Death in a Teacup: A Zen Koan

Sandwich Generation
By N Mark Castro


My father’s health has deteriorated and he’s currently in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the Mountain Province of the Philippines, where he and his wife were supposed to be on a holiday leading to the celebration of their wedding anniversary.

Prior to that, he’s been missing out on his medications and has refused for the longest time to undergo dialysis treatment.

To say that he’s stubborn is an understatement.

And now there he is, laying in a hospital bed somewhere, in a city away from his friends and relatives, undergoing dialysis treatment 3x a week, with various medications. He continues to refused to take his medicine and has lost his appetite for food.

Thankfully, he’s receiving IV for nutrition but it is highly doubtful if it’s enough.

While all his 5 boys are scrambling to get home to comfort him and see him again, I’m left to ponder on the possibility that this could be it.

He’s always been a towering figure of strength to us, and I’m quite reluctant to see him in such a frail condition, weakened by his current illness. And as I look at my two children — both boys — I’m left wondering the memories I’m building with them.

There are no comforting words at a time like this, only companionship, I suppose. I can only imagine the pain, anger, and loneliness that his wife must feel right now, whom he has always provided for, protected, fought with, debated with, argued with, and loved so much.

In a cyclical life such as this, I am only reminded of a Zen Koan that has neither the right nor the wrong answer.

THE MASTER Ikkyu showed his wisdom even as a child. Once he broke the precious heirloom teacup of his teacher, and was greatly upset. While he was wondering what to do, he heard his teacher coming. Quickly he hid the pieces of the cup under his robe.

“Master,” he said, “why do things die?”

“It is perfectly natural for things to die and for the matter gathered in them to separate and disintegrate,” said the teacher.

“When its time has come every person and every thing must go. 

“Master,” said little Ikkyu, showing the pieces, “it was time for your cup to go.


About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on February 24, 2013, in Fatherhood, General and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I am sorry. Companion is the best thing of condolences. Hope he gets better soon.

  2. I thought I replied on this, sorry if it didn’t get through and thanks so much Irene.

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