If you were to go back over the years in The Buddha Diaries, you would find many mentions of my sister--mostly having to do with our visits with her at her home in Cirencester. Until a score of years ago, relations between us were often difficult, distant, prickly. Since childhood, she told me in our latter years together, she had seen me as the blue-eyed boy, the one who could do no wrong; she had perceived herself, on the other hand, as the "difficult" one, the dark one, the one who was hard to get along with, who was never quite at peace with herself or the world around her.
We both had two children, she two girls and I two boys, and we both went through separations and divorces. I remarried, she did not, and she told me, frankly, of a kind of envy, a discomfort that she felt with the apparent ease and comfort of the life I chose; felt that everything fell into place for me, whilst for her, life was always problematic, "difficult." We started to break through those barriers between us some twenty years ago, when we began to discover that we were on essentially the same path--the path toward the self-knowledge that's necessary to heal old wounds and open up to life. I could describe them as different, but somehow parallel paths. She discovered the Ridhwan School and the Diamond Approach. I found my way into deep inner work through The ManKind Project--which led me to the Buddhist practice I have now embraced for many years.
The two paths brought us close, despite the geographical distance the separated us. I know that Flora was ahead of me on her path--she started along it sooner than I did, and immersed herself more fully in its teachings. I was never able, as she was toward the end of her life, to rest securely in the belief that there is a new consciousness rising in the world, that no matter the troubles that surround us, there is progress toward a world of peace and harmony, a world of greater, shared enlightenment. The skeptic that I nurse inside is still a powerful force. She would send me "good news" newspapers and links to sites that celebrate the progress of the human spirit, but I was never quite convinced enough to read them with more than a cursory glance.
I hope that she proves right, and I wrong in my fundamental intellectual pessimism. In the past few days since she left this planet, I have been visited in meditation by the vision of an angelic little newborn baby boy. I like to think that this is not just my fanciful imagination at work, but my sister's rebirth, in the body of one who will make a significant contribution to the world's enlightenment--in a word, a Buddha; that, in this new life, she will prove a guiding spirit as we move toward the kind of world that she envisioned in her life, where human consciousness and mutual respect and love will finally triumph over the greed, exploitation, and hatred that threaten the only home we human beings are given to share with each other and our fellow species.
I honor her memory, and the work she did to heal herself. I witnessed the results of that work in the calmness with which she approached the end of her life. The manner of her dying gives me hope that the rest of us might yet find, in our own lives, the peace that she arrived at.