Days of my youth: Experiences with friends. No.1 Taken from life / by Teck Cheng Neo

When Chuangtzu was about to die, his disciples expressed a wish to give him a splendid funeral. But Chuangtzu said, "With Heaven and Earth for my coffin and shell; with the sun, moon and stars as my burial regalia; and with all creation to escort me to the grave, - are not my funeral paraphernalia ready to hand?"

At the age of 15 I experienced the death of a friend. I can't recall his name at the moment and yet from time to time he resurfaces in my mind. I will start with this story of my youth to show how events have shaped my life and how I become who I am.

I remember that he had a scratch on his left lower leg. It became infected and worsen. Further more through incompetent doctors, perhaps, had resulted in an amputation above the knee. I was sadden and shocked as I heard the news of his ill-fate.

After his discharge from hospital I visited him at his home. It disturbed me, to see a  bandaged stump that once was his left leg. He was an enthusiastic footballer and fate had been cruel to my friend. We played carom through most part of the evening, accompanied by jokes and little laughters.

My friend's state awaken mixed feelings in me. I was disgusted with the medical doctors. Many years prior to this event, I underwent a surgery for my badly infected right lower leg. I wasn't completely settled or taken by the anaesthetic's effect and the surgeon had  begun cutting into my wound. I felt a stabbing pain and kicked him with my left leg. I heard a scream, cluttering sounds of surgical instruments, and swinging light spots. Then I blacked out.

I noticed through the evening that he was somewhat different. He appeared to be very mature physically and mentally. He was now gentle in spirit and his being exuded wisdom. His surreal calmness affected me and touch my nature. I saw that his body was luminous and glowed.

That night at home I had difficulty sleeping. It could have happened to anyone of us beside this friend who loved playing football. Confronted by this sad event my mind was not at peace with sleep.

The next day in the morning class, our teacher paled and with a solemn voice, requested that we held a silent minute for our classmate. She informed us that my friend had died in the night. I remembered being really shocked by the news. My friend sad face appeared in my mind and then the next moment his body was in a coffin and rotting right before me. I suffered. In a flash, back to normality and lesson began as usual. Business as usual! I believe that for most of us, our thoughts were not in the books.

My friend's death made me acutely aware of the Impermanence of Life! Yes, his tragic fate was and is a life long lesson for me. Since then I made it a point to discover the nature of Life and Existence, not as I want but as what they are and I am content with my findings. I am happy to relate to the reality of my experiences and not to take heed of the artificial propagandistic reality that floods our mind and spills into our daily habits. Further more it set me on my quest to the questions pertaining to Life and Death.