Parting Shots ~ Emails from Abhinyana

Letter/Emails from Thay Abhinyana

All recipient names are removed from the original emails from the Reverend and replaced with ‘Dear Friends’.

November 28th, 2007. 4.16pm
Dear Friends,

I toyed with the idea this afternoon that if the tests show that I'll need chemo, I might decline, gird up my loins, and wander on, seeing what will happen, and knowing that my time is limited (isn't everyone's?) Having heard of what it will probably be like, I don't think I want to go through with it, especially when there's no certainty that the monster will be slain. Ah, but there we go again, imaging all kinds of things.

Are you having fun or what?

Thay Abhinyana.

December 3rd, 2007. 12.40pm
Dear Friends,

You might take this worse than I did:
One of the doctors I saw this morning gave me the results of last week's PET-scan, and it shows that the octopus has spread its tentacles and is now in 4 places. An operation at this point seems out of the question, so it will probably be chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but I don't know when it will start. The doctor changed my medication to try to get my blood sugar down; I'll start on that tomorrow. She also told me that they were unable to get the scope down into my stomach, so obviously the gullet has constricted since Dr. Ravi had a look down.

Hope you are all well.
Thay Abhinyana.

December 4th, 2007. 4.15pm
Dear Friends,

No doubt you are waiting to hear of the final results.

Well, I had my head-scan this morning, but it showed nothing amiss, and this afternoon, got the verdict of all these tests, but I'd heard most of it yesterday. I must have a biopsy on my right hip on Friday, to confirm that the cancer's spread to the bone there, as seems to be the case. From what I gathered, treatment won't start for another couple of weeks or so, and at best, will only be able to control the malignancy; it's not sure that it will reach a point where they'll be able to operate. What it indicates to me is that I've not got the 10 more years that I'd earlier said would be enough for me.

Yen Ha visited me this evening and stayed for a while. I'll have dinner with her and Thong Phap on Thursday in an Italian restaurant, so I'll get my desired spaghetti and Italian bread.

So, that's my news. Hope you are all well there.

Thay Abhinyana.

December 5th, 2007. 1.42am
Dear Friends,

Nothing else you can do than be yourself, it's enough for me. We've known each other for long enough; we know our weaknesses and strengths.

Forgot to tell you this, but while I was in Sabah, I even thought of waiting until I got to Delhi to get a scan done there, instead of bothering you to take me for one. Good job I didn't, eh?

This morning, the doctor breaking the news to me seemed to be more upset than me, and I felt it was my place to console her than she me. Really, I've met so many nice people in this hospital ~ just like last time ~ in fact, I've not met anyone there who wasn't nice!

And tomorrow, I'll take my voice-recorder with me to record the assessment; hope I can get the thing to work; it's such a tricky thing, and eats up the batteries like mad!

I'm thinking of a title for our new book ~ ahead of writing it (well, I've started already, with the poems I sent you) ~ either, "The Eye of the Storm", or "Parting Shots". Which do you like? I think I know.

But we must be realistic; we're all dying.

This is a time when you can see who are your real friends. Others just fall by the wayside.

I won't try to put you off coming, but wait a while to see how things go; I might need you to bust me out of the hospital.

I've been thinking of what I'll say during my talk at the temple on Sunday. Hope it'll come alright.

Guess that's all for now, so I'll stop here. Hope you are all well and having fun.

Thay Abhinyana.

December 12th, 2007. 12.39pm
Dear Friends,

After seeing the radiation specialist this morning, I can now give the results of last Friday's biopsy: The octopus's spread is confirmed, and it's in my breastbone, as well as the hip. We discussed treatment ~ radiation ~ getting nuked ~ chemotherapy, a combination of both, or neither. In any case, it will be some weeks before it begins. The radiation would home in on a particular spot ~ the main tumor in the gullet ~ and zap it, so that it shrinks; the chemo was be kind of general, and attack all the parts of the octopus. Both have side- effects, and will knock me down.

I was also taken to see a diabetes nurse, who instructed me how to inject myself with insulin, of which I was given a supply as well as the injecting- device; I'll give myself the first shot this evening before dinner (I had a trial-injection without insulin, and it wasn't very painful; I'll manage).

Hope you are all well there.
Thay Abhinyana.

December 13th, 2007. 12.27pm
Dear Friends,

My insulin-injection didn't produce the hoped-for results, and I was instructed to increase the dosage. It will take some time, of course, to decide upon the correct dosage. I inject into my abdomen, but am surprised that there's not as much belly-fat as there used to be!

It was harder to swallow this morning and I had more pain, later, I took some Panadol to relieve it. Lunch wasn't so bad; someone had brought cheesy-macaroni and curried potatoes, hmm!

Well, having had some time to think about things, I intend to discuss with Sujith about not going for the treatment. I heard from someone else that he understands this. He was with me yesterday when I got the results, so he knows it's quite far gone. I don't want to go through the treatment when there is little chance of success, so I must prepare myself ~ and you must, too ~ in what time I have left. This doesn't mean I'm giving up, as I'll try other things, but we must be realistic and not hide from the fact that, no matter what we do, we will all die; it's just a matter of time. And anyway, as you know, I've been ready to go for some time ~ long, long before I learned about this octopus.

