Sunday, 6 January 2013

In Memory of Uncle Looi - "If you don’t wake up to experience the sunrise, you will miss it!”

The new year kicked off to a solemn start because on the second day of 2013, my friends' father passed away.   

I got to know Uncle Looi only about 10 months ago. Technically, it was the time when he was already diagnosed with cancer. He is the father of my friends from the buddhist centre, Gaden Shartse Dro-Phen Ling. I was not acquainted to him earlier because he was working in Malaysia most of the time. 

For someone whom I just got acquainted with in such a short time, Uncle was very supportive of me. He kept on giving me encouraging words relating to my job whenever we meet.  Uncle said, "Slowly build up your clients... now you go look for them but later just watch...they come looking for you. Patience rewards!.... Just give your signature smile always..... This is the secret formula to a successful career lah!"

Uncle Looi also followed my blog during the last few months.  From my conversations with him, I knew he read and remembered what I wrote, especially my snippets on Dharma. And he "Like" all my posts in Facebook, especially those of food. He loved food. During the Grand Puja in February last year, he bought me a cup of kopi and I said, "Thanks alot, Uncle. My treat next time!".  Then during the next Grand Puja in August, when he became visibly thinner and weaker and he was resting at my booth (which I was volunteering in), again he bought a cup of kopi for me. Again I remembered thinking to myself, "Oh oh, I still owed him a cup of kopi!" 

I just saw Uncle's Facebook wall, and this photo which he posted.  I went lunch with Uncle Looi about 2 months ago. It was my first time and last time eating with him.  I remember he said the Jalan Sultan Prawn Mee shop served the best noodles and he was craving for the pigtail and bak kut noodles. As the shop was near my house, I had an impromptu lunch arranged with him. I had wanted to buy him lunch. However I was quite late, and he could not wait any longer and ordered his noodles before I arrived. We had a good chat and I finally bought him a cup of kopi. 

For someone who was sick, he was always cheerful and he had great faith in the Three Jewels.  He said to me, "If you have faith in Protector and Buddha, of cos he will take care of you. And there is no doubt in you, I can see that.  Hope you can do bigger role in Dharma activities in near future. I rejoice in all your good works! Keep it up!"

When I saw Uncle on New Year's Eve at his home, his body was left with just bones and he was very weak.  I asked, "How are you, Uncle?". He replied teasingly, "I wish I am in your shoes" and gave a weak smile as he drifted off to semi-consciousness. I knew the time was near. My friend Jamie could not believe her father could still utter those words, as he had not crack a joke in the last 2 weeks.   

By pure coincidence, I was around when Uncle Looi passed away on the second day of 2013. This was probably the first time in my life I saw someone die right before my eyes. It was a very peaceful passing. He left with a smile. I do believe there is some sort of affinity I have with Uncle. As a Buddhist, I believe in rebirth and I believe Uncle and I must have known each other somehow in our previous lifetimes, even though it was a very brief acquaintance in this lifetime. He was very encouraging and supportive like a father figure.  I am humbled by his children's filial piety as I saw how they love him, and tried to make his final days as happy and bearable as possible, as well as creating tons of merits on his behalf. 

Uncle, I know you have gone for a very good rebirth, through your pure faith in the Gurus,  the Three Jewels and Protector as well as their blessings. Thanks for being a friend and teaching me a great Dharma lesson on impermanence. 

Buy you kopi and century pork porridge soon, Uncle. My treat next time. 

Below is a great sharing from my dear friend Jamie on her father. Om mani padme hum.

Uncle Looi with our most venerable late Guru, Lati Rinpoche. This is Uncle Looi's favourite photo.

A little sharing on my father's passing: Alvin Looi Eng Sai (1957~2013)

by Jamie Looi on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 5:00pm. 

Dear friends, thank you very much for all your messages of comfort and condolences for myself and the family on Facebook, sms and email. We read every single message and feel touched by everyone's kindness. Pappy's cremation was completed yesterday. Everything over the past 3 days was so smooth and bearable for us because of the support and help that poured from many of you. Thank you for coming to the wake to extend your love and comfort to the family. We are very appreciative and thankful to have relatives, friends and colleagues like yourselves. 

Pappy’s passing away was an enlightening dharma lesson for us. It was a practical class for us to witness how and when the process of dying began, and to see signs when the body elements dissolve. I have attended a few times of the class “Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth” by Lati Rinpoche and Dagyab Rinpoche, and also read the book authored by Lati Rinpoche. What we all witnessed over the final days further reinforced what we learnt in the teachings. 

During the last days, albeit not very clear, Pappy could still relate the changes happening in his body, I remember being secretly awed when all his bodily experiences aligned with the details in the book. It was a sad fact for me to understand that the death process has taken place, but at the same time also amazing for me to feel the words in the book ‘coming alive’. The knowledge of dharma empowered us to be calm, strong, to accept, and to focus on doing the best for him at this time of death. 

