Sôgmô on Mourning Practices due to Norway Attacks

Ave, Sandum Citizens!

Note: This article contains religious-based discussion in the wake of the Oslo and Utøya massacres but explains the Sandum practice after events such as these. Please show your kind respect to the victims, those affected and to the Sandum culture. Mercio.

This is a rather informal address this evening concerning recent events and our cultural practices of mourning and grief. I am afraid I have not been write a lot recently; my hand has been bothering me. I have returned from Washington D.C. upon seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra 2011 ritual, where I purchased a thangka of Kalachakra along with the XIVth Dalai Lama, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Guru Rinpoche — Padmasambhava. I must admit, it was a wonderful ritual and event; seeing ten thousand people rise for His Holiness the Dalai Lama was a beautiful and moving sight. His Holiness, too, walked on stage with the Catholic Archbishop of Washington D.C.; it is a wonderful sight to see two such individuals walk on the same stage together, walking with arms embracing, and preach compassion, understanding and co-existence. It is something that I believe this government should focus our state on and it has. With the creation of the Collegio Sacerdae, which has recently grown to include members and citizens interested in Buddhism, Shintoism, Wicca and Orthodox Christianity, I am sure we can come to terms with His Holiness’ and His Eminence’s calls for compassion and understanding. I have expressed my hopes for certain members of the Collegio Sacerdae to become chairs and chair special departments of the Collegio Sacerdae under the offices of the Maiora Flamenae. I am sure that, by understanding, we can grow a better state and begin a new cooperation and understanding between peoples and cultures.

Which leads us, rather ungracefully, to our next and primary subject: the recent Norwegian attacks. I have not published anything political or followed political arguments in these past three days since the attack, out of respect for the now-86 teenagers my age, from 14 to 19 years, who were shot and massacred by a vicious, intolerant man. This government, through our preconceived and prerecognised respect for our comrades, has kept away from these political arguments and focused on these Norwegian attacks.

It is according our cultural beliefs that three days we mourn and respect the dead. The three days, together, symbolise the utilisation of the Dharma to grieve and mourn those who have died and then to rejoice in their future lives and, even, their future enlightenment; furthermore, they represent the three jewels of the Dharma: Teachings (Dharma), Teachers (Buddha and Lamas), and Community (Sangha). And, so, three days ago was the day of the attack on a hundred people; 86 minors killed on Utøya and 7 by-standers in Oslo. It is this day that we remember the Dharma, the teachings which teach the ending of suffering and teach ultimate compassion for all people. That is why, in massacres such as these where our state nor ourselves are personally attacked or harmed, we mourn as well. This day is to remember the attack, to solemnly and humbly pray and grant compassion. This day is done to collect information and show understanding, be it of the event or of the victims themselves.

The next day is the day that we remember the Buddha and the teachers and the teachings which they continue to grant to us, in hopes that we may end our own suffering. This day, we dedicate ourselves to the teachers and to the victims as we begin to create objects of mourning and grief. In relation to this recent attack, the government has created a mourning channel of Channum Unum for the attacks: Channum Unum Norskemann. These objects of mourning and grief should have to do with those who have passed away and should be personal to them and, furthermore, these objects should show reverence to those directly affected. Whilst it is difficult to personalise an entire channel in a single day for, as it currently stands, 93 victims, we have created a channel which displays what united the targets, victims and those affected: their Norwegian livelihood of peace, their social democratic hopes for their country, and the diversity of the victims. It is this day that we, quite honestly, stew in our grief and mourning; this day is a tremendously sad day.

The final day is the day that we remember the Sangha, or the community. Originally, this word denotes Buddhist monks and laypeople; however, in this context, it is meant to denote the victims, those affected and those close to us. This day we begin just as we left off the last night. We turn our minds to the victims and continue to “stew” in grief and mourning that our understanding has caused for us, as we recognise the terrible actions and loss of life. This final day is meant to cast off our worries, though we begin it stuck in them. We spend the daylight hours with such a Sangha who show the same grief and mourning and we practice compassion, especially to those who we feel have caused us suffering or trespassed us in the past or recently. Finally, as the sun becomes twilight, we enjoy a meal around those we care for and hoping for a better future. Following the meal, we symbolically take a very warm bath that should initially almost burn and it should cause discomfort and slight pain to be in. However, as we begin to relax in such a bath, we begin to wash our face, arms and our entire body with this warm water, using nothing but the water. This symbolises the washing off of grief and mourning, the metaphorical washing of tears. This bath may be accompanied by candles, incense and music, or any such variation. It should be a time of relaxation, foremost. However, when you step out, one should come to the realisation that those people are to be reborn and will eventually become free from the suffering of life; or, of course, which ever you believe. If you believe that they will achieve peace by heaven or, even, that they will just pass away, come to realisation that they are at that place and that they will not have to continue to suffer the sufferings of life. At this point, your sadness should be completely free from you and you should begin to feel happier and more prepared to do work. For instance, this evening, after my bath, I became determined to clean my studio apartment, the Palaso d’Etato (Palace of State) as it were, and to finally hang up the thangka I purchased at Kalachakra. What ever you believe it is you should do — cleaning, reading, finishing a project, doing work, et cetera — do it. This stage represents the casting off of the desire to have permanence and we come to realisation that everything — life, structures and everything — is impermanent. Finally, a small ritual of religious, spiritual or faithful devotion is acceptable; such as, prayers by the bedside, prayers for an hour or a lighting and opening of an altar. Tonight, I have offered incense and illuminated my candles. It is this day that we mourn a final day and cast off our grief at the end of the day; this day is a relatively happy time.

The next day is a day that should be of happiness. Continue to work and do work until it becomes natural again and the peaceful routine of life is re-established. If you continue to feel sadness, as it is natural to do so, relax in the evenings. Say a calm and relaxing prayer, practice meditation and contemplate for your own self and sake. The importance of this is to be relaxed and come to your own self-realisation. This does not even have to always be practiced at the time of death for others, it can be at a difficult and trying time for yourself. This time symbolises the return to bodhidharma and attaining nirvana; or, that is, the return to peace and natural existence.

I hope that this will grow understanding into the Sandum culture and lifestyle and, even, may be used to help those in these trying times following the Norwegian attacks. Sandus shows its solidarity as a state and country in grief and remorse for these attacks; each and every citizen has shared their public sadness and remorse. From myself and the Phanem, we have both expressed our compassion at this time. From now on, following these attacks, it is back to work for this state and for this government. We shall never forget the attacks of 22/07/2011 on Oslo and Utøya.

Eternal memory to the victims.
Aeterna memorio ad le victalae. 


— Sôgmô Sörgel.