BWFWE? Thay Abhinyana.

December 21st, 2007. 2.09pm
Dear Friends,

Prepare yourself, because I'm sorry to tell you that the news is worse than expected: it is more advanced than we thought, and when I asked the oncologist how long he thought I might have, with or without treatment, he said a year at max. There, you have it, and unless whatever else I'm trying kicks in and prolongs my life, I must get ready to go, sooner than I thought, and maybe much sooner ~ a matter of 4 - 6 months.

With the 1 in 4 chance of controlling it by chemotherapy, I won't go for the treatment, and I hope you won't try to change my mind. And don't think of coming to visit me unless I deteriorate sharply and am unable to return to Malaysia.

Nilukar and Dr. Deepal accompanied me, and afterwards, he asked me what I thought of the options I'd been given, and when I told him I'd already made up my mind before seeing the oncologist, he didn't try to dissuade me and was in fact, fully supportive. Sometime next week, I'll probably see the social-worker of the hospital ~ otherwise known as the palliative-care worker ~ and discuss possibilities with her, including the use of my body for medical research should I die here. At this point, we must think of everything while we can. All this doesn't mean I'm giving up. I must have told you that during my upcoming talks, I intend to tell everyone how to get their chi flowing and ask them to send it to me; this could have quite an effect.

A friend stopped by today while I was at the hospital and left some things she had got from a naturopath for me, which have proved quite helpful in cases such as mine. I'm riding on the wings of love as well as Dharma.

And today, for the first time in several years, we had some decent rain, but it seems to have passed now; it won't have done much to alleviate the severe drought we're in.

That's all my news for now, but rest assured that I'm as I was about all this ~ not too upset.

Hope you are all well there.
Thay Abhinyana.

January 8th, 2008. 2.20am
Dear Friends,

I was having a bad day yesterday. I took some morphine-based syrup, and it helped he pain somewhat. There's no way of knowing ~ short of another scan ~ how far it's gone and how fast it's moving, but the fact that I'm still giving talks shows I've not given up.

No doubt it will get worse than it is if nothing is done to halt it. I'll make an effort this morning and go for a walk; I've become really lazy lately, and the heat doesn't help.

However, we had a cooler day and night, so I'll venture out at 5:30pm, there's a nice walking route near here.

Lunch was a bit hard to start with, but I recovered and made it. It's not easy to know what to say when people ask what I'd like to eat, as I've seen that things don't turn out as I'd like them.

Hope you are all well there.
BWFWE? Thay Abhinyana.

January 20th, 2008. 5.37am
Dear Friends,
Excuse me for not recognizing you on Friday. It's been a while since we last communicated, and I didn't expect you.

Yes, Yen Ha's son was quite emotional. I since learned that it was because he was thinking that I might not have much longer to live. He was alright afterwards.

Apart from the increasing pain and difficult in eating, I'm alright, and I hope I can remain without needing someone to help me until the end.

I spoke with my sister in Queensland yesterday, and she's happy that I've decided to spend 2 or 3 days with her before flying out to Malaysia on 5th of Feb; we'll have a lot to talk about, but she's sure to be sad when I leave.

Hope you are all well there.
Best Wishes from (Rev.) Abhinyana.

23th January 2008 9.25 PM
Dear Friends,

It seems you are under the impression that I've left Australia already, but I'm in Melbourne, due to go to Brisbane on the 28th, and from there to Malaysia on 5th of Feb., although I'm having second thoughts about that. My condition is deteriorating, and if I'm not well enough, I won't go to Malaysia; maybe I'll return to Adelaide.

I am not sure if I'll make it from Melbourne to Brisbane on the 28th, let alone to Malaysia on the 5th. If I'm no better than I am, I probably won't go, but will return to Adelaide instead, where everything has been arranged ~ or soon will be ~ for my final days. I reserve the right to change my mind at any time, as my condition changes. I will keep you informed.

I hope you are all well there.
Best Wishes from (Rev.) Abhinyana.

24th January 2008 9.25 PM
Dear Friends,

A temple is ~ or should be ~ a place where people can learn something and grow spiritually.

Since she did her meditation-course, Yen Ha realized that the Way is inside herself. I'm very pleased with her.

Feel under no obligations, as you have other things to do and must be able to choose freely. If you want to help, do so, but if you don't want, or are unable to, don't feel shy to tell them so.

Chinese New Year is a cultural thing. I hope you'll enjoy spending it with your parents, because you won't always be able to.

Best Wishes from (Rev.) Abhinyana

February 26th, 2008. 5.37am
Dear Friends,

Needless to say, I'm not too happy about the octopus, but neither am I unhappy about it. I've just accepted it and am letting it take its course; it saves me going up to the snow-fields, but I do wish it would be quicker about it. I would like to see you again, of course, but there's no way of knowing if I'll still be around by April. If I am, there'll be time to book your flight at short-notice, I guess.

Hope you are all well there.
Thay Abhinyana.

February 28th, 2008. 9.28am
Subject: The moment is mine.
Dear Friends,

I'm not an invalid yet, and am still able to do things. What I can do I should do, while I can. The moment is mine.

