.  In the last couple of years she was fighting the progressive heart failure again and it finally took her peacefully in her sleep on the 20th of April.  Sheila loved to read the Daily Guidance and this was the one for the 20th of April, "From the time that I was born until today, I have never known a moment's ease; I have thought only of propagating the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra.  I do not know how long I or anyone else may live, but without fail, I will be with you at the time of your death and guide you from this life to the next." (the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 965). 

Bon Voyage, Sheila. 

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