MY FATHER'S FAVOURITE SONG

My father had a favourite song. He used to play it again and again especially in the later years just before he passed away.

The song said that "This world is only a festival of two days. After that, it will all be lifted up and taken away."

It went on to say: "Your eldest son will only go with you as far as the graveyard and that's it. Your wife will only accompany you as far as the door and what you will leave behind is your mansion, your wealth and everything else."

I remember watching him and seeing him really enjoying this song. Some people would hear something like this and say: "That's such a sad song." Yet he understood it well.

The song said: "The only thing you will take with you is that treasure inside. That swan inside, that 'Hans' inside, that perfect spark of the eternal that shines in the very heart of your being. THAT is the only thing that's going to go with you. Deep within you, there is a cup.

That cup will go with you whether it is full or it is empty. It came with you and it will go with you. If you have managed to fill it, you will go a long way. If it is empty, so shall it remain."

My father loved this song. Every word of it. It made him smile. Even when his health wasn't good, he wouldn't just laugh when he heard it. He would get up and dance to it — and act it out. How profound. He knew.

Through that song, he could teach everyone to gather the joy in their lives now. Gather that strength, gather that precious thing. He could remind them to look inside and fill that cup.

My father also had a favourite couplet that he would often recite. It used to make him weep when he said it out loud. It went like this.

"I was being swept away in this river of darkness. The darkness of this world, of this society. And then my master handed me a lamp. The darkness abated; he pulled me out.

He showed me this beautiful place inside of me. And I am now content."

Pasadena, California, USA, 8 November 1991
Alexandria, Virginia, USA, 18 June 2000

This world is only a festival of two days
It will not last forever.

Of what use are the magnificent palaces you build?
Why do you want to amass a fortune?
Of what use will your elephants and chariots be?
You were born with nothing and you will leave with nothing.
You will end your journey carried in a coffin.
This world is only a festival of two days.
It will not last forever.

You imagine that your wealth will benefit you.
But tell me, who has ever really been helped by money?
The saints have always cautioned that you cannot take it with you.
Only that perfect spark of the eternal will remain.
And all your wealth will be left behind.
You will not be able to take a single penny with you.
This world is only a festival of two days.
It will not last forever.

Your friends will only stay until you have breathed your last.
Your wife will only go to the threshold with you.
And your family will leave you at the cemetery,
Your eldest son will perform your last rites and that is it.
After this your only companion is that treasure inside,
The pure swan of soul.

This world is only a festival of two days.
It will not last forever.