This morning, I got an email from someone in Malaysia containing the standard ~ but meaningless ~ Buddhist blessing: "MAY YOU BE WELL AND HAPPY ALWAYS". It is meaningless because it's impossible, and I'll tell him so when I reply. Always? Not even the Buddha was always well and happy! When people say this to me, I say, "Oh please, no; don't wish me that, but wish me something that's possible, like more understanding, for example." We should think before we speak. This would mean saying a lot less, but what we say would make more sense.

I hope you are all well there.
Best Wishes from Thay Abhinyana.

March 4th, 2008. 9.30am
Dear Friends,

What made me most sad about the refugee-situation was not so much the awful suffering, but the fact that so few of the refugees seemed to have learned so little from it. If they'd learned something from it, as you did ~ even though it was not immediate, the suffering wouldn't have been so bad. You know, I met a number of people in their countries of resettlement who told me that, although they called themselves Buddhists before, they understood very little about Buddhism until they became refugees. I always tried to present things realistically, without holding out false promises or hope. Not many people wanted this, however, and the Christian missionaries were far more successful that I was, with things that had to be taken on belief, without proof. Buddhism is really not for the faint-hearted, and I don't agree with diluting things to suit people's taste, until there's no flavor left at all. We must adapt ourselves to the Dharma, as the Dharma will never adapt itself to us and our desires or wishes.

I remember going for alms around the camps; it was a good way of saying something without words.

Best Wishes from Thay Abhinyana.

March 8th, 2008. 11.04am
Dear Friends,

Nice to get your email, though I thought you'd forgotten about me. I guess you're quite busy; such is the way things often are here. How do you find living in Oz, now you've had time to adjust? I'm often reminded that, in some ways, we're living in heaven here, because I've been in places that, by no stretch of the imagination, could conditions be described as that.

I mean, the full-cost of some of the medication I'm on, and for which, with a health-care-card, I pay only $5 or $10, is $100's. I know that this is not the way to describe heaven, but care and kindness I experienced throughout the extensive tests I underwent in SA's best state hospital ~ the Royal Adelaide Hospital ~ was so heartwarming, that I wrote to the Hospital Administation afterwards to tell of how I felt. I'm attaching it for you, thinking you might find it interesting.

Many years have passed since we met in TBS; that was when I was just starting out on my Dharma- missionary work, naive and inexperienced, but you have to start somewhere with anything, and although I've changed and like to think it's been for the better, my ideas are basically the same, based on my experiences of Dharma before I became a monk, or even became a Buddhist, as such. Only I can tell of that, however, as I've kept in touch with no-one from those days who could vouch for it.

You know, whenever we meet someone, or whose path crosses ours even for just a moment, and whether we are aware of it or not, like it or not, our lives are changed forever thereby, and we cannot delete it. This is the truth of Anatta. There is very little ~ if anything at all ~ that we can call 'I' or 'mine'; most of us is 'not-I', and our lives are greatly enriched by the people we meet. If we were asked to tell our story ~ the story of our life ~ without mentioning anyone or anything else, what could we say? Could we say anything at all? we are certainly not nothing, but something much, much more than we think of as 'I', 'Me' and 'Mine'. In fact, upon examination and analysis of anything, we find everything involved in it ~ everything, the whole universe!

With our fearful self-concern, however, we try to catch the wind in a bottle, as it were; at the heart of all our pious practices is to be found the ego, like a spider at the center of its web, trying to control everything, or like a dog running round and round in circles, trying to catch its own tail. There's no need to do anything special; we just need to see what we call the ordinary, because herein and nowhere else, may the special be found.

I hope you and yours are all well there.
Best Wishes from (Rev.) Abhinyana.

March 9th, 2008. 1.50am
Dear Friends,

Here's a quotation I got from a book called "Om" that I read some years ago; it stuck in my mind: "There is no such thing as sacrifice; there is only opportunity to serve." No doubt you've seen at the Otts and other places the emphasis people place on doing good and 'serving'; how can people like that learn?

This is such a dark house; no matter which window you sit by, little light comes in because of the trees and foliage outside; I must turn a light on, even in the daytime, to read a book or see my keyboard, and that goes against my green inclinations.

I've always been an early riser; getting up early has never been a problem for me, unlike with brother George, who had to be called many times, to persuade him to raise his head; we were so different, he and I. This morning, however, I awoke very hungry, about 1:30, and upon finding my bsl to be 2.8 (I'd taken 40 mls of insulin last night, but didn't eat much afterwards), ate something quickly, and after a while reading my incoming mail and some of the news, nodded off to sleep and awoke again at 6:30, still sitting in my chair. I turned off my computer and slept again until 9:45. Sheila and Frank had gone to their market, so I took the opportunity of being lazy. Took 21 mls of morphine-syrup (they'd assured me I could take even more without fear of o.d.-ing on it. I then had quite a good motion, having taken a strong dose of senna-pod tea last night.

Yesterday, I got a call from a young guy in Sydney named Duc, who I'd met in August, saying he'd like to visit me here, and because he was quite adamant about it, I bent my rule again, as I did for you. He just called again to say he'd booked a flight for Tuesday morning, and will fly to Noosa. He'll return that evening after spending some hours with me. I must get extra rest in the morning.