On the last 2 days, as I saw him get weaker and weaker, I asked if he would like to do any offerings. He told me to withdraw all his money from the bank to make offerings to the Sangha. I told him "Ok Pappy, we will take your money to do pujas, we will do food offering to the Sangha. Food offering is very great merit.. And we will also get buddha statues in your name ok?" He was very rejoiceful upon hearing, and lying on his bed, he nodded profusely and exclaimed “Yes yes! Yes, do!” 

My father was not a rich man. He did not have a lot of money, but his heart was truly so pure towards the dharma; he did not feel the least attached to his money and was very happy to do all those offerings. That really touched my heart and I felt so proud of him....... 

On the last night before he passed away, Mummy reinforced and reminded him the visualisation method to always keep his Gurus at his heart, on an 8-petal lotus closed tight. She also reminded him to always do his MANI recitation at all times. Dharma practice was the only thing that could help him at that time. On and off, I recited out loud: OM MANI PADME HUNG, just as a subtle reminder to lead him in his practice. 

Pappy had very strong faith in the Three Jewels - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. He was also very lucky to have received teachings on death & bardo before in his lifetime. We had also discussed this topic (in a skillful way) a few times during the one-year period when he was ill with cancer, on intention to increase his awareness so that he could help himself at the time of death. Pappy was very confident of the Three Jewels and had no doubt that they are the refuge which he sought in. He was not fearful of dying, he knows what he needs to do when the time comes. 

On the 1st day of New Year, throughout the night till 6:30am, I sat beside Pappy. In between his sleep, I heard him reciting his Mani mantra in his murmurs. It was great comfort to know that he was in peace, without any disturbances, and very focused with his prayers. Then, the next day at 12:33pm, he passed away. Smoothly, quickly and without pain. I quickly put some holy sand mandala onto the crown of his head as I noticed his heavy breathing has stopped. We chanted Mani mantras and blew into his ear as blessings. Pappy passed away with a smile on his face. Everything was very auspicious. 

Special thanks to our dearest Dagyab Kyabgoen Rinpoche for his guidance and prayers for Pappy all this time especially during the time of death. Special thanks to our beloved Great Healing Lama Kangyur Rinpoche also, for his divinations, blessings and dedications for my father during the period he was ill and also at the time of his death. Thank you to his attendants Penpa-la and Dawa-la who had also given me so much support all this time. 

Special thanks to dear Phuntsok-la & Geshe Tsepak Choephel who had rushed immediately to my home to conduct the Guru Puja for my father upon learning the news of his passing. 

Special thanks to Geshe Jinpa & Sonam-la who specially rushed down overnight from India to Singapore just for my dad’s pujas at the wake. 

Special thanks to dear Khen Rinpoche Geshe Jangchup Choeden (abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery) for the puja at my father’s wake too. We feel touched and honoured by your presence. 

Special thanks also to the 1,500+ monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery for all the prayers for my father’s smooth transition into his next life, thank you for conducting the pujas in the monastery in such quick time that night. All of you have done so much for my father and we are deeply touched by all this kindness. 

Special thanks to everyone who had contributed to all these perfect conditions for Pappy’s smooth transition for a favourable rebirth. We are deeply comforted that everything went so smooth and so well. Really! This is the greatest blessing one can ever receive at the time of his death. 

We shared Pappy’s final journey with many friends at the wake, and they had requested to know more in details, so that everyone could understand better and benefit more at the time of death. My mum Karen has agreed to give a discussion on the dying process, and to share our first hand experience and the signs we saw on my father’s passing. I agree this would be a very beneficial topic to share on, because death is a critical process we should all need to prepare well; then only can we transit smoothly into our next and favourable rebirth. With this understanding, we can help ourselves and also help guide our loved ones when the time is near. This is very important. 

It is such coincidence that H.E. Dagyab Rinpoche is going to confer the teachings on: DEATH, INTERMEDIATE STATE & BARDO on 16th, 17th, 18th January (3 sessions). We request all of you who are interested to learn, come attend these teachings. Kindly refer to for the program schedule.

Mummy’s discussion/sharing will follow after Rinpoche’s discourse, date/time to be advised at a later date. Kindly register with Mui or Mari @ 63449521, 63420806 if you would like to be informed of this discussion date. 


For us, it is another big experience on impermanence. But with the blessings and guidance of our great Gurus, understanding of the Dharma, and extraordinary support from the Sangha, the family is coping very well. The Three Jewels are undoubtedly our ultimate refuge. Take some time to prioritize goals in life, and certainly we should all also make dharma learning and practice a priority. Time waits for no man. I quote Pappy in one of his facebook chats telling his friend: “All dharma teachings are very beneficial to us. It is just like the sun, if you don’t wake up to experience the sunrise, you will miss it!” 

Teachings actually don’t come by everyday like the regular sun…... but anyhow, I still thought this was a very cute and still applicable statement from him that I wish to share. So for anyone of us who are still sleeping, let’s take his advice and wake up now. 

My best wishes to all of you. :) 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stump,
    Looking at how much both of u click, it is surprising to know that you only knew my dad for 10 months. Thank you for keeping him company during his last 10 months. Even if you are not physically around, ur blog will do the job, and he often tells me how well you can write, a natural writer he calls you, and a person with genuine heart. :) Thank you once again for being there whenever he needs help.


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