I told him that I'd not heard from anyone in the Sydney temple where I'd met him, and wondered if I'd done anything wrong; I mean, I have not got a single word or sign from anyone there to my emails ~ you know how it's a custom of mine to write to people in the place I've just left), my text-messages or my letter; when this happens, I always search my mind to see if the fault is somehow mine, but I could find nothing. He threw
some light on this by telling me that many things had happened after I left (though not because of me), and that most of the monks and nuns had left, either back to Vietnam or to other temples; Duc himself seldom goes there, and I imagine he's quite disillusioned, as he wanted to become a monk eventually.

I've an appointment with the doctor tomorrow morning, and after that will go shopping for a printer, which I need at times. You know the little Zen story of a teacher who was fond of pointing out something good in things around him, don't you? One day, his students decided to test him to see how far he would go. Pointing to the rotting carcass of a dog beside the road, the spokesman of the group asked him, "Master, can you see anything positive about this stinking corpse?" "Yes", said the teacher, "What beautiful teeth"!

And what is it but love to care enough about others to share their lives and try to bring about some elevation ~ to point out latent abilities and potential, to show them different ways of looking at things, to help them to find themselves? This is why I didn't allow fear of very real danger prevent me from going to places like Pakistan, Iran or Turkey. I can imagine repeating what I did on a bus in the desert in Pakistan in '70, singing the children's song, "This Old Man", until, before long, everyone in the crowded bus ~ from fierce rifle-toting, turbaned, bearded tribesmen, to their Burqa-clad women, were singing along with me, but all they could make out of the words was "This Old Man, This Old Man", over and over again. And another time, at a bus-top in the desert of Afghanistan, I got off with everyone else to stretch my legs, and began playing a single-stringed Indian instrument I'd made and carried with me. Soon, all the people from the bus, and passengers from other buses, too, gathered around me, clapping their hands and tapping their feet ~ some were even dancing ~ and I was plied with gifts of water-melon and tea ~ things to appreciate in desert conditions. I had the ability to make people laugh. This is not to say I only had good times in places like this, as there were hard and dangerous times too, when I had to live on my wits.

When you write about me, do it fairly and objectively, knowing it will be read by people completely unknown to us. You could tell of your first impressions, and how you later came to see me differently, but I don't expect flattery, and won't have that; on the other hand, better not say too much about my negativities, which I know about only too well. If you're able to, say something about my 'work', and what, if anything, you've
learned from/through me. Now, even though you've known me only 4 years, in some ways, you know me much better than some of the others do, as you've read and re-read all my books and is much deeper into Dharma than them.

The Group of Five are all Chinese, from different countries, which is why I wanted to add some non-Chinese/Asians. Thong Phap has already signed in, but there's nothing from Sue yet. I've just heard from Indian/Singaporean Sailesh to say he's very pleased to join us; he asked for the contact details of the others.
I told Victor when I called him last night, that because I'm still well enough, you could/should send your efforts to me directly for my perusal and checking. I'm open to suggestions about a new title.

Yesterday, I asked Sheila if she'd like to write something in my 'souvenir-book' that you started for me, knowing full-well when I did so, that her effort would be nothing at all like some of the things that others had written. I told her to take her time, but I won't be surprised if she says that nothing will come into her mind; I won't push it. We live in different worlds that only occasionally bump into each other.

And with that, I'll stop here, hoping you are all well.
Best Wishes from BWFWE?

March 10th, 2008. 7.29pm
Dear Friends,

El Dorado wrote something for "Shots" and sent it to me, but in my response, I told him that what I had in mind was not so much his memories of me, personally, (although that could come into it), but more of what I said and did that struck him and made sense to him, if anything. I've shared plenty of my insights with you over the years; now I'd like some of yours. Remember, I'm the editor of all this. Can I be objective in this? Or should I simply polish and add to things that others write?

I got a printer this morning, but am lacking the appropriate cable; I'll ask Sheila to drop by and get one for me while stay home to await the arrival of Duc, around noon; she'll be surprised when she gets back to find him here, with his pumpkin-soup. And talking about this, her neighbour, Edna, stopped by this afternoon, bringing pumpkin soup. I won't eat it, however, because I couldn't be sure of its contents, whereas with Duc, he understands my requirements.

Talking about Edna, two weeks ago, her husband sent a bag of books for my perusal, so I chose one about Bombay, of over 900 pages, but two-thirds of the way through it, I spilled coffee on it ~ not too bad, but that's not how it came to me, so either I buy a replacement (it wasn't brand-new, but in good condition), or offer him some compensation. It was A$35 new.

The printer-copier-scanner was A$69 (with a $10 discount), and the cable-connection will be $9. Well, I might as well get what I need or is useful to me, especially as I have plenty of the wherewithal; I'm not going to take either the money or what it buys with me, and I don't know how much longer I'll linger.

Did I tell you that I got another call from my sister in England yesterday; it's good to be friends with her again. Unless something wonderful happens and Ollie the Octopus decides to withdraw to the South Pacific or the Arctic depths, it's highly unlikely that we'll see each other again, as I can't see her making the horribly-long flight from England to Oz.

What do you think ~ at this stage, should I give Ollie orders to move on, or pray that I'll go soon?

Guess that's all for now, so I'll give myself a shot of insulin and wait a while to eat something. Hope you are all well there.
BWFWE? (Rev.) Abhinyana.

March 12th, 2008. 7.44am
Dear Friends,

I had my worst night yet, with so much pain; we've just called Cittamani to ask someone to come out and see me sometime today; they'll be here after lunch. Lunch? If it's anything like yesterday, there will be no lunch, but I've managed a bowl of cereal and the rest of the cake I started on yesterday, so this is a good sign. I might even manage a packet of the instant noodles that Huy brought for me yesterday.

I've got heaps of email to reply to, but won't be able to write much. Must reply in some detail to you and explain clearer what I want from the contributors to "Parting Shots". Perhaps I expect too much of others.

I had a nice time with Duc yesterday, although it was very tiring for me, especially since I had no time to nap in the morning, and had a hard time over the soup he'd brought. I started to spit up, and it went on for many hours ~ even until the night; I didn't eat anything ~ even after they'd left ~ except a mouthful of cake. I gave what I thought was a good Dharma-talk, and he appreciated it; it was good because he'd made the effort ~ and expense (he's working only part-time now), to come, and so he was open and receptive, and made me think of inviting people from Brisbane to come on Sunday morning for a talk; this would be good for me, too.

An hour after Duc got here at noon, Huy called to say he wanted to visit me at 3 pm ~ half-an-hour before Sheila & Frank got back ~ so they were all able to sit and talk together for a while until Duc left at 5 pm, having told me something of the situation in the temple where I'd stayed last year.

Now, let me try to get things straight about "PARTING SHOTS" ~ 'ground-rules', as you put it ~ instead of expecting you to understand what I want using your intuition.

First of all, you should keep it in mind that the book will reach people we don't know, many of whom will have a limited knowledge of Dharma and whose English might not be too good. Many people have said that the way I write is simple and clear, but has different layers, so that people of different levels can understand. If we write poems, for example, many people might be unable to understand what is clear to us, but they must guess at our meanings. We should try to avoid this, and make thing so clear that people have no need to guess.

You are right: I should not appoint myself as editor, like a dictator. Now, here's a new idea, and I'd like your opinion of it: How about if you all ~ the people I've requested to contribute something ~ comment on what I've written in "PS" (and I'm sending you another copy of it), and other books ~ anything that strikes you, in fact. I'll leave it to you to choose what to comment on it, but to say which article. This might be easier. For example, if something from "Roads" has hit you, say something like, "This is in response to the passage beginning with and ending with on pages ...... from "Do You Believe" in "Because I Care". In fact, this gives you plenty of source- material. Or, "I would lke to comment on something the author has written in ....." This, I think, would be much easier, but let me say it again:

Select a passage from somewhere in anything I've written ~ in "Just A Thought" or anywhere else, and comment on it, saying what has struck you about it, or what it means to you.

As far as possible, give dates and places ~ for example, from the above, 1980, Manila ~ and anything else that gives an idea of the setting.

I've just received the following from someone I met in one of the refugee camps in 1986, and I like her suggestion:- like your letters written to us. It's straight to the heart, to the mind. I think it would be nice and helpful for us to read them. I find I can either learn, reflect or reassure from them. I hope you allow us to collect the letters you choose. Who knows you will have a book with the title like "Letters from Thay Abhinyana", or "Letters from the Teacher", with different topics. I believe it helps me, it can help others too. What do you think, Thay?

And here is how I would correct it to make it more readable:

'...like the letters he wrote to us, which were straight to the heart and mind. I think it would be nice and helpful for others to read them. Perhaps it could be entitled "Letters from Thay Abhinyana" or "Letters from a Teacher", on various topics'.

And surely, from the letters I've written to you all over the years, you could all come up with something. If not, well, opt out of this exercise right now.

Please let me know if what I've said is clear or not, or ask any questions you like about it.

I'll send a copy of the above to all our colleagues.

Well, I guess that's all for now. You'll excuse me I'm sure, for not responding to what you've written. I was/am racing against time. You'll be pleased to know that the liquid-morphine I took earlier did what it's supposed to do, so now, you'll be pleased to hear that the pain that was so bad before is greatly diminished.

Hope you are all well there.

March 16th, 2008. 10.39am
Dear Friends,

I never knew you thought about me as you did, and now I want to shed tears! Yesterday, I got my sister to read what you wrote, and not surprisingly, being the emotional person she is, she had to pause several times before she could proceed when a lump came to her throat. I'd asked her to write something for my souvenir-book, but any hope of her doing so has gone after reading your epistle. Did you write it only recently, if so, your memory is really remarkable?

I won't change much of what you wrote, and will send you a copy when I've done ~ maybe later today ~ but I'd still like you to write something else, in response to one of my articles in "Just A Thought". Please try. I'd appreciate it very much. I've no idea what I'll get from others, but I don't expect anything so wonderfully long.

I don't remember it now, but I had another bad night, and called out to my sister, which is something I wouldn't do unless absolutely necessary. Fortunately, she didn't hear me, so she didn't respond. I say 'fortunately', because I was alright again by the time she called me before going off to her market, and I told her to go. That was three hours ago. Had she heard my call, she wouldn't have gone, even though their car was already loaded up yesterday. Perhaps I've been praying too hard to go; I'd better ease off a bit if I'm going to get another book done ~ another book after "Parting Shots", as I'm thinking of this now ~ a book of responses to emails/letters I've written to people over the years. Someone suggested this. There really is so much I could and should do, having received so much kindness and support.

And yes! Why not a picture of me on the buffalo for the front-cover of "Parting Shots"?

Because I've got the place to myself until Frank & Sheila get back from the market, I've shifted my writing-station to the sewing-room, before a large window, outside which is a miniature 'jungle', and my eyes are caught now and then by the movement of birds fluttering through the trees and shrubs. I glance up, and watch the ascendants of the dinosaurs (according to current ideas) flutter by, in their vari-colored plumage; there are so many varieties. I've always been an amateur ornithologist.

And with that, I'll leave you to enjoy your Sunday.

March 18th, 2008. 3.43pm
Dear Friends,
I had a hard day today. We set out to walk, but hadn't gone 50 meters before rain brought us scurrying back. Frank & Sheila went to the doctor's, where Frank had given him a report about me that I couldn't believe! This is not the Frank I know. He's really kind and considerate of me now, and told the doctor that he knows I'm in pain, but that I try not to show it, and that I don't rest as much as I should, working as I do on my computer. On the downside, though ~ and probably quite accurately, he told him I'm rather grumpy; I didn't mind the last
bit because it's true; it's the other parts I was pleasantly surprised about.

The doctor was so moved by what Frank told him about me that he said whenever I need to see him, I should just go in without making an appointment, and he would see me as soon as possible. I'm so lucky with doctors, am I not?

When they came back, they had a quick drink before taking me to the next, bigger, town ~ Maroochydor ~ at about 10 o'clock, and on the way, Frank pulled over to show me a bridge over a river that empties into the sea nearby, and told me that, subject to my approval, this was the place ~ the middle of the bridge ~ where he intends to scatter my ashes. I was quite amazed that he should take this so seriously. Here he was, thinking about scattering my ashes and he's reading my book, "JAT"!

At Maroochydor, we went to various shops, looking for things for me, including the book on which I'd spilled coffee, and although we found a copy, it was no cheaper than the copy I'd borrowed (A$35), so we thought of just offering them $10 in compensation, but upon returning and checking the book, Sheila had difficulty in finding the stain ~ so did I ~ but I still think we should offer, and let the guy decide himself.

While we were having coffee in a shopping-mall, Huy called to ask if Thanh had called me, and I told him no. He ~ like me ~ thought this wasn't very good, because even though her husband is away, she has a mind of her own and knows my number. Apparently, she told Huy that two cars-full of people would come, but she better make sure someone calls before Sunday and not come without calling, otherwise I might decide not to let them in.

I was quite exhausted even before we headed for home, where I immediately went horizontal. The thing is, it's clear that I'm having more days like this than not.

Sheila intends to cook cauliflower-au-gratin and chips for me, but I really don't feel like eating anything, so I've put her off, saying, "Maybe tomorrow."

And with that, I will stop here, hoping you are all well.
BWFWE? (Rev.) Abhinyana.


March 21st, 2008. 3.38am
Everyone knows that diamonds are more precious than stones. If someone gave you the choice between a diamond and 10,000 stones, which would you choose? Be careful with your answer.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The way I'm feeling now, I'll probably go soon. I spoke with my brother-in-law yesterday about him being ready to find me unresponsive in bed one morning; we cannot take things for granted. I was hoping to finish "Parting Shots", but now,........

Hope you are well there.
BWFWE? (Rev.) Abhinyana.

March 22nd, 2008 1:31 PM
Subject: Getting stoned?
Dear Friends,

Did I tell you that I'd kept a lot of notes written by primary-school-kids in response to talks I gave in schools in Adelaide in 1975, the year before I came to M'cca? We ~ that is, Yen Ha, Sue (she and her then-husband, Don, arranged and took me to many of these talks), and myself ~ are thinking of making a whole new book based on these talks; Sue would play a big part in this book.

The hospice nurse ~ Karen ~ increased the strength ~ doubled it, in fact ~ of the Fentanyl patches I'm on, and I can feel it. Just now, I asked Frank and Sheila ~ Frank's the best one to ask now ~ if they see any sign of me hallucinating or saying things that don't make sense, and to get a clear answer from them, I said something that they'd really need to focus on, and they answered that no, what I say makes sense and is not just gobbledegook (I must talk tomorrow, don't forget).

And upon getting up this morning, I had the idea of requesting them to forego their market-trip in order to attend my talk. I wrote it out and printed it nicely, so:

Dear Frank and Sheilakin,
You've been asking me what you might do for me, and I've been saying 'Nothing, thanks', but now I've thought of 'Something' ~ I'd like to ask you to sit in on on my talk tomorrow, as it might be my 'Swan-Song', and could be interesting ~ for you, as well as as for me.

I was taking a risk, especially with Sheila, as they are so attached to their market and doing things by routine. I put it on the kitchen bench-top, and later ~ 6 o'clock ~ when Sheila called to ask how I was, I asked if she'd seen my note, she asked where it was; I told her, and she went to get it, coming back to say that they'd have to cancel their stall with the market-manager, otherwise, they might lose it (it was very hard to get a stall to being with). Later still, when I joined them at the brekky-table, they told me they would join us. It will be a gamble, what we are doing, and the results remain to be seen. Let's see if anything else happens as the day unfolds.

No doubt her mind will be churning away, from one gear to another, as it has been doing; I've already seen the signs and heard the words; I don't need to understand every word (oh, we speak the same language, but you must understand the nuances and the inflections, too, not just the inky-words; much misunderstanding and trouble comes from not taking enough time to think carefully.

Karen ~ my favourite of the hospice nurses ~ just called me, and we had a long talk, with more instructions. Then, before she goes down town to get me a fresh prescription, Sheila told me that she'd tried to get through to the market-manager, but could only get voice-mail, and doesn't understand this (neither do I, as you can imagine), so you can see her mind-cogs turning. Poor Sheila!

Must stop now; you've no idea how long it's taken me to write this! I am not too well this morning; can this be the day?

BWFWE? Abhinyana.

March 22nd, 2008.
Dear Friends,

Sorry to tell you that, because I'm in such pain now ~ very hard to get up from the bed first thing to take my medication ~ that I won't be able to give anyone more than a very short reply, and must turn everything regarding my books over to my group of friends. I think you'll all know what to do by now. There're enough funds in Malacca. I'll leave you to do what needs to be done with your friend in San Jose. Please liaise with the others. I don't know how long I can go on with this. Very often, I want to die, but I also want to carry on with this work.

I love you all so much and hope you are all well.
Best Wishes from Abhinyana.

March 22nd, 2008. 2:48 AM
It's 2:48am, and I've just taken some medication, hoping I'll pull through. People will come around 9:30am.

(Note: The next e-mail published here was written after a Dharma-Talk given at his sister’s house where Rev. Abhinyana was staying.)

March 23rd, 2008. 5:27 PM
Subject: Nice day.
Dear Friends,

I don't feel much like writing, as I'm in a lot of pain in spite of the medication, and the pain has spread from my back into my thighs, where it's never been before, but my talk went well ~ even if I say so myself; pity it was recorded only by Walkman, and I don't know how that recorded. We started more-or-less on time and by then, most of the people who were coming had come. I came out from my room at 9:30am, and started to talk soon after. Hoa and his wife, Helen, were a little late, but I'm glad they came anyway, and Huy's mum and brother, Thanh, were a little later still. Phong, of course, didn't come until almost noon, as he came by plane from Melbourne, bringing things I'd asked him to.

I began by saying that one of our main problems, and one that goes on throughout our lives, is that we spend most of our time looking, but not seeing, and led them, slowly, through this to finally arrive at realization of how this is so, without giving them a quick answer. Most of them understood enough English to catch my meanings, but for the sake of those who didn't, there was someone quietly translating, while I spoke slowly. It went on for just over two hours, with time for some questions, too. I was pleased to see Frank and Sheila paying attention, and over the next few days, I'm sure to get some feedback from it ~ more than I've had already; they assured me that they had no regrets of staying back from their market to listen, and were impressed by how attentive everyone was; the only other talk of mine they'd attended was 22 years ago, in the Phap Hoa temple in Adelaide.

After the talk, people dispersed to eat what Sheila had prepared ~ Devonshire scones with jam-and-cream, and tea or coffee ~ not a full meal. Some left at 2:00pm, and the last ~ Phong ~ at 4:00, when I was free to take a much-needed nap, satisfied, but still in pain (sorry to have to tell you this). The weather had been quite fine for us, and Frank had enjoyed giving them a guided-tour and ear-jacking them.

After my nap, I got a call from someone in Melbourne ~ a lady by the name of To Chau who I'd known there years before before; she'd come to hear of me from Tinh Giac and called to offer me her sympathy. I got her email-address and will write to her after this.
This must e-mail needs to be short, and I'm sure you understand this. We'll be back to where we were within a few days. For now, I hope you are all well in every way. Looking forward to your news.

BWFWE? Abhinyana.

March 24th, 2008. 9:43 AM
Subject: Too Much Pain Now.
Dear Friends,

I like your website, it's a great idea; thanks a lot for being so involved in this.

Lien's deadline is too short; I'll tell her about this. She wants to do it as fast as possible because of me, but no matter how fast, it won't be enough.

I don't know how long I can go on with this. Very often, I want to die, but I also want to carry on with this work.

I see Lien wrote to you. May I ask you to do the
necessary with her, as it's hard for me to focus now? Plus you know better what she's talking about than me.

I had a visit from one of the nurses earlier; she gave me a shot of morphine so I wouldn't vomit it out as I'd done before with the oral stuff, and inserted a connection into my abdomen, so that more could be injected later. Well, after a nap, I was still in pain and blew my whistle to call Sheila to help me get up (the first time I'd done this); she came and helped me with the second injection, which is gradually taking effect). I then asked her to sit and talk with me a while, and told her how, when I was in Taiping in 1973, I came to know of a young boy suffering from cancer in hospital, and started to visit him every day, but though my heart was there, I was inexperienced in this and might have done more harm than good, because as the disease progressed and his stomach began to swell as if he was pregnant, I could feel that he didn't look forward to my visits, as he knew he was on his way out. He died in that awful place; his name was Ah Keong, and he was only 14.

I love you all so much and hope you are well.
Best Wishes from Abhinyana

March 27th, 2008. 2:02 AM
Dear Friends,

Delighted to get your story, and I'll include it in "Parting Shorts" if you polish it some more under your mum's
guidance, as she's good at that. It needs some filling out, if you know what I mean: Like you, it needs to put on a bit of weight, while my octopus needs to lose some!

So, you felt me with you while you were in India. That's because I was, all the way. When we meet someone, that person is always with us, always part of our lives. I'm glad you moved someone to join with you in cleaning up; that's great.

You got something wrong about my story, however. It wasn't a dog-bite that brought me back for an operation, but something else. The dog-bite was another story. There are so many stories in our lives. But what happened brought me into your lives, and it went on from there. I got hit by a careless motorcyclist, you see, and I sustained facial-injury. It was something good, however, because it brought me into your lives. We can't explain everything, because there are so many things involved in every effect, like the knots in a fishing-net: pick up one of the knots in the net, and all the knots come with it. Isn't it so?

I hope you are all well there.
Best Wishes from Thay Abhinyana.

April 3rd, 2008. 2:58 AM
Dear Friends,

How are you there? Nothing else from you this morning, so you'll have to have something from me. And me? ~ I'm still waiting to see what happens. It's already 4 months since I was given the prognosis, and I'm still holding on. DV will come on Saturday, and "Parting Shots" is on the way; perhaps it can go on without me, but I'll still work on it. I don't intend to go for chemo, so it can take me now, whenever. I've not found out about hemlock, ala Socrates, although I sometimes feel bad and ready to go. I sometimes retch, but nothing much comes; it feels like I'm tearing my guts out; I hate it, and Sheila & Frank retch sympathetically with me.

The doctor ~ his name is Andrew Wall; we address them by first names ~ will visit me today ~ at his suggestion, not at my request; it's quite amazing, as this seldom happens here ~ and I'll pretend I'm better than I am (actually, at the moment, as I sit here and write, I'm not too bad), because I don't want to hear him say that I'd be better off in hospital.

I hope you are all well there.

April 4th, 2008. 3:38 AM
Dear Friends,

I made a short start on checking the messages of "PS", what a procrastinator I am!

The weekend-deadline I'd set myself is almost here, and I'm still up and down, but the doctor was so positive when he visited today that he gave me multiple scripts of morphine so that I needn’t be calling every week or so! Oh gee, must I live that long! He told me to take it whenever I need it. Well, I took it thrice today already, and before I sleep, I'll take more, so I'll be relatively pain-free until morning ~ relatively, I said, because there's always some discomfort, and I feel more comfortable in certain chairs than in others. I'm still sorting
through what little's left of my stuff; there won't be much to do after I've gone.

Sheila she got back from her tests diagnosed with osteoporosis, dammit! Not really spoken with her about this
yet! Don't know what this will mean, but she's relieved to know it's not cancer, as she thought it might be because of the long-term pain in her back, and because it's so close-up to her now in my 57.6 kg case.

Well, I'm rambling, so had better stop here, hoping you are all well.

April 9th, 2008. 10:25 PM
Dear Friends,

Whatever the rose comes out like, it will be for my coffin, as that's all I want in the way of flowers; I don't know if I told you this ~ a paper-flower.

Now, I got 17 in the way of mail, and I'd not finished replying to what was there. I'm really lethargic now, not wanting to do anything yesterday, and I've got an acupuncturist coming this afternoon.

I'll try to stop mixing up between "JAT" and "PS", but I'm now having to adjust with decreased medication now, it seems I don't need so much now, and it's throwing me off. Strange, isn't it? At 12 midnight, I've just taken my first morphine, and if it's anything like the past few days, I won't need more until another 12 hours or so. Last night, I asked Sheila & Frank to check on me through the night in case I go into a diabetic- coma, as I took my insulin, but was unable to eat anything. This didn't happen, fortunately, but just in case it did, I told
Frank to insert a glucose tablet into my mouth when he got up to the toilet. Am I in a mess or what?

Hope you are all well there.

April 11th, 2008. 11:57 PM
Dear Friends,

I didn't get around to you yesterday as I was pretty tired, but otherwise alright. However, as I've said before, we must take each day as my last. You know this, don't you, so, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye! I can't say everything I'd like to say, and you'll have to guess.

One of the nurses came first, followed by Doctor Andrew, with his updated ideas of medication ~ inserting a pump loaded with various medication which will avoid doing things by bits. He called another nurse who came later still to put in the pump, and to lay a bed-liner to prevent bed-soars; it's so comfortable now, but they might bring a hospital bed on Monday anyway.

What am I going to do with all my emails, but simply copy-and paste something like this? I can't possible respond to everyone. Thanks for the roses; I'll choose the one with the curliques.

Best Wishes from Abhinyana.
This was the last e-mail that Reverend Abhinyana sent out.
He passed away on the 14th of April 2008, at 4.30am in
Nambour, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